Davis v. The Board of County Commissioners of Doña Ana County
January 23, 2011
1. What was the legal issue in this case?
The legal issue in the case of Davis v. The Board of County Commissioners of Doña Ana County involved acts of ill-will which could have been avoided. While employed as a detention officer at the Dona Ana County Detention Center, Joseph Herrera, was accused of unsuitable sexual behavior with female prison inmates and of exchanging favors for sex acts. Herrera’s supervisor, Frank Steele, investigated the charges and advised Herrera that he would be reprimanded. Herrera resigned to avoid disciplinary action. Six days later, Steele wrote a recommendation letter ...view middle of the document...
The court concluded that employers who choose to recommend individuals for employment owe a reasonable duty of care to prospective employers and other third parties. When they decline to utilize reasonable care in their employment references, employers are subject to liability for negligent misrepresentation.
3. Should it have mattered that the former employer’s investigation was not able to confirm all of the allegations against Herrera? Explain your answer.
It does not matter that the former employer’s investigation was not able to confirm all of the allegations against Herrera because the decision relied upon legal fundamentals that place liability on a person who either deliberately or negligently provides false information to another for the physical harm that results from an act done in dependence on the information. Therefore, the essential component is the presence of some false information. The false information doesn’t need to be an explicit dismissal of a particular fact. Rather, the failure to provide a claim of negligent or intentional misrepresentation. The case would not have reached this conclusion had the employer refused to provide an employment reference at all. The court specifically acknowledged that the former employer could have avoided all liability by remaining silent.
4. What practical implications does this decision hold? Are you convinced by the court’s claim that this ruling should not make employers more reluctant to provide references?
Based on the decision, the practical implications are that if an employer is going to give a reference on...