ADT Salesman Accused of Rape and Attempted Murder - is ADT Exposed?

April 30, 2013


    According to news reports an ADT salesman in Tampa Fl was accused of rape and attemtped murder.  The man was apparently canvassing homes soliciting for sales.  Every alarm company faces the same risk, and the publicity certainly isn't anything good for your company, or the industry.   What exposure does the alarm company face for the clearly illegal acts of its employee?  It's a complicated issue and very fact sensitive because employers are not generally responsible for another's illegal activity just because they happen to work for the employer and committed the wrongdoing during or off work hours.              However, when an employer places an employee in the stream of commerce, gives an indicia of certain pre screening qualifications, there may be exposure.  

    Take Florida, where this incident is alleged to have occured.  Alarm Companies need to be licensed in Florida.  The licensing statutes are found in CHAPTER 489; PART II; ELECTRICAL AND ALARM SYSTEM CONTRACTING (ss. 489.501-489.538)  (2006).  I believe an alarm salesman would fall within the definition of a Burglar alarm system agent.  Here's the statutory definition, which includes "selling onsite":

 (25) "Burglar alarm system agent" means a person:

(a) Who is employed by a licensed alarm system contractor or licensed electrical contractor;

(b) Who is performing duties which are an element of an activity which constitutes alarm system contracting requiring licensure under this part; and

(c) Whose specific duties include any of the following: altering, installing, maintaining, moving, repairing, replacing, servicing, selling onsite, or monitoring an intrusion or burglar alarm system for compensation.

     Here are the qualifications for the salesman and it is the Alarm Company's responsibility to ensure that these qualifications are met:

 489.518 Alarm system agents.--

(1) A licensed electrical or alarm system contractor may not employ a person to perform the duties of a burglar alarm system agent unless the person:

(a) Is at least 18 years of age or has evidence of a court-approved declaration of emancipation.

(b) Has successfully completed a minimum of 14 hours of training, to include basic alarm system electronics in addition to related training including CCTV and access control training, with at least 2 hours of training

     I didn't notice if fingerprinting is required, as it is in New York and perhaps other jurisdictions.  Obviously if an Alam Company does not comply with the minumal statutory requirements for screening and hiring employees there is greater risk of exposure for the employee's wrongdoing while working in the course of employment.

    If you are sending employees into peoples' homes I think you should carefully screen these employees, and that includes criminal background checks.  

    A background check that does not reveal any history that would preclude employment is not the end of the responsibility.  An Employer who believes or suspects that an employee is or can be dangerous to the employer's customers [or other employees] should take steps to protect others,  This may include further investigation into the suspected employee's current mental condition, or it may be enough to simply terminate the employment or reassign the employee to responsibilities that do not include interaction with the public, at least at their homes or places of business.  

    What employment law issues you may need to be aware of I'll leave to the head of our Employment Law Department, Judge Ruth Kraft, and you can contact her directly if you have question or need a consulation.  She can be reached at 516 747 6700 x 326 or RKraft@KirschenbaumEsq,com.

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