HR Management & Compliance, Recruiting

New Negligent Hiring Law Taking Effect in Iowa

A new Iowa state law limiting employers’ liability for negligent hiring is set to take effect July 1.

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House File (HF) 650 is seen as providing a second chance for individuals with past criminal offenses by limiting employers’ liability if something happens in the workplace involving an employee with a previous conviction.

The new law says a negligent hiring claim may not be filed “solely on evidence” the employee, agent, or independent contractor at issue had been “convicted of a public offense,” but the law allows for use of a past conviction as part of a negligent hiring claim.

The law contains a number of conditions and allows for significant employer discretion. Employers need to consider several factors, such as whether the offense was “committed while performing duties . . . substantially similar to those reasonably expected to be performed in the employment.” Other factors to consider are similar to guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including:

  • Nature and seriousness of the conviction;
  • Extent and nature of past criminal activity;
  • Age of the person at the time the criminal offense was committed;
  • Amount of time since the conviction; and
  • If it was a sexually violent or otherwise violent offense.

One significant exception to the law is that it doesn’t apply if the person has been convicted of the misuse of funds or property of a third person and is placed in a job with similar opportunity for abuse, specifically when an employee would be “discharging a fiduciary responsibility in the management of funds or property.”

For more information on the new negligent hiring law and other actions of the Iowa legislature, see the June issue of Iowa Employment Law Letter.

Jo Ellen Whitney is an attorney with the Davis Brown Law Firm in Des Moines, Iowa. She can be reached at joellenwhitney@davisbrownlaw.com.