Employers have a legal responsibility to workers, clients, and the community to ensure that their employees do not harm others in the performance of their job. Three legal concepts stem from a failure to do this:
Negligent retention is when an employer does not discharge an employee after the employer learns or "should have known" that the employee was a danger to others, and that employee harms someone. Evidence of such dangerousness can include a history of violence, sexual harassment, or other criminal behaviors, a pattern of reckless disregard for safety, or incompetence to meet job demands.
Negligent supervision is when an employer fails to reasonably monitor or control the actions of an employee, allowing them to cause harm to others.
Negligent training is when an employer's training of the employee fails to prevent the employee from engaging in acts that cause injury.
Suits for negligent retention often plead negligent supervision or training as an alternate charge, as the employer who knows of an employee's improper conduct should either terminate that employee or take steps to correct their conduct through training and monitoring.
Following are some steps an employer can take to reduce the risk of a lawsuit on the above charges:
* Avoid hiring unsuitable employees in the first place. The best way to accomplish this is by doing thorough background checks.
* Implement comprehensive performance management policies and procedures, and make sure managers follow them. This includes a progressive discipline policy that stipulates when to terminate.
* Implement comprehensive policies and procedures for the investigation of complaints about an employee. This includes complaints of sexual harassment or other threatening or inappropriate behaviors, or negligence regarding safety practices.
* Train designated managers on how to carry out investigations of complaints and act on the findings.
* Train all managers and employees about reporting procedures, and give guarantees against any form of retaliation for making a report.
* Monitor the actions of any employee you have concerns about, even if it means paying overtime or moving staff around.