Bearak Reports - Asset Search and Information Verification Services
Bearak Reports Asset Search and Information Verification Services

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Worker Murders Man and His Grandmother: Employer Liable for Negligent Hiring

In 1991, Trusted Health Resources, Inc. hired Jesse Rogers as a home health care aide in Boston.  Trusted Health never checked Rogers' background.  If it had, it would have found that Rogers had six larceny-related convictions in Massachusetts, and that he had not, as he stated on his application, worked for a state agency and attended nursing classes.

Several months after being hired, Rogers murdered 32-year old quadriplegic John Ward, and Ward's 77 year-old grandmother, Alba Pellegrini.  Rogers had been hired to care for Ward.  He had reportedly been stealing from Ward and committed the murder to cover up the thefts.

Ward's parents sued Trusted Health and others, alleging that they were negligent in allowing a convicted felon care for their son.  The court agreed and in the case of Ward v. Trusted Health, No. 94-4297 (Suffolk Super. Ct., Mass.), awarded the Wards $26.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages in February, 1999.

Homicides are the second-leading cause of job-related deaths, and nearly a million employees are the victims of nonfatal violence each year, often at the hands of co-workers.  If businesses don't probe an employees propensty for violence or other criminal behavior, they are taking big risks.

What can employers do to screen job applicants?  Among recommended steps are:

  • Obtain the applicant's written permission to check references and to release a credit report to the employer
  • Obtain a written waiver of inquiry-related claims against the employer.
  • Keep a written record of inquiries.
  • Require the applicant to certify that information provided by him or her is accurate and true, and to acknowledge, in writing, that if the information is not accurate and true, that the employee will be fired.
  • Have the applicant provide certified copies of school and/or college records and driving record, if relevant.

Jack MAYER, Esq. & Chris RISER, Esq.


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