Avoid negligent hiring claims by taking action
During these tough economic and funding times, many nature centers may consider cutting back on staff and volunteer screening practices in an effort to save money. Think again! Did you know that if an unfit person causes harm after being hired without the proper due diligence, you could open yourself up to a negligent hiring lawsuit?
Here are some precautionary measures to take:
- Require all applicants to completely fill out employment or volunteer applications, including sections for employment history and criminal convictions. Do not accept a resume only.
- Obtain written authorization to verify representations made on applications and resumes and to investigate the applicant’s background. When gaps or frequent changes in employment are revealed, investigate. Check references.
- Conduct personal interviews. Pay attention to any indications that an applicant might have a violent past, such as former employer statements that the person could not get along with others or had a temper.
- Hire only after a background check has been completed. Make sure you know what is included with your background check.
- Document performance after hiring. Take steps to ensure all staff receive regular feedback with respect to performance, and promptly and thoroughly investigate if they make threats, have outbursts, or exhibit other troubling or violent conduct.
- Train all staff, supervisors, and management on their duties and responsibilities, especially when they involve extensive association with the public, such as counselors, guides, coaches, instructors, or group leaders. Take special care when there is direct contact with minors or children.
- Document all training methods, times, and content.
- Put all work rules and policies into writing and have employees sign and confirm that they received, read, and understand the policies.
- Take prompt and appropriate disciplinary action—up to and including termination—of any failure to comply with work rules and policies.