How to Avoid Negligent Hiring

How to Avoid Negligent Hiring

November 12, 2021 Off By Paul Petersen

Negligent hiring is a legal claim brought against an employer by a plaintiff. The plaintiff in negligent hiring cases is typically a victim of an injury or crime committed by an employee of the employer. The plaintiff can also be an employee, or they may be a customer, client, or other private individual. In negligent hiring cases, the plaintiff must prove they were harmed and that the harm was the direct result of the employer’s failure to do sufficient due diligence during the hiring process to uncover potentially predictive behavior in the employee’s history. 

Hiring a new employee is a process that requires careful consideration of a number of important factors. Certainly, qualifications for the position and a style and personality that will fit with the organization are critical, but thorough vetting is also critical to protect employers from negligent hiring claims. These claims are expensive to litigate, and the events leading to the lawsuits are damaging to individuals and the company. Understanding the following can help employers avoid negligent hiring suits. 


Negligent hiring can take myriad forms. To help facilitate our discussion, we’ll consider two basic examples.

Example #1

On a particularly busy day, a cashier working at a retail store receives a complaint about their slow service from an impatient customer. In response, the cashier physically attacks the customer, knocking them to the floor and breaking their arm. During the police investigation, it was discovered the cashier had a number of prior assault convictions on their criminal record that the retailer was unaware of because they did not conduct a pre-employment background screening. 

Example #2

In order to onboard a new driver quickly, a large trucking company skips the legally required motor vehicle check and the drug test during the hiring process. While on the job, the new driver causes a serious accident involving several other vehicles. The driver is found to be at fault and to have drugs in his system at the time of the crash. His driving record also shows past DUI convictions. 

The Law

Negligent hiring laws are made at the state level, but most have the following criteria in common:

  • Duty of Care. Employers have a duty of care to protect others – employees, customers, clients, etc.—from harm. One way employers can satisfy their duty of care is to perform conscientious background checks on new hires. In both our examples, the employers breached their duty of care by neglecting background checks and drug screens that would have provided the information needed to predict the risks and avoid the injuries. 
  • Foreseeability. To qualify as negligence, the injuries need to be reasonably foreseeable. In both examples, the hiring qualifies as negligent because the background checks held info about previous convictions and patterns that could reasonably predict future problems. Had the driver possessed a clean driving record prior to being hired or the cashier’s record been free from crime, their employers could not have reasonably predicted the injurious events, and there would be no negligence. 

Staying Clear of Negligence

The best tool for employers to use to avoid negligent hiring claims is a pre-employment background check conducted by professional, skilled screening agents. Candidates provide information about themselves during the application process; the screener verifies that information and uncovers any additional info the candidate may have excluded. By making an effort to learn the whole story, employers get a more accurate picture of potential hires, which leads to better hiring decisions and protects against negligence. Domestic and worldwide employment background checks save millions of dollars and protect the organization’s reputation. Avoid negligence. Don’t skip the check.