Background Checks

There is one other area in the hiring process that can leave employers vulnerable to being sued – and that’s not checking anything at all!  The most basic risk, of course, is making a poor hiring decision – failing to hire the right person for the job to be done.  But failing to use reasonable care in the hiring process can lead to an allegation of negligent hiring – particularly when information about a candidate is readily available by simply doing a background check.  In other words, the employer could have found out that he was putting his employees at risk if he had bothered to check.  This is particularly true when the result of not checking is injury to another employee, customer, or some other innocent third party.

Some HR people argue that their skill and experience at interviewing are sufficient to make a determination of a candidate’s suitability for hiring.  But not even the most seasoned interviewer can avoid subconscious impressions coloring his view of a candidate.  Some people just naturally hit it off; others don’t.  That brief collegial relationship, or lack of it, doesn’t say anything about the candidate’s ability to do the job, either!

The other risks associated with not checking anything include the following:

  • Hiring people who really aren’t what they claim to be.
  • Damaging the company’s ability to function effectively.
  • Inflicting potential damage to the company’s reputation.
  • The loss of valued customers.
  • Possibly contributing to the development or delivery of a defective, or even dangerous, product.

Which makes more sense?  Allowing the hiring manager to rely on nothing more than his judgment or actually doing a background or reference check to make sure not only that the right person is hired, but also that reasonable care was used in the process?