In-Depth Pre-Employment Screening May Have Stopped A Lawsuit
It happens; companies hire employees without conducting pre-employment screening and sometimes the results are disturbing if not outrageous. There are those who would argue that employee background checks don’t give people with criminal records an opportunity to turn their lives around. They say that those with criminal histories are limited in the job opportunities where they would be considered employable. While I understand this I also have seen serious, if not dangerous situations in the workplace when people with a criminal record are hired and have not been through a thorough vetting process.
In a recent story in wibc.com, “Lawsuits Against Goodwill Say They Failed to Stop Sex Offender”, by RTV 6, Jun. 20, 2018, they report that, “Five people have filed lawsuits in Hamilton County this week against Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana alleging the organization failed to protect its workers from a registered sex offender.” The complaints against the stores are that an employee on the sex offender registry with a criminal record for child pornography and voyeurism was recording other employees unbeknownst to them in the bathroom of the store. A spokesperson for Goodwill said that as soon as the company learned of it was reported to police. But this is the issue, it was a reaction to a violation that might not have taken place had a more intensive pre-employment screening been conducted. One of the victims in the complaint is a teenage worker.
In case you are not familiar with what employee background checks are or how they work, I would like to spend a bit of time discussing them. A company that specializes in conducting checks, for example Loss Prevention Systems Inc. can research the history of a prospective job candidate on a number of levels. They can look up criminal histories, driving records, verify past employers and look at where a candidate says they have resided in the past. Perhaps an employer would like to restrict a position to someone with a certain college degree or level of college for example a Master’s in Business Finance. A pre-employment screening process can validate whether the applicant attained the educational requirements you have laid out. For the protection of employees and customers you may want to ensure a new hire is not on a sex offender registry. There are a lot of options and background check companies can help tailor the check criteria to best suit the needs of the particular employer. In the case of a retail store considerations include employees will be working directly with customers. They may be hired to work around money or in a work center with little direct oversight. Any of these could open up opportunities for different criminal activity.
In the case of the Goodwill store employee, IF the allegations prove to be true there were considerations that appear to have been overlooked. Goodwill is trying to give people with criminal records an opportunity to clean up their act and get a decent job. There are other businesses doing this as well and their intentions are good. The problem is that there still needs to be a closer look at what type of history the potential employee has. Is it something that would put others in danger? It is my contention that someone who has been placed on a sex offender registry should not be working around customers and I would further suggest that the employees who would be working around this person have a right to know who may be working with them. There may be no problem hiring someone to work in a retail business if they have a DUI conviction. An employer may even give consideration to someone who has been upfront about a record for petit larceny or burglary. If a business owner has indicated on a job ad or on the application that they will consider people with criminal records for hire and the convictions are only revealed as a result of employee background checks, great care should be taken before a decision to hire is made.
Wanting to give a person convicted of crimes the chance to turn their lives around is not a bad idea. But if you choose to do so you should make it clear your company will consider such persons with the expectation the person is honest about it on their application. A detailed pre-employment screening should be done for every candidate in the final running for a position not simply the person admitting to a criminal record. Remember that there are other people you must consider in your decision making and the reputation of your business as well. A poor hiring decision can lead to all sorts of unintended consequences. Hopefully Goodwill will make some changes in their background checks for the future.
Employee background checks are important and we can help you with it. Call 1.866.914.2567 and let’s talk.