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Negligent Hiring in Illinois | What is Negligent Hiring?

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article, we explain negligent hiring in Illinois.

Hiring a new employee is an important part of a company’s success, including employee safety. In their role, recruiters are responsible for conducting a variety of pre-employment tests, including background checks, contacting personal and professional references, drug tests, credit reports, and qualification validations (college degrees, work experience, certifications, etc.). However necessary, all pre-employment tests need to remain reasonable and nondiscriminatory as a standard for every candidate. Failing to meet these requirements can lead to negligent hiring claims.

As at least 53% of job candidates include false information on their résumés and applications, negligent hiring can be extremely damaging in professions requiring one-on-one care or attention, including healthcare aids, real estate agents, and financial advisors.

Negligent hiring is a legal claim made against an employer by an individual (i.e. another employee or customer) who is injured by an employee with a history reflecting similar injurious incidents, theft, untrustworthiness, or violent behavior. This claim argues that an employer knew, or should have known, the accused employee’s history of similar incidents prior to hiring him or her. Essentially, if the hiring recruiter placed a candidate without researching his or her background thoroughly enough, the employer can be responsible for the accused employee’s actions.

The state of Illinois recognizes a cause of action against an employer who negligently hires or retains employment with an employee that the hiring recruiter knew, or should have known, is unfit for the job so as to creates a danger of harm to other employees or customers. In order to be successful in an action for negligent hiring or retention of an employee, the plaintiff must plead and prove the following:

  1. The employer knew or should have known that the employee had a particular unfitness for the position so as to create a danger of harm to third persons;
  2. Such particular unfitness was known, or should have been known, at the time of the unfit employee’s hiring or retention; and
  3. This particular unfitness proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury.

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