Negligent Hiring

Marilyn could not believe her luck. The apartment was just two walking blocks from where she worked. The only negative: old, fading curtains. Not wanting to let the apartment go, and realizing the huge savings she’d reap on gasoline and vehicle maintenance alone, she told the landlord she’d pay for new curtains if he lowered the rent twenty-five dollars a month. He agreed.

The day after signing the lease was Saturday and Marilyn wasted no time buying new drapes. The following Saturday she opened the door to a man wearing a shirt with ABC Draperies embroidered on the pocket. He introduced himself as Bobby. As Marilyn showed him the rooms where the curtains would go Bobby chatted her up. At first she thought he was just being polite, projecting a professional image. But the more he talked, the more uncomfortable she became. When he said he would write off the cost of labor if she would go to dinner and a movie with him that evening Marilyn said she wasn't interested. At this point Bobby became verbally aggressive saying vulgar things to her. When Marilyn threatened to call the drapery company Bobby exploded, calling her a “tease” then physically attacked her.

Luckily the landlord heard her screams and intervened before Bobby seriously injured her. Bobby was arrested and eventually went to jail for assault and battery. Marilyn hired a lawyer who sued ABC Draperies for negligent hiring when it was learned that ABC Draperies did not do a pre-employment background screening on Bobby. Had they done a due diligence, ABC Draperies would have learned that Bobby served two prison terms for attacking and seriously injuring women. ABC Flooring learned the hard way about the value of pre-employment screening.

The incident described above involved an employee who most likely would never have been hired if more information about him was gathered during the hiring process. Problem individuals tend to make trouble wherever they go. It is important to know as much as is possible about an applicant before the person is hired. While pre-employment background screening is one of the basic tools available to employers, there are a number of other tools readily available to employers.

1. Review the applicant's resume, references, work history, and employment application. 2. Conduct pre-employment interviews.

3. Establish a drug testing policy and do not vary from its intent.

Application and Interview Process The employment application is a source for a great deal of information about a potential employee. A careful review of the application may raise "red flags":

• An application that is incomplete or has portions that have been deliberately or inadvertently omitted (doesn’t want “certain” information known?)

• A carelessly filled out or messy application (disorganized, incompetent?)

• An incomplete work history, with time gaps between changes in employment (covering negative data?)

• A work history that doesn't make sense, with too many employment changes and/or a downward progression in employment (unstable, unreliable?) The interview process is one of the richest sources of information about the applicant as well as a place in which "red flags" may appear. Things to evaluate during the interview include the following.

• The applicant's approach, demeanor, and emotional state

• Level of cooperation, openness, and truthfulness

• Physical appearance and grooming

• Body language and eye contact

• Response to questions, including whether the question asked is the question that is answered, and whether too little or too much information is provided

• The interviewer's comfort level during interactions with the applicant

• The applicant's interest in the job

There is no law, federal or state, that prohibits an employer from asking an applicant to clarify or verify information he or she has provided on an employment application or personal resume. Nationwide employers have lost almost 80% of negligent hiring cases with an average payout of nearly $1,000,000.00 per verdict.

Don’t become part of that 80%. Ask questions. Get answers. Hire the right person.

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