Ford v. Gildin, 200 A.D.2d 224, 229 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dep’t 1994)

Facts:

The defendant, who owned and managed a building, hired an ex convict as the porter for the building. The employee, ex convict, was convicted of manslaughter in 1955. The employee was hired in 1964. During employment as a porter for the building the ex convict befriended the plaintiff’s mother and eventually became the plaintiff’s godfather. The employee then sexually abused the plaintiff for five years. The plaintiff sued for negligently hiring the ex convict.

Issue:

When is an employer held liable for negligently hiring an ex convict?

Held:

An employer, specifically here a building owner/ manager, is not liable for a negligent hiring suit if the employment is not directly related to the employee’s criminal record.

Reasoning:

The court reasoned that the sexual abusive relationship between the employee and plaintiff had nothing to do with the employee’s job as a porter. Rather the abuse stemmed from the fact that the employee lived in the building with the plaintiff, and was left watching the plaintiff unattended. The employee could have sexually abused the plaintiff if he had been a resident of the building, it did not matter that he worked there. The court did not want to create a precedent compelling employers not to hire ex-convicts. Employers should not have to worry about the possible negligent hiring suits stemming from hiring ex convicts. Ruling in the reverse would violate the public policy of trying “to reintegrate ex-offenders into mainstream society.”

By: Jonathan Sturm

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