3/18/2011 Proposed Florida Bill Could Create Exposure for Employers

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We are closely following a proposed bill in the state of Florida which would remove certain protections the state’s employers currently receive against negligent hiring suits in the event that they conduct an employment background check.

Florida House Bill 449 “Jim King Keep Florida Working Act” would remove a provision in Florida law, Fla. Stat. § 768.096 (Employer presumption against negligent hiring) which was enacted as part of the 1999 Florida Tort Reform Act. The statute provides that in a civil action for death or injury caused by an employee’s intentional tort, the employer is presumed not to be negligent in hiring the employee if he engaged in one or more pre-employment background investigation steps that did not “reveal any information that reasonably demonstrated the unsuitability of the prospective employee for the particular work to be performed or for the employment in general.”

The state’s website introduces this bill as follows:

“Criminal Justice; Designates act “Jim King Keep Florida Working Act”; requires state agencies & regulatory boards to identify & evaluate restrictions on licensing & employment for ex-offenders; prohibits state agencies from denying certain applications based on person’s lack of civil rights; provides exception; requires employer to review results of criminal background investigation & not place employee with criminal record where conduct similar to past criminal conduct would be facilitated, etc.”

This bill should be of significant concern to employers in the state of Florida.  It basically means that even if you performed a comprehensive background check which did not indicate any adverse information, you can still be held accountable for negligent hiring.  Does that make any sense?  I suppose state lawmakers would prefer that employers look into a crystal ball to predict the future.

Read full version of Florida HB 449

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