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The Business Guide to Background Checks

August 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog


What is negligent hiring?

Negligent hiring is based on the principal that employers have an obligation to protect their employees and clients from injury caused by their own employees. Employers have an obligation to protect their employees from the “foreseeable” acts of a fellow employee. Negligent hiring happens when a company fails to check references or conduct a criminal background screening prior to hiring the employee. In other words, a company has the responsibility of Due Diligence.

The term “Due Diligence” first came into common use as a result of the US Securities Act of 1933. For business purposes, “Due Diligence” is the effort made by an ordinarily prudent or reasonable party to avoid harm to another party. Failure to make this effort may be considered negligence.

It’s important that employers perform their Due Diligence by conducting a background screening on every employee hired. This should be done regardless of the size the workforce or whether law requires it or not. Ideally, prior to hiring a prospective employee an employer needs to perform a pre-employment background screening that includes a criminal records check. The employee should not start work until the background information is verified and a criminal background check is performed.

According to Kevin G. Connell, Founder and CEO of Accu-Screen, Inc., the most reliable criminal records information is found at the local courthouse level. Unfortunately, the processing of criminal records at this level is slow and inaccurate at times. Getting criminal background information off the internet, in order to save money, is also counterproductive. There is no way to verify that the information received in that manner is accurate or even applicable. By hiring an employment background search firm such as Accu-Screen, Inc. Inc. you will receive

-Experience:  Since 1994, Accu-Screen, Inc. has been a pioneer in the pre-employment Screening field.

-Speed: With a guaranteed turnaround time of 24-72 hours, Accu-Screen, Inc. delivers background reports consistently faster than the competition.

-Technology: Accu-Screen, Inc.’s Online System delivers a 24/7 paperless system to order and retrieve background reports.

Examples of Negligent Hiring

It is very important to do a pre-employment background screen on service, contract and even sub-contract employees. Some overlooked service, contract and sub-contract positions include:

• Taxi drivers
• Plumbers
• Pest Control
• Maintenance employees

If an employee will be contact with a customer or public it is imperative that he or she go through the process of a professional employment and criminal background screen. A professional employment and criminal background screen can help you avoid the possible following scenarios:

• A taxicab company was held liable for negligence in hiring a criminally violent driver who raped and robbed a woman in the presence of her two young children.

• A taxicab company was liable for a person beaten by a taxicab driver after paying his fare and leaving the cab.

• The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York awarded $1.5 million to a woman and her son who suffered physical and psychological injuries following a sexual assault on the woman by the maintenance man employed at the defendant’s apartment complex.

• An employer was held liable for the negligent hiring and retention of a sexually aggressive service employee with a criminal record who subsequently raped a female client.

You hear about these incidents all the time. You also wonder how and why these people ever got hired and how it could have been avoided. In many of the incidents, the employee had a history of violent or criminal behavior that would have been discovered through a pre-employee background screen by a professional screening firm. These situations can be avoided at your company when employers are pro-active in the hiring of its employees.

It is important to remember that there are positions that require employment background screening regardless of whether the position is a regular or contract position. For example:

• Elder care attendant
• Daycare provider
• Health care worker

On a side note, elder abuse lawsuits are on the rise. Cases involving long-term care facilities are based on negligence, willful misconduct or fraud by an elderly care attendant. Examples of abuse by health care employees:

• Deprivation of food or water
• Failure to prevent malnutrition
• Failure to assist in personal hygiene
• Unauthorized use of physical or chemical restraints
• Lack of pain medication, under medication or overmedication

Many of the cases stem from poor hiring practices throughout the long-term care facilities. This occurs when service employees are hired without a careful screening of their background and skills for this type of position. It can also occur when employees are promoted without verification of required credentials and training. These employees go onto to supervise and teach other employees poor and possibly dangerous working habits. The similar situation occurs for daycare and healthcare workers.

