THE MAGAZINE

Taking Screening to the Next Level

By Barry Nixon

Negligent Retention

Negligent retention is a legal doctrine that has evolved out of numerous court cases. The underlying premise is that if an employer is aware that an employee has been violent or has violent tendencies—or should have been aware of the problem and did not take reasonable actions to address the situation—the employer can potentially be held liable for the actions of  that employee. This concept has been applied to many employment situations.

Infinity screening programs can help employers avoid negligent retention lawsuits. If, for example, a company finds that one of its drivers was convicted of driving while intoxicated, the company can decide whether to allow the driver to continue deliveries, change that employee’s assignments, or take other appropriate actions. Without this information, the company would have difficulty defending itself in the case of a lawsuit if the driver had an accident while making a delivery and injured someone. The company might only discover during the trial that the driver had a suspended license and had been convicted of a DUI.

In such a situation, several questions are likely to arise in court. They may include whether it is reasonable to expect that the company should have been aware of the employee’s driving record, whether there were reasonable steps that the employer could have taken to have current information on the employee’s driving record, and, if the company had known of the incident, what action could have been taken? Companies could avoid this situation altogether by conducting infinity screening.

Infinity screening helps a company continually re-assess the risk an employee presents to the company over that employee’s work lifecycle. Infinity screening can help improve the organization’s risk- management posture. Businesses should embrace this opportunity to better manage their risk. n


Barry Nixon is executive director for the National Institute for Prevention of Workplace Violence, Inc. He is a member of ASIS International and serves on the ASIS Council on Crime and Loss Prevention.

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