Texas Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill 1188 on June 14, 2013, limiting the liability of people who employ convicts. The bill adds Chapter 142 to Title 6 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. The new law took effect immediately.
The new chapter generally prohibits (with important exceptions) any civil action against an employer solely for hiring or failing to adequately supervise an employee based on evidence of the employee’s criminal conviction. The protections provided under the law extend to general contractors, premises owners, or other third parties.
However, an employer may be liable for negligent hiring if it knew or should have known of the conviction, and the employee was convicted of certain crimes. The crimes listed in the law are:
- An offense 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;
- The following offenses listed in Section 3g, Article 42.12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure: murder, capital murder, indecency with a child, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery, sexual assault, injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual, sexual performance by a child, compelling prostitution, trafficking of persons, a first degree felony offense, the use of a child in the commission of a crime, and a drug-related offense committed in or within 1000 feet of schools, playgrounds, youth centers, swimming pools, or video arcade facilities; or
- A sexually violent offense.
A negligent hiring or negligent supervision claim may also be filed against an employer for claims concerning the misuse of funds or property under some circumstances. To file a claim in this instance, the job must involve discharging a fiduciary responsibility in the management of funds or property, or the crime includes “fraud or the misuse of funds or property.”
As a result of this legislation, some employers will take comfort in knowing they will not be held liable for hiring individuals with criminal histories. A criminal background check will be useful to determine if an applicant or employee has a conviction of one or more of the crimes listed in the bill.
The full text of House Bill 1188 is available at: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/83R/billtext/pdf/HB01188F.pdf#navpanes=0