There are many instances when an employer may not be expected to look into a new hire’s criminal background. For instance, a hotel groundskeeper who has no direct access to guest rooms may be subject to different hiring requirements than cleaning personnel who may have keys and direct access to each room. It stands to reason that the groundskeeper may not have to submit to a criminal background check while the cleaning personnel would.
This scenario may have been true in the past, but due to the increase in job-related crimes, savvy employers know that they should require thorough background screening of each and every employee they hire, including, in the case of the hotel groundskeeper, those with no direct access to guests.
The reason for a comprehensive policy of background checks across the board is that it’s not just guests, clients, or customers who sue. Employees themselves have a right to expect to be reasonably safe on the job. And they have the right to hold the employer responsible for ensuring that safety. So, using the example of the hotel groundskeeper, although he may not have direct access to hotel guests:
1. He could commit a crime against a guest even though he has no direct access.
2. He could commit a crime against a coworker.
3. He could commit a crime against someone in the immediate vicinity of the establishment.
4. He could commit a crime against a contractor or vendor present on hotel property.
Looking at such scenarios, it’s a wonder why all employers don’t automatically screen every employee. The reason most don’t, the reason why they play Russian roulette with the safety of their employees, clients, customers, and contractors, is because it can be cost prohibitive to perform background screening on all employees. But, in the long run, inviting a negligent hiring lawsuit just isn’t worth the risk of failing to exercise reasonable care when hiring. After all, a negligent hiring lawsuit can not only be expensive, it can ruin the reputation of an organization. Again, using the example of the hotel employee who rapes a coworker (or a guest!), the hotel could lose a lot of business from the adverse publicity generated by such a lawsuit.
Hindsight is Better than Foresight, but Foresight is Smarter
It seems that in this new age of negligent hiring lawsuits, employers are expected to be clairvoyant. But, victims don’t quite see it the same way. Any employee, guest, client, customer, or contractor who becomes the victim of a crime due to the failure of an employer to thoroughly, if not properly, screen their employees for anything that may affect the rights of the victim can be reasonably considered the responsibility of the employer. This is because it is assumed that it is not just the individual who is responsible for his or her behavior; it is the employer who has to ensure that all employees hired meet a certain standard. After all, victims aren’t likely to receive financial compensation from the perpetrator, are they?
Ultimately, it’s not less expensive to cut corners on pre-employment screening. A lawsuit can be damaging in so many ways. Smart employers require all employees to submit to thorough background screening.
What are “diploma mills”?
A diploma mill or degree mill is an organization that awards academic diplomas with substandard or no academic study at all. These diplomas are not recognized by accrediting bodies. All that is required to get a diploma from a diploma mill is a valid credit card. There are no real standards and studying is not necessary.
With so many schools out there, legitimate or otherwise, how can employers make sure they are not being duped by unethical employees? The best way for an employer to get verification is to hire a professional employment background screening agency to research the educational background of an applicant or employee. These agencies have the experience, resources and skills to distinguish between legitimate and bogus schools.
Why employees buy into diploma mills
Some employees who purchase diplomas are under the impression that they are getting legitimate degrees. They are sold on the marketing ploys diploma mills use, such as, accepting “life experience” for credit toward a diploma. While it is true that some legitimate colleges offer “life experience” for credit, it is usually under very strict guidelines.
On the other hand, there are some employees who purchase fake diplomas to fool current or prospective employers. These employees see it as an easy way to get ahead with as little effort as possible. After all, $1000 for a bogus bachelor’s degree is much cheaper than a legitimate community college degree.
How fake diplomas may be a liability for employers
Imagine hiring an employee who turns out to have a fake medical or accounting degree. The consequences can be devastating to innocent clients and to an organization. Keep in mind that the employer is liable for any damage that an employee may cause while on the job. This is especially true if the employee was hired without verification of his or her qualifications.
Accredited, unaccredited and diploma mills
How can an employer tell the difference? Sometimes it is very obvious. Real school: Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. Fake school: Stanford University, anywhere else. Sometimes it is not so obvious, which is why diploma mills are a billion dollar business. It is highly unlikely that these diploma mills will disappear any time soon.
In order to attract customers, many of these diploma mills use the exact name or a similar name of a well- known college. The people who run these mills know they will eventually be closed down, but in the meantime they will have made millions of dollars. Even if they are closed down today, they will open up another “school” tomorrow. This is partly due to the ease of advertising on the internet and the demand for fake diplomas.
How an employer can protect against applicants with fake diplomas?
One of the best ways to combat this increasingly persistent problem is to make sure every employee goes through an employment background screen, including an educational background search. A professional employment background firm will be able to distinguish accredited schools from unaccredited diploma mills.
The reality is that most Human Resource departments are too busy to investigate every school on an applicant’s resume or application. Many of these diploma mills are very sophisticated to the point of having a “registrar” that can verify the validity of their diplomas. It is usually best to leave this type of verification to an experienced employment background screen firm, especially one that is familiar with diploma mills.
