Arkansas References laws & HR compliance analysis

Arkansas References: What you need to know

Reference checks are a useful way for employers to gather information about applicants that might not be discovered through the application and interview process. However, despite the usefulness of reference checking, many employers are legitimately concerned about lawsuits from former employees based on information provided in response to a request for a reference. This can create a quandary for employers.
Employers are also concerned about liability for the actions of employees where the company failed to conduct a thorough reference check. Arkansas, like many states, has recognized the tort of negligent hiring (Saine v. Comcast Cablevision of Arkansas, Inc., 126 S.W.3d 339, 344-45, 354 Ark. 492 (2003)). Employers may be liable for intentional or negligent acts of an employee if they knew or should have known of an employee's dangerous propensities. Therefore, employers should be diligent in conducting reference and background checks on new employees, particularly when the job involves contact with the public.
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Employers are often reluctant to provide negative information about a former employer in a reference for fear of a defamation claim. Employers also worry about negligent hiring claims if they fail to adequately check an employee's background and references. To deal with this conundrum, a number of states have enacted laws “immunizing” employers against employee claims over such disclosures. The immunity laws generally provide protection from claims by former employees for defamation of character.
Arkansas has a reference immunity law. Under Arkansas law, a current or former employer is presumed to be acting in good faith and is, as a result, immune from liability for the ...

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