Negligent Hiring

Negligent hiring or negligent retention are relatively unknown legal doctrines. A typical negligent hiring case arises out of a situation where an employee of a person or company hurts a customer or client. Typically, these kinds of cases fall under the doctrine of respondeat superior, but respondeat superior is only used for negligence cases. So how can an injured victim recover from a company when the employee intentionally hurts the victim?

Negligent hiring or negligent retention cases are used when a person or company's employee intentionally hurts someone else while on the job. Generally speaking, the main issue in a negligent hiring or retention case is whether the employer should have known about their employee's tendency to hurt other people when they hired them; or whether the employer should have found out about the employee's violent tendencies at some time during employment. If an injured victim can show that the employer should have known about their employee's tendencies, but failed to, then that victim may have case for negligent hiring.

Florida's Statute on Negligent Hiring and Retention

Florida has very specific laws dealing with negligent hiring cases. Under Florida law, employers will be given a presumption by the court that they were not negligent in hiring their employee if the employer conducts a sufficient background check. A sufficient background check requires the employer performed the following:

  • Did a background check with the Department of Law Enforcement;
  • Made reasonable efforts to contact former employers or contacts of the employee about their suitability for the job;
  • Required that the employee filled out a job application with questions about the employee's past criminal record and involvement in intentional tort actions;
  • Obtained the employee's driving record if the employee will be driving as part of their job; and
  • Interviewed the employee.

Just because an employer does not do this prior to hiring their employee does not mean they were necessarily negligent; but if they fail to take these steps, the employer will not get the benefit of Florida's negligent hiring statute.

Negligent Hiring Case

A Florida case from the early 90s shows a classic negligent hiring scenario. In this case a furniture company hired a delivery person who had a long record of forced entries, robberies, assaults, and other violent crimes. That employee delivered furniture to a young woman, but he then later came back to allegedly get a receipt for the delivery when he brutally stabbed and injured her. As a result the woman sued the furniture company under a theory of negligent hiring, and was awarded a large verdict from the jury after a trial on that issue. The appeals court upheld the verdict because the company was negligent when they hired a career criminal with a violent record to enter the homes of their customers.

The Pittman Firm is ready and able to take on all personal injury cases, including those involving negligent hiring or retention. Wes Pittman dedicates his legal practice to fighting for the rights of those who have been the victims of injury.

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