Consequences of negligent hiring

Most businesses have a hiring process that is followed for every job applicant. Typically the recruitment process entails the following steps:

• Application or resume′ submitted by applicant
• Phone screening of applicant
• Candidate is interviewed
• Management meets to make hiring decision
• References may be checked by Human Resources
• Job offer is made

This procedure would be fine if a third party such as an employment-screening firm checked the references. Additionally, a candidate should pass a criminal records screen. When a thorough reference and criminal screening is not made, or handled poorly, it can literally come back to haunt employers. The recruiting process should be handled like any other business deal. Hiring a candidate based on information on a resume’ and a good personality fit, should not be what seals the deal. Every bit of allowable and available information should be gathered before a job offer is made.

The fact is that many human resources departments do not have the time, resources or experience to do a complete employee background screen. For most employers, finding the most accurate and up to date criminal records information is very time consuming and confusing. Furthermore, there are privacy laws protecting job applicants that must be followed in order to avoid a discrimination lawsuit.

Some of the consequences of negligent hiring can result in:

• Lawsuits from injured or victimized employees or clients
• Wrongful termination lawsuits
• Loss of profits or sales
• Increased insurance costs
• Diminished business reputation

Lawsuits from injured or victimized employees or clients

Lawsuits can come from a variety of complaints from employees or clients. The most serious complaints include violence and great financial loss. This can involve an employee who caused another person physical or emotional damage. Although cases of fatalities in the workplace are not commonplace, the results of these incidents are devastating to the victims and to a business.

Wrongful termination lawsuits

A ploy used by unethical employees is the ‘wrongful termination” lawsuit.
This happens when an unproductive or troublesome employee is fired. In retaliation, he or she will file a lawsuit against the employer. The goal is usually to settle fast to avoid a hearing in court to settle the matter. These opportunistic employees usually have cases without merit. Yet, they know that some companies will just settle to avoid the expense of dragging on a lawsuit. Through careful screening of references, this type of employee can be avoided. It is not enough for employers to be aware of what is going on with their employees. They need to be aware of what their prospective employees have been up to in the past.

Loss of profits or sales

Hiring an inept employee can quite literally cost a company. It is important to have a candidate’s skills educational background to make sure they are fit to perform the job hired to do. It is equally important to do a criminal background screen to make sure the employee is an honest and ethical person. Be assured of these two aspects before making a hiring decision can save money and frustration in the future. Avoid hiring “poor functioning” employees that will drive you to the poor house!

Increased insurance costs

Increased insurance rates result from workers compensation claims. An employment records report will help identify and avoid “habitual” workers compensation claimants.

Diminished business reputation

Your employees are your company. Make sure you hire applicants who will make the best impression in every possible way. No one wants to conduct business with employees who are dishonest or violent in any manner. By obtaining a criminal background screening you will be able to decrease the likelihood of hiring an employee that will cause damage to your business or customers.

When employers fail to be pro-active in all area of their business, things can and will fall between the cracks. In some instances, these slips can be very expensive.

The expense of negligent hiring

A smart business owner will purchase different forms of insurance for the company and employees. Yet, sometimes that same businesses owner will hire people without insuring the business from perpetrators.

An unfortunate example is the recent story relayed of the story of an accountant who stole from his employers. The accountant was accused of stealing more than $375,000 from one of his clients rather than use the money to pay taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. According to court documents made available, the accountant was supposed to take care of payroll taxes for his employee and roughly ten of his employer’s staff at his dental office. The court documents say the accountant would prepare one check for each employee’s adjusted net income and one check for taxes. The documents also state that he asked, however, that the tax checks be made payable to his business, with the understanding he would send the money along to the IRS.

The dentist’s wife, who also works at the dental office received a letter from the IRS and soon found out no tax returns had been prepared or filed in her husband’s name in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. The total amount, more than $375,000, should have been sent to the IRS, but wasn’t. The court records indicate that a review of bank records show the accountant made numerous withdrawals from his business account for mortgage payments, concert and airline tickets and other personal uses.

The accountant has a prior criminal record. According to court records, in 1997 he pleaded guilty to stealing more than $250,000 from an 88-year-old legally blind woman for whom he was an accountant. He was only sentenced to four years of probation in that case.

Ironically enough an employment background screen that costs about $150 would have revealed the accountant’s prior criminal conviction. A smart business owner knows that the cost of something needs to be weighed against the end result. In this case the small cost of the background screen would have saved the dentist $375,000.

