Negligent hiring is the failure of an employer to use reasonable care in the selection of an employee that results in injury to an innocent third party. (Remember we talked about “reasonable care” in the previous blog – making the point that what will be considered reasonable care will depend on the risk of harm to those innocent third parties – the greater the risk of harm, the higher the standard of reasonable care that must be exercised.) The way to minimize the risk of being accused of negligent hiring is to use reasonable care under the circumstances in the hiring process. Naturally, that means it’s always better to collect more information about a candidate for employment, than less.
One area that is often overlooked by employers responsible for the hiring process is failing to check to see if the license to carry out the duties of a particular occupation is valid. As noted in a previous blog, checks of medical licenses or licenses to practice law are the most frequently overlooked checks. There is a presumption that anyone claiming to be a physician or a lawyer would never falsify a license. Well, I can think of examples where individuals claimed a medical license or license to practice law that they didn’t have!
Just as a careful employer would check to see if a candidate for a teaching position really has a teaching license, it is important to check the license of a person seeking employment as a doctor or lawyer. Why? Because the risk of harm to innocent third parties is as great for doctors and lawyers as it is for teachers. The point is, if the job requires someone with a license to do it, it just makes good sense to check first rather than be sorry later.