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Effective August 3: Arizona Law Reduces Liability for Employers Hiring Ex-Offenders

A new Arizona law taking effect August 3 provides a broad exemption from negligent hiring claims for employers that hire workers who have criminal convictions. Arizona is the seventh state in the United States to enforce this type of law; could this be a sign of things to come for other employers around the country?

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House Bill 2311, which applies to both employees and independent contractors, means that in cases in which a negligent hiring claim is based on more than just the past conviction, evidence of the conviction will be prevented from being introduced in the case.

For negligent supervision claims, evidence of a prior conviction can be introduced but only if the employer knew of the conviction—or was grossly negligent in not knowing about the conviction—and the conviction was directly related both to the nature of the work and the conduct that gave rise to the claim.

The new law includes three exceptions. The liability exemption and evidentiary exclusion don’t apply if:

  • The claim is misuse of money or property of a third party, and on the date of hire or contracting, the employee had a conviction for fraud or the misuse of money or property, and it was foreseeable that the job would involve discharging a fiduciary responsibility in the management of money or property;
  • The claim is misappropriation of money and on the date of hire or contracting, the employee had a conviction for fraud or the misuse of money or property, and the employee was hired to work as an attorney; and
  • The claim involves violence or use of excessive force, and the employee was hired as a law enforcement officer or security guard.

Arizona joins six other states with similar laws limiting an employer’s liability for hiring someone previously convicted of a crime, according to the house summary of the bill.

For more information on Arizona’s new laws, see “New laws a mixed bag for Arizona employers” in the June issue of Arizona Employment Law Letter.

Dinita L. James is an attorney with Gonzalez Law, LLC, in Tempe and the editor of Arizona Employment Law Letter. She can be reached at dinita.james@gnzlaw.com.