Then there are the situations where the actual figure can’t be calculated but it can equally cause a business financial loss. For example, if a company hires an employee that detracts sales from the company due to lack of skills, the actual loss is unknown but still occurs. Or there is the scenario where an employee is a poor performer due to personal issues, such as drug or alcohol abuse. This type of employee can literally drain the company of resources directly through theft or indirectly by lowering the morale of the company.

How to avoid negligent hiring

Sadly it has now become commonplace for some companies to assume they will eventually get sued by employees for one reason for another. It is true that a company or business owner can’t have control of all of the actions of its employees. Yet, steps can be and should be taken to prevent hiring risky employees. The goal of the employer should always be to minimize any potential harm to company assets. This, of course, includes employees as well as the finances of a business.

One of the best ways a company can avoid lawsuits from an applicant is by hiring a background search firm such as Accu-Screen, Inc. Inc. When you hire a reputable firm such as Accu-Screen, Inc. Inc., you also help avoid arbitrary hiring that may lead to a discrimination lawsuit.

Employers can be held liable for facts that are known or “should have been known” regarding an employee’s character or job-related experience. If you are aware, or have reason to believe your employee is unfit for duty, you can be held liable for negligent hiring. By retaining a qualified employment background screening company, you can avoid jeopardizing yourself and your business from this dangerous liability.

How Do I Choose An Expert Employee Screening Firm?

A full service firm such as Accu-Screen, Inc. Inc. will provide the most accurate and complete information on:

• Criminal Records
• Driving Records
• Drug Testing
• Social Security Number
• Employment
• Education
• Worker’s Compensation
• Licenses & Credentials
• Credit Profile

Criminal records

Accu-Screen, Inc. Inc. obtains criminal records by County and State (where available) in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Our analysis reveals that over 3% of the individuals we check have a felony record and over 7% have a misdemeanor. With our criminal record search, you receive a criminal history that is clear and easy to read, enabling you to make the right hiring decision.

Driving records

Accu-Screen, Inc. obtains Motor Vehicle Reports (MVRs) from the appropriate Department of Motor Vehicles to verify the applicant’s identity, histories of accidents, speeding tickets, reckless driving, suspended licenses, DUIs and DWIs. It is important to note that MVRs are not public records.

Drug Testing

Accu-Screen, Inc. is affiliated with a network of national laboratories that provide testing for legal and illegal drug usage. All testing is conducted through NIDA, DOT and HRS certified facilities and meets current Federal and State Drug-Free Workplace requirements. Additionally, we conduct previous employment drug test verifications as required by the FAA and the Department of Transportation.

Social Security Number

Accu-Screen, Inc. Inc. confirms the identity and validity of the number and its issuance by the Social Security Administration.

Employment

Our analysis tells us that over 43% of the applications that we process contain at least one falsification by the applicant. We verify the accuracy of employment history with emphasis placed on past job performance, employment periods, positions held, salary, rehire eligibility and reasons for leaving.

Education

The FBI estimates that over 500,000 people nationwide claim college degrees they never earned. We verify the applicant’s educational qualifications as well as the accreditation of the College or University awarding the degree.

Worker’s Compensation

Workers compensation information is released in compliance with the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act. It provides a history of the individual’s work-related injuries that includes dates of accidents, nature of injuries and if the claim was upheld or denied by the state authority.

Licenses & Credentials

Accu-Screen, Inc. Inc verifies all professional licenses and claims of credentials. This ensures that your prospective employee may legally perform the work required for the position.

Credit Profile

In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Accu-Screen, Inc. Inc. can provide a report indicating the applicant’s existing debt, payment history, judgments, liens, collections and/or bankruptcies.

There are many employee background-screening firms out there. Make sure to contact the firm’s customer service to get information on:

• Years of experience
• Fee for services
• Turnaround time
• Areas of expertise

Negligent hiring can be an expensive and frustrating experience. Fortunately, there are many measures employers and business owners can take to protect their business and employees. Having a pro-active attitude and having the right information during the recruitment of a new employee can make the difference between hiring a “star employee” or the “employee from hell”.

For more information on Accu-Screen, Inc. Inc. and how we can help you hire qualified and top-notch applicants visit www.accuscreen.com.

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