Screening and Safety
Business owners may wonder if incorporating pre-employment background checks during the hiring process is worth the time and expense. As a recent case highlights,background screenings can provide companies with critical information on an applicant, particularly in industries where worker carelessness leads to property damage or bodily injury.
Transportation company CRST, Inc. faces a $350 million lawsuit for a 2014 head-on crash that severely injured a police officer and his brother. The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that CRST, CRST Van Expedited and other companies were negligent in the hiring of driver Hector Contreras, who was behind the wheel of a CRST big rig when it crossed the center line and struck a vehicle carrying brothers Michael and Matthew Lennig.
According to the complaint, Contreras was intoxicated at the time of the accident. A press release issued last month by the Parris law firm stated that Michael, a California Highway Patrol officer, "shattered two vertebrae and sustained a traumatic brain injury," while Matthew suffered a brain injury and multiple rib fractures.
The suit claims that CRST has “a history of malicious misconduct in hiring, investigating and retaining its employees." In the Contreras case, the lawsuit maintains that CRST failed to perform an adequate background check on a driver involved in four preventable collisions prior to the July 2014 crash. In addition, the lack of an in-depth screening led CRST to hire an employee with an alleged record of numerous convictions, including driving under the influence, felony grand theft auto and possession of drug paraphernalia.
"CRST had also been alerted by his co-driver that Hector Contreras posed a danger to the public at large," the plaintiffs' attorney Khail Parris said in the press release. "Hector Contreras should have never been on the road, especially in an 8-ton big rig truck.”
Ultimately, comprehensive background screenings can act as a stopgap against preventable tragedies in fields where safety is a top priority.
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