In Harris v. KFC U.S. Properties, Inc., a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled that the operator of a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in Philadelphia was not liable to a customer who was pistol-whipped by a store clerk. Harris placed his order for Kentucky Fried Chicken but hesitated in selecting his side orders. The employee told Harris to "hurry up" and asked "do you want the [expletive] chicken or not?" Taken aback by the employee's rude conduct, Harris hesitated even more. In response, the employee pulled out a gun. Harris put up his hands and asked: "You going to shoot me over a bucket of chicken?" When another store employee yelled at the clerk and distracted him, Harris attempted to escape. Before he could leave the store, the employee pistol-whipped Harris, causing him a concussion and other injuries. In the lawsuit that followed, Harris claimed that KFC was negligent in not conducting a background check, and should have known that the assailant had a propensity for violence. KFC had a policy prohibiting employees from bringing guns or other weapons to the workplace. It conducted criminal history checks only of candidates for management positions. Rejecting Harris' claim, the court held that KFC was not legally required to conduct a criminal history check for store clerks. Further, if KFC had conducted a background check, the records would have revealed that employee had two prior convictions for nonviolent crimes from over five years ago. Under such circumstances, KFC was not legally on notice that the employee would bring a gun to work and pistol-whip a customer.
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Employer not required to conduct background check, and not liable to customer who was pistol-whipped by employee
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