A recent Western Reporting Inc. Employment Screening Benchmark Report released today indicated that Negligent Hiring Claims in the U.S. topped over the $50 million mark with the average lawsuit settlement at nearly $1.5 million.

Examples of suits in which an employer could be sued  for negligent hiring is alarming. A trucker with a history of driving under the influence drives drunk and kills a pedestrian. A soccer coach with a domestic violence history abuses a player. An employee with a history of fraud steals a coworker’s identity and racks up thousands of dollars of fraudulent charges. The list could go on infinitum.

“All organizations, whether it is a church, school, major corporation, or athletics needs to be aware of the liability in positioning people in positions of accountability,” said Bryan Mower Western Reporting CEO. “The lawsuit numbers pale in comparison to the billions of dollars lost in fraud and non-tangible emotional distress of families who could have been protected. The standard should be: If you could have know it, you should have known it.”

Mower stated that claims of negligent hiring are not limited to cases arising out of bad hiring tactics, but can also extend to third parties such as staffing companies. In a recently decided case, $26.5 million was awarded to the plaintiff after a home healthcare worker robbed and murdered both the health care client and his relative in his home. The staffing company had not performed a FCRA regulated background check and simply ran an quick, cheap search on the internet.  A credible search would have revealed the worker’s six prior felony convictions.

The best way to help reduce an unpleasant surprise about an employee before your make an offer of employment:

  • Have each applicant complete an application for employment.
  • Get explanations for gaps in employment.
  • Use a reputable background screening vendor (FCRA Compliant) to provide a thorough review of the applicant’s background, criminal, and driving record where applicable to job requirements.
  • Check references.
  • Require drug testing, as users of illegal drugs often pose a greater risk of violence.
  • Keep documentation. It is possible that a criminal conviction does not show up on a background check due to timing of the incident and the report. Keep the documentation to show due diligence.
  •  Conduct background checks on all employees or volunteers once per year.

Mower stated that one in five people in the United States has a criminal record.

About Western Reporting, Inc. Western Reporting is a leading provider of on-demand employment, tenant and drug screening background checks including electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automat, manage and control screening and related programs. Western Reporting provides pre-integrated background screening service through over 100 applicant tracking  and Human Resource management systems.