Q.Should I perform a background check on potential new hires?
A.Yes, but be careful. In addition to becoming somewhat necessary to prevent and defend a claim of “negligent hiring”, an employee background check can reveal a wealth of information regarding a job applicant's qualifications. A claim of “negligent hiring” may be brought by an injured employee, if you hire a new employee that you should have known was predisposed to commit a violent act of misconduct. If the judge or jury finds that the injury occurred because the employer failed to properly interview or investigate the job applicants' background, the court may hold liable for “negligent hiring.”
Before performing a background check, the employer should have the job applicant sign a consent form that verifies that they have been informed that a reference/background check will be conducted, and gives the former employer the right to release employment-related information. This consent can be a seperate form or included on the job application (e.g., I authorize an investigation into all the information contained in this job application and give my consent to my former employers verifying sucb information).
When conducting the background check, be sure to limit your questions to factual job related information and make sure that the information gathered is kept confidential. The results of any background check should be kept in a separate file marked confidential and should not be placed in the employee’s personnel file.
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