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Doing Background Checks On Employees Can Keep You Out Of Trouble


If one of your employees commits a criminal act, or hurts someone while completely out of the scope, context, and duties of his or her employment, you may feel like you are absolved from liability. After all, you would never condone, allow, suggest or even retain, anybody that you knew could purposefully and perhaps criminally injure someone else, right?

Negligent Hiring Claims

Even though that may well be the case, you can still be sued for negligent hiring.

The things that your employees do, no matter whether they are directed by you or they are not, can lead to your business getting sued. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t just have an obligation to conduct background checks for employees that work in “dangerous” fields, or who work with vulnerable populations like kids or the elderly.

Doing Background Checks

The good news for business in Florida is that it presumes that the business owner is not liable for criminal activities of the employee, so long as the employer has conducted a background check on the employee before employment. The background check must be one that is done through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

It is standard (and good practice) to have a form for prospective employees to fill out that asks basic questions, like whether the employee has been arrested, convicted of a crime, or been sued for any intentional act. For employees who will be driving as part of their job, a complete driving record check may be necessary, as you do not want to entrust someone to drive a car, who has a history of traffic infractions or collisions (or worse, such as a history of DUIs).

You should make an effort to contact prior employees, and any references that the prospective employee provides to you.

The prospective employee should sign a consent form, allowing you (or a company that you use) to access the employee’s driving record, criminal records, or court records. Note that this is different from a credit check which will require a separate disclosure, and which, by itself, will not give you the protections as a full background check will give to you.

Why You May be Sued

Without these background checks, you run the risk of being sued for what your employee did to the victim. The theory is that you, as the business, either hired the employee knowing he had a predisposition to criminal activity that he wasn’t suited for the job, or that, by doing nothing as far as a background check, you took a blind eye to the safety of others.

If one of your employees does commit an intentional act, you, as their employer, can expect to be sued. This is because most people who commit criminal acts don’t have the money to pay the victim. That means the victims will look to other, deeper pockets—namely, you as the employer.

Good legal decisions now can prevent problems later on. Call the West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today to help you.



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