Working men and women spend a majority of their time at work, so the environment created and maintained by an employer can have significant impact not just on the lives of employees, but on the lives of members of the general public. This is because, as members of the public, we interact with employees of other businesses on a daily basis. If an employer knowingly hires or retains an employee who is noticeably dangerous to others, the employer could be held liable.
Negligent hiring and when it applies
Negligent hiring applies in Virginia when an employer hires an individual who poses a foreseeable danger to others. It is an employer’s duty to protect others from individuals who may cause injuries, and the employer can be held liable for injuries occurring as a result of the employee’s personal tendencies to cause harm to others.
For example, a nursing home manager has a duty to hire employees who presumably will not endanger or injure nursing home residents. A standard hiring process for nursing home employees includes a rigorous background check to investigate any possible previous charges of crimes such as elder abuse. If any individual applying for a position at a nursing home has been convicted of elder abuse, there would be an assumption that this individual might put nursing home residents in danger of future elder abuse. If the employer hires someone guilty of previous elder abuse this could be grounds for a negligent hiring case if an injury occurs.
There are, however, limitations. Failure to conduct a background check alone is not enough evidence to support a negligent hiring case; there must also be evidence showing that a background check would have uncovered information that would have caused the employer to have knowledge of legitimate potential danger to others caused by hiring an employee.
As an illustration, the Virginia Supreme Court held that knowing a person’s history for substance abuse and tendencies to pursue single females would not be grounds for a negligent hiring case in the event of a sexual assault. Instead, there must be more specific evidence of an individual’s propensity to injure others before a hire can be considered negligent.
Similar to negligent hiring, negligent retention applies when an employer gains knowledge of an employee’s inclination to injure others but fails to terminate the employee. The same standards apply in negligent retention: there must be evidence that suggests an injury was foreseeable before an employer can be held liable for injuries.
An example of negligent retention could be if a landlord hires an employee who he later discovers could cause harm to his tenants or guests. If a landlord hires an individual to maintain the property, the landlord has a duty to protect individuals from foreseeable harm caused by this employee. If a landlord discovers that his employee has previously been convicted of sexual assault on a college campus, it would be a negligent act to allow this employee to continue to work in a property leased by female college students.
how to seek justice for your injury
The Charlottesville Personal Injury Lawyers at MartinWren, P.C. are dedicated and capable of getting you the damages you are owed following an injury. We are ready to serve clients and their families in the Charlottesville, Virginia area, and provide free consultations for your personal injury case. Let our trusted legal team help you seek justice under the law. Please call us at (434) 817-3100 to schedule a free consultation.