2022Negligent Hiring

Written By Digital Content Editor Thomas Ahearn

On July 26, 2022, a jury in Dallas County awarded $7 billion in punitive damages against a cable company for “systemic safety failures” that led to the “negligent hiring” of a field technician who murdered an 83-year-old customer in her home in 2019, according to a news report from WFAA Channel 8 ABC in Dallas, Texas.

WFAA reported that an earlier jury verdict in June 2022 found the cable company liable for the stabbing death of Betty Thomas by former employee Roy Holden Jr. and ordered the company to pay 90 percent of $375 million in compensatory damages to the victim’s family with Holden responsible to the remaining 10 percent. 

The complaint from the victim’s family claimed the cable company “got rid of an employee screening program” that the previous owner used before the business was bought in 2016, and “allegedly hired Holden without verifying his employment history, which would have shown he lied about his work history,” WFAA reported.

In addition, a “review of Holden’s previous employers would have revealed firings for forgery, falsifying documents and harassment of fellow employees, according to trial testimony.” After his arrest by police in December 2019, Holden pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison in April 2021.

In another news report from WFAA, a North Texas law professor said one reason for the $7 billion in punitive damages was that the cable company had a “heightened duty” to be careful in its hiring process since their employees enter the homes of customers and the company has to ensure the safety of homeowners.

“The law imposes duties upon employers,” the law professor explained to WFAA. “The duty of care in a case like this is greater than the normal duty of care because employees are entering the home. The question then becomes — was that duty of care breached?” The two reports from WFAA are available here and here.

“Employers have a duty of due diligence in hiring, and if their hiring practices cause harm to co-workers or members of the public, an employer can be sued for negligent hiring,” Attorney Lester Rosen, the founder of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), explained in his book titled “The Safe Hiring Manual.”

“Implementing a Safe Hiring Program helps employers practice due diligence in their hiring. Having an SHP is a powerful defense in the event of a negligent hiring lawsuit, and understanding how due diligence is associated
with liability for negligent hiring is critical for any employer,” said Rosen, a noted background check expert.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a service offering of ClearStar, a Human Resources technology company specializing in background, drug, clinical, and occupational health screening – offers background check services to help employers avoid negligent hiring lawsuits. To learn more, contact ESR.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a service offering of ClearStar – does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

© 2022 Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – A Service Offering of ClearStar – Making copies of or using any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.

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