“Shocked and disappointed” was coach Belichick’s response upon learning of the criminal investigation on New England Patriot’s tight end Aaron Hernandez. See the video about the coach’s statement accompanying this article. The Patriots certainly had a big financial commitment in Hernandez by signing him to the biggest contract ever offered a tight end in the NFL. What most may not realize is that negligent hiring can cost the Patriots millions more. Furthermore, Belichick’s hiring decision does additional damage to the public image of the National Football League. That is why Coach Belichick said they are going to scrutinize player prospects more closely for “red flags” in the future.
Negligent hiring can cost millions
Employers have a legal duty not to hire unfit individuals. It arises from OSHA’s general duty requirement to protect workers. Failure to screen out employees who cause harm to others places the employer in legal jeopardy. The average negligent hiring award is over $1 million, according to attorney Allison West. A California jury awarded the family of the murdered supervisor $5.5 million on a claim that the winery failed to recognize they had hired a dangerous person. Read more about Ramon Bojorquez Salcido, who also murdered six of his family members that day.
Difficult decision to hire
The Patriot organization had very little hard evidence to guide their decision. Earlier records of Hernandez criminal behavior caused him to be left until the fourth round of the draft when the Patriots selected him. That was late in the draft for a college senior awarded the best tight end in college football. However, information on Hernandez criminal behavior available at the time was limited to complaints rather than convictions. Employers are cautioned to use criminal background check information carefully or face a suit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission according to enforcement guidance released April 2012.
American football has evolved from clean-cut college players decades ago to swarthy professionals living on the edge of civilized behavior. The New England Patriots have presented a positive brand image to the public and are therefore, very sensitive to negative events such as this.
A good example of how hiring mistakes can lead to a public relations disaster is BP’s failure to conduct background checks. The worldwide British energy provider was trying to repair its damaged image by cleaning up an oil spill. Unfortunately one of the cleanup employees turned out to be a sex offender supervising others. His raping another employee made the news, causing yet another blow to the company’s already tarnished image.