Employers can be held liable for their employees’ actions under the theory of respondeat superior. This theory generally holds that an employer is vicariously liable for the acts of its employees. In addition, employers can also be held liable for negligent hiring, retention, or entrustment involving their employees.
A claim based on negligent hiring is based on the fact that an employer negligently hired or retained an employee. A lawsuit resulting from negligent hiring can arise if an employer hires an employee whom the employer knew or should have known was not fit for the position. That is, the employee was placed in a job that would likely have posed a danger to others. An employer must take reasonable efforts to investigate a potential employee. This depends on the facts and circumstances of each case, but an example might be an employer that hires an individual who has been convicted several times of violent crimes for an armed security guard position.
A negligent hiring claim may be successful even if the act committed by the employee is outside the scope of the employment, which is one aspect that distinguishes it from a general negligence claim. This is because the focus is on whether or not the hiring or retention of the employee was negligent. However, there still must be a causal connection between the employer’s negligence and the injuries that occurred.