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. In the lawsuit filed 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.
KFC only conducted criminal history checks 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.