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$5M Negligent Retention Suit Against Sheriff for Deputy's Actions

Credential Sentry's Communication Team6/11/2022
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A sheriff's deputy in Virginia was driving 75 miles over the speed limit at the time of a collision that killed a woman. The woman's son launched a $5M lawsuit against the deputy and included the Sheriff as a named defendant under the theory of negligent hiring and retention.

Kobie Satterfield, a reporter for WUSA9, a local news outlet, reported that the Sheriff was cited at fault in the complaint because the deputy allegedly "had [a] long history of prior unsafe driving violations, including speeding violations and reckless driving." The suit alleges that the Sheriff's office had also been previously made aware of the deputy's issues with speeding. By continuing to retain this deputy in the employ of the Sheriff, the lawsuit posited that the Sheriff himself had become partially liable for the tragedy.

The Sheriff's office has refused to comment on the pending litigation, but it did say that the deputy was placed on mandatory suspension until the investigation is complete.

The victim's family is still struggling to come to terms with their loss. No amount of money will ever bring back their mother, but they hope that by bringing this suit, they can prevent another family from having to go through the same experience. The family's lawyer said in a statement to WUSA9 that “no family should have to suffer the loss of a loved one due to someone else's negligence, and we will continue to fight for justice on behalf of our clients.”

Regardless of the outcome of the trial, this case serves as a cautionary tale for all employers.

Hiring an employee with faulty credentials and continuing to retain them even after their necessary credentials lapse or fall into dispute can land an employer at the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Employers have a duty to ensure that they are taking reasonable precautions to protect third parties from inadequately certified employees.

Credentials Check for Employers

As an employer, you understand how important it is to hire personnel who are dependable, trustworthy, professional, and loyal, and who can provide the highest quality services to your valued customers. Poor recruiting decisions can have severe repercussions for your business, including permanent damage to your firm's reputation, as well as the costs of time, money, poor performance, client loss, and litigation for negligent hiring and retention.

In order to protect your company, you must always ensure that you or your background checkers conduct exhaustive evaluations of all new hires when implementing recruitment strategies and hiring new employees.

If an employee's credentials are questioned, you should always conduct an investigation to determine if the individual poses a threat to your organization.

Our team has compiled a list of the most important guidelines for conducting a thorough professional background check on prospective employees in order to keep you abreast of the best practices for hiring in regulated industries:

Perform a license search

Employers can use a license verification to confirm the validity and current status of a prospective employee's license. An automated license verification process is available through Credential Sentry, which allows businesses to be alerted about license status changes or license suspensions on a daily basis. The automated screening updates can be emailed directly or displayed in the dashboard on a predetermined schedule, such as daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

Conduct a criminal background check

Verifying the criminal history of prospective employees enables you to assess their suitability for a position with your organization. It is also essential for roles that involve security or cooperation with the public, such as healthcare workers, teachers, and police officers.

Validate a candidate's employment history

This may seem like an obvious thing, but it's important to verify that candidates worked at all of the companies they said they did because there could be some discrepancies between what they say on paper and reality. If there are any gaps in their work experience, ensure that they can account for all of them.

Check the social security number

The social security number is one of the most important pieces of information on any application. It not only allows employers to ensure that the candidates are who they say they are, but it also gives them access to a wealth of other information about them, such as all names, dates of birth, and address histories associated with their social security numbers.

This can be extremely useful in locating previously unknown locations or aliases that may reveal criminal records that would not have been discovered otherwise. Furthermore, the background check will reveal whether the social security number is valid and whether it has been used by anyone else.

Look into the sex offender registry

This check is extremely important for positions of trust, such as teaching or working with children. The sex offender registry is a public database that lists the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders. By searching the registry, employers can ensure that they are not hiring someone who has been convicted of a sex crime.

Examine a prospective employee's drug test results

Many employers require drug tests as a condition of employment. The most common type of drug test is a urine test, which can detect the presence of illicit substances such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and opioids.

Blood tests are also occasionally used, but they are much less common than other types of diagnostic procedures because they are more invasive and costly. Some employers may also require employees to submit to hair follicle testing, which can detect drug use going back several months.

Protect your Business with Professional Background Checks

Professional background screenings are an essential part of the hiring process, but it's also important to remember that the checks should be done on a regular basis to make sure that all employees are following the law and that the organization is safe from any possible risks. An employer should always be aware of an employee's background and take steps to ensure that this information is up-to-date.

Even with all of this in mind, employers are not the only ones with a duty. Employees should also make sure that their credentials are up-to-date and in good standing to avoid any lawsuits that could come from practicing with a suspended license. It is also in their best interest to make sure that their employer has all of the information they need about their qualifications.

If employees or applicants are unsure about their license status, then they should not hesitate to reach out to their professional licensing board to find out if the license is suspended. Taking these simple steps can help both employees and employers to avoid any legal trouble in the future that could be caused by a license suspension.

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