Screening News Update: Massive Negligent Hiring Verdict, Biometric Lawsuits, and Fighting Addiction with Cash

Screening News Update: Massive Negligent Hiring Verdict, Biometric Lawsuits, and Fighting Addiction with Cash

By Jennifer Gladstone

Negligent hiring costs trucking companies a billion dollars after a deadly crash, lawsuits over biometric data continue to rise, and one state wants to fight drug addiction with cash. It’s all coming up in today’s EBI Screening News Update.

Jury Awards $1B After Deadly Crash

Skipping background checks and distracted drivers are blamed for the death of a teen on a Florida highway. Now, the companies involved have been ordered to pay $1 billion in damages. Ninety percent of the massive award handed up by the jury was for negligent hiring on the part of one of the companies.

In September of 2017, 18-year-old Connor Dzion got stuck in traffic. He sat for more than an hour in gridlock because a truck driver got distracted by his phone, slammed into another car, and flipped his rig. That driver was hired with no background check, no commercial license to drive a truck, and several previous violations for driving aggressively, crashes, and speeding. He was also on the 25th hour of a trip from Quebec to Palm Beach.

As people sat in the traffic caused by that accident, another truck driver, who was driving on cruise control at 70 miles per hour, didn’t hit the brakes until one second before he slammed into a line of cars. This second accident cost Connor his life.

Together, the two companies now have to pay Connor’s family more than $100 million for causing his death. The company that did not do a background check on its dangerous driver must also pay an additional $900 million in punitive damages.

Surge in Biometric Data Lawsuits

Employers in Illinois are suddenly facing a crush of class action lawsuits thanks to the state’s Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA).

A few weeks ago, we told you about a settlement between Six Flags Great America and season pass holders. Since then, there has been a rapid increase in similar lawsuits against employers for allegedly misusing employees’ biometric data. Some experts are saying they are seeing a new lawsuit every single day.

Earlier this year, Walmart offered $10 million to settle a class action that accused management of using palm scanners without getting written consent from the employees. Now, just months later, employees have filed another suit over the company’s efforts to use voice recognition software to track them over work headsets.

Topgolf settled a lawsuit that accused them of collecting and disclosing finger scans that were supposed to keep employees from clocking in for someone else. Class members will split more than $2.5 million in settlement funds.

Now, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree are facing a proposed class action for collecting fingerprints without the right disclosures and consents from employees.

While most states do not have such biometric privacy laws on the books yet, it’s important for employers who hire in multiple states to understand that they do exist and to know that more of these laws have already been proposed across the country.

Fighting Addiction with Cash?

Is cold, hard cash the way to pull people out of addiction? Lawmakers in California think it could work, and they want to use tax dollars to try.

Drug overdoses and deaths are surging in California, as in many states. Unlike with opioids, there are no medical interventions to help those addicted to stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamines. The only option is often pure willpower.

Lawmakers hope that paying addicts for every drug test they pass will give them the extra little push needed to stay sober. It’s not a huge amount of money – about $330 over 12 weeks – but some who have gone through the “contingency management” program say it works.

Governor Gavin Newsom is asking for help from the federal government so they can pay for the program through Medicaid.

About the Author

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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