Gov. Rick Perry has signed legislation providing important protections for employers facing negligent hiring or supervision claims.
The new law also makes it more attractive for employers to hire applicants with criminal records.
The new law pulls off that unlikely two-fer by amending the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code to prohibit most causes of action “against an employer ... solely for negligently hiring or failing to adequately supervise an employee, based on evidence that the employee has been convicted of an offense.”
The law—Texas H.B. 1188—goes into effect Sept. 1.
The Texas Legislature acted after hearing testimony that applicants with criminal records “receive less than half as many job offers as job-seekers without criminal records.”
The law is intended to “enhance public safety, raise employment levels, ... and allow job-seekers with criminal records to become self-sufficient, law-abiding citizens.”
The law should also alleviate most employer concerns about potential liability for hiring applicants with criminal records.
The statute includes several exceptions. Individuals can still sue for negligent hiring if they contend if an employer knew or should have known an employee had been convicted of:
- An offense “that was committed while performing duties substantially similar to those reasonably expected to be performed in the employment, or under conditions substantially similar to those reasonably expected to be encountered in the employment”
- A sexually violent offense
- Certain offenses identified in Article 42.12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, including murder, indecency with a child, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery.
The law also allows negligent hiring or negligent supervision claims in certain situations related to misuse of funds or property if the employee had previously been convicted of a crime involving fraud or misuse of funds or property.
The new law should benefit both employers and job applicants with criminal records, who often have a hard time finding employment.
The Texas Legislature appears to be trying to protect employers that have decided to give a second chance to people who have been convicted of some crimes.