There is a reason why our federally registered slogan, If you could have known, you should have known® was created. Companies and organizations can be held accountable for the actions of individuals associated with these groups, even if the principals and directors of these organizations did not know that these people represented threats and risks to their group. Whether the connected individuals are employees, volunteers, tenants, members, franchisees, or some other category, companies and organizations can be liable for actions of individuals linked to them that damage or injure others.

For example in the employee arena, negligent hiring and retention liability case law is well documented. Employers have been held liable for the willful misconduct of their employees. This has occurred even when the employee was no longer working for the company at the time of the crime. Negligent hiring and retention lawsuits have cost companies millions of dollars in damages, forcing many companies into bankruptcy.

However, companies and organizations that do not properly screen other types of individuals, can similarly be found to be negligent. Whether it is a non-profit with a predatory volunteer, an apartment with a tenant that is a dangerous convicted felon, a country club member with a history of repeated DUI’s whose unsafe driving later injures a fellow country club member, or a franchisee owner with serious criminal convictions, companies and organizations are well advised to properly vet individuals that are allowed to become associated with them.

In today’s world of viral social media, it’s not even necessary for a lawsuit to be filed. Your company’s or organization’s brand can be severely or terminally damaged by social media reports of the lackadaisical business practices that allowed individuals associated with your group to hurt (physically, financially, etc.) your customers, vendors, or even other employees.

A company’s best defense against liability is to perform a thorough background check by a reliable background screening company. Be sure that the background screening company is also a consumer reporting agency, and one that understands the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA, the federal law that governs background checks). By performing thorough background checks, companies and organizations can defend against being negligent, whether in a court of law, in front of a television or newspaper reporter, or in social media.

Posted by: Rudy Troisi. President, Reliable Background Screening.