Negligent hiring and retention laws are founded on the concept that an employer is liable for the harm to a third party (usually a member of the public) that results from an employee’s negligent act. The employer has a duty to exercise reasonable care in the selection and retention of employees.
If your employees are brought in contact with members of the public in the course of your business, you could be subject to lawsuits by plaintiffs claiming careless hiring and retention practices were a cause of their injuries.
A key question in determining whether an employer has been negligent in hiring is defining “reasonable care.”
The definition varies slightly in each jurisdiction, but in most cases involving negligence, the courts look at the situation from the standpoint of a “prudent” employer.
“Reasonable care” often hinges on the circumstances and common sense. For example, hiring a catering truck driver without requiring proof of a valid driver’s license would certainly be lack of “reasonable care.” Employee drug testing and background checks such as contacting the employee’s references and checking criminal records are some of the ways negligent hiring and retention claims can be avoided.