PO Box 8208 Bonny Lake, WA 98391 | 1800 9th Ave. Suite 1630 Seattle, WA 98101 ( Appointment Only )
Representing Individuals
and Families in the Areas of
Personal Injury, estate planning
Family law & Employment Discrimination

Personal Injury Newsletter

Employers' Liability for Failing to Screen Potential Employees

“Negligent hiring” is a legal doctrine that holds employers liable for unlawful acts committed by their employees. The issue arises when an employer hires a person that she knew or should have known could pose an undue risk of harm to others within the course and scope of employment.

Under this doctrine, the employer has the responsibility for checking the background and references of any job applicant before placing that individual in a situation of contact with the public. Examples of businesses particularly at risk may include:

  • Schools
  • Housing
  • Youth organizations
  • Customer-service

Establishing a Claim Under Negligent Hiring

A person that alleges injuries caused by an employee and expects to hold the employer liable under the doctrine of negligent hiring must show that:

  1. The employer owed a duty to that person because there was an association or connection between that person and the services or business the employer provides;
  2. The nature and frequency of the employee’s contact with the public may pose a potential risk of harm; and
  3. Evidence of the employee’s potential risk to others existed prior to and at the time of the hiring and that the employer failed to investigate.

Negligent Hiring Frequently Cited in Litigation

In December, 2005, the parents of an eight year-old boy filed a lawsuit against FedEx Corp., alleging the negligent hiring of Paul Sykes, a convicted sex offender. The lawsuit alleged that Sykes approached the family at the Connecticut FedEx Kinko’s store where he was employed, and offered to repair their home computer. While visiting their home to repair the computer, Sykes allegedly assaulted their son. The lawsuit asserted that FedEx knew, or should have known, of Sykes’ dangerous propensities as a sexual predator. In April of 2007 Sykes was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the molestation. In 2008, a federal judge dismissed the civil lawsuit against FedEx, ruling the company could not be held responsible for the conduct of its employee outside the workplace. The case is currently on appeal.

  • Drivers & Their Duty to Passengers
    If you are injured in a traffic collision while riding as a passenger in a vehicle, you may want to know about the driver’s liability toward you. The driver does have a duty to act responsibly toward you, but the extent of that... Read more.
  • Hospital-Acquired Infections Can Kill
    A nosocomial infection, or hospital-acquired infection, is an infection that was contracted in a hospital. Such infections can be the result of many different factors including poorly sterilized equipment, defective equipment design... Read more.
  • Warning Signs of Elder Abuse and Mandatory Reporting Statutes
    Elder abuse is a growing problem. As medical conditions become more serious and debilitating, the elderly are often unable to care for themselves. Accordingly, the elderly may become more dependent on those who care for them, and... Read more.
  • Award of Back Wages Taxed the Year Wages Are Actually Paid
    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that awards of back wages to employees are subject to federal taxation according to the year in which the wages are actually paid, not the year in which the wages should have been paid or were actually... Read more.
Personal Injury News Links
Share This Page: