At one time, negligence was a claim rarely heard outside of the medical profession, and while malpractice suits against individual doctors did happen, their employers were rarely dragged into the battle.
Fast forward a few decades, and we live in an increasingly litigious society, where people and organizations can and will sue anyone for just about anything, and there are far more claims of negligence that employers need to be worried about. In fact, hiring or promoting the wrong people very much can, and likely will, land you and your company in the middle of an expensive legal battle.
Here’s what you need to know about negligent hiring risks, and how to go about preventing this from happening to your company.
What Is Negligent Hiring?
Negligent hiring is a claim made by an injured party against an employer who fails to property vet, verify information or check references and hires or promotes a person who is dangerous or untrustworthy. If the employee’s actions on the job cause harm to others, the employer can be held responsible. For example, if you hire someone with a record for a previous sexual offence and they assault a co-worker, you could be on the hook—especially if your company could reasonably have found out this information before hiring them through proper screening practices. In fact, since companies generally have a lot more money than individuals, if anyone does bring a lawsuit against that individual for issues related to their incompetence or failure in a job-related situation, it’s almost guaranteed that their lawyer will recommend coming after your organization too.
What Could Go Wrong?
There are risks in any business, in every industry, every day. Everyone knows that. But we are all morally and ethically (and usually legally) bound to do as much as possible to mitigate those risks. Negligent hiring risks putting an incompetent or unqualified person in a position where they can do a lot of damage.
One example would be in an investment firm, where a poorly chosen and incompetent hire makes a mistake that could have been avoided by a skilled individual, and loses a lot of money.
Another example might be when an airline fails to check a pilot’s criminal history, does not find out about past drug charges, and something goes wrong because they are intoxicated on the job.
In each of these cases, the employer could reasonably have discovered the red flags or problems in the person’s background, but they neglected to look, which resulted in losses or damages for their customers.
What You Can Do
As a company owner, manager, or HR professional, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from negligent hiring risks is to ensure that your hiring processes confirm, verify, and clarify all legally allowable checks on a potential hire or promotion.
Those checks might include criminal record checks, education, and credential checks, verifying practicing licenses, drug or alcohol testing in some cases, global screening, and more. It takes time and costs a little more to make sure you’re hiring the right person, but it can save you a small fortune long term.