Many employers have a different set of screening standards when they screen temporary workers with the company – or none at all. However, the same risks and liabilities apply to these temporary workers as full or part time employees.
For example, businesses can be sued for negligent hiring if a temporary worker commits a crime that affects another employee in the workplace. Liabilities related to their job duties and interactions with clients also apply. All the rules of due diligence in hiring apply to temporary staff, and this includes thorough background checks to screen temporary workers. (These rules should also apply to vendors, contract workers, and independent consultants.)
U.S. Case Law Full of Rulings Against Employers Regarding Actions of Temporary Workers
Additionally, a business can be held liable under “co-employment,” a legal tenet that says despite being on another company’s payroll, any company that supervises or receives services from that worker can be held liable for their misconduct under their watch.
If a temporary worker is found to be unqualified, unfit for employment or dangerous to staff or clients, the employer can be held liable. If someone is allowed on the premises in an employment capacity, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure they will be effective and responsible in their role.
Case law from U.S. courts is abundant with examples showing that businesses will be held liable for the actions of their temporary workers. Duty of care should be exercised in all facets of hiring.
Identity Theft is One Possible Result if you do Not Screen Temporary Workers
An incident highlighted by the CNBC series HR Confidential illustrated how hiring a temporary worker without performing proper employment screening led to a particularly egregious case of identity theft at a New York-based company.
This foreign banking company hired a temporary worker via an outside placement agency for a position in the company file room who did not properly screen temporary workers. Soon after, other workers at the company began to report that their identities had been stolen. When three employees reported identity theft in a three-week period, the banking company quickly realized that it had an internal issue.
The company called in fraud specialists who gathered information about everyone who had ever had access to the company files. A week later, they returned with the postmaster general and armed officers. Within five minutes, the unscreened temporary worker was brought out in handcuffs.
This worker had been hired to clean and refine the employee files; however, it was revealed this worker was stealing individual social security numbers and identities. The man was ultimately arrested for applying for credit cards with a false identity.
Professionally Screening Employees Takes Guesswork Out Background Checks
This story serves as a cautionary tale for all businesses to screen temporary workers when hiring. To minimize liability and ensure the safety of staff and customers, these employees should undergo the same level of screening and background checks as any other employee.
Employment screening ideally includes a criminal background check and inquiries into performance with past employers. A credit check is crucial when screening persons who will have access to sensitive financial information.
Disclaimer Statement: All information presented is for information purposes only and is not intended to provide professional or legal advice regarding actions to take in any situation.
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