By Thomas Ahearn, ESR Staff Writer

A recent article in the Denver Business Journal reveals details about a little-known bill that may have a big impact on the business community in Colorado with regards to employer liability from negligent hiring.

House Bill 10-1023 ‘Employer Liability Negligent Hiring’, recently signed into law by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, prohibits the criminal history of an employee from being part of a lawsuit against the employee’s business unless that criminal history has direct applicability to the legal action.

According to the article, the bill was sponsored by Rep. Mark Waller (R-Colorado Springs) after he learned that businesses often do not hire applicants with criminal backgrounds no matter how long the ex-convicts have been clean or how unrelated their criminal histories are to the jobs for which they applied.

Since employers fear being sued for negligent hiring if workers they hire with criminal backgrounds do anything wrong, Waller wanted to help protect businesses from negligent hiring lawsuits while also giving ex-convicts a chance to find work. The resulting bill prohibits information concerning the criminal history of an employee from being introduced in civil actions if:

  • The employee’s record is sealed;
  • The employee received a pardon;
  • The criminal history isn’t related to the facts of the case, or;
  • The employee’s record is from an arrest or charge that did not result in a criminal conviction.

However, businesses still would be held liable for negligent hiring if they hired employees with criminal backgrounds unsuitable for their jobs, the example given the article being a person convicted of breaking and entering hired to install alarms in homes who then subsequently robs one or more of those homes. As usual, employers must use common sense in these matters.

With new laws like the one recently passed in Colorado, employers will want as much information as possible upon which to base their hiring decisions. Criminal background checks are a safe and effective way to reveal the criminal pasts of applicants and to help employers make future choices about which workers they want to hire.

For more information on criminal background checks, other methods of a safe hiring program, and the latest legal updates regarding negligent hiring, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at