Hiring managers generally fill positions according to which applicant is best for the job. They consider aspects of an applicant’s education, past work history, experience, etc. But, rarely, do hiring managers consider what can often be the most important aspect of what an employee brings to the workplace – criminal history.
Negligent hiring occurs when an employer fails to properly screen prospective employees, leading to the hiring of someone who has a criminal history that may have otherwise made the hiring of that individual undesirable primarily because doing so would have exposed other employees to unsafe working conditions.
For instance, if an employer hired someone who had been convicted previously convicted of rape to supervise an offsite group of female employees, that employer could be held legally liable should something occur on, or off, the job site. One the job site, the employer would be obviously liable. Off the job site, the waters become murky, but the case of a BP oil spill cleanup supervisor who offered a female coworker a ride home, then allegedly raped the woman, shows that employers may be liable for what happens outside the workplace if that employer’s actions, or lack thereof, could be viewed as the reason someone becomes the victim of a crime perpetrated by a coworker.
What all this means is that employers have to make sure that the people they hire don’t have a criminal background. An employer who becomes liable because an employee has become the victim of a criminal act perpetrated by a coworker, may be in that position because the law assumes that the employer should have known, had they performed a background check, that the employee they hired may have been a danger to those around him/her (or even to a client/customer of the organization).
The law requires employers to exercise what is called due diligence. Due diligence is the responsibility of vetting prospective employees for not only basic job skills and previous work history, but for personal factors that may be an issue within the workplace as well. Existing employees and customers have a right to expect a safe workplace. And, although there are certainly many things that can change after hiring, an employer’s failure to properly screen employees may leave them vulnerable to lawsuits and even criminal negligence.
The only way for employers to protect themselves against a negligent hiring lawsuit is to ensure that they have a sound and comprehensive pre-employment screening policy in place. A good pre-employment screening policy should not only include a check of educational information, prior employment history, and other “usual” employment-related requirements, but it should also require that anyone offered employment be subject to a thorough criminal background check.
All employees hired by an organization should be required to submit to such a screening. It is no longer good enough for employers to screen only those employees who may be in a position to directly damage the company’s bottom line – such as executive-level employees, those with access to company funds, etc. – but all employees. The people an organization hires are now, in many ways, considered the responsibility of that organization, both on, and in some instances, off the job. Employers have to protect themselves and their employees.
The Worst Employees
These employees seem to cause or attract trouble wherever they go. The problems can be mild like the chronic troublemaker who always seems to have a hard time getting to work on time because the car had a flat tire or there was an “accident”. Then there is the extreme employee who can cause physical and financial harm.
Employers can avoid the “worst employees of the year” by having solid recruiting practices in place. This should include using a professional pre-employment screening firm such as Accu-Screen, Inc. The careful screen of an employee can reveal many inconsistencies and allow an employer to make a solid and informed hiring decision.
When you use the services provided by Accu-Screen, Inc. you can avoid hiring employees who are:
The worst employees awards
If there was an award for the “worst employees of the year”, these employees would win hands down:
The violent employee
This violent employee should be avoided at all costs. This type of employee does not work well with others and may cause harm to fellow employees and other persons they come into contact with at work.
The lazybones employee
This type of employee will come to work, do as little work as possible and complain all day long about how much work they do. This type of employee is generally unproductive and likes to spend a good part of the day socializing. This employee acts busy when the boss is around, but will go from cubicle to cubicle at the first opportunity.
Several kinds of employees can be categorized under unskilled employees. This employee will usually embellish his or her skills during an interview to land a job.
The lack of skill is readily apparent once this person is asked to perform the tasks in the position. Unfortunately by then they could have caused minor or very serious damage to a business, fellow employees, clients or patients.
Watch out for fake licenses, credentials, references and even bogus degrees from this employee. They are also known to outright steal someone else’s identity in order to get a job.
Some job seekers with a criminal past will lie about it on their resume′or application.
These employees range from petty criminals to violent offenders. Regardless of the criminal record, an employer should be aware of this prior to making a job offer. Keep in mind that an employer is responsible for his or her employee’s behavior while on the clock.
* The “Finagle’s Law” employee who is always the victim of an elaborate chain of events that prevents them from being at work on time, coming back from lunch on time and requires them to leave early.
* The “sufferer” who always works harder and longer than everyone else. This employee also refuses to take a lunch or a break because they just have so much work to do. This wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t spend half of their time letting everyone know how “overworked or busy” they are.
* The “saboteur” You can’t turn your back on this employee because she is eyeing your job. This employee makes it difficult for an employer to do their job because of the time, energy and effort involved in managing this employee.
If an award for the worst employee of the year were being given, any of these employees would easily receive it. Employers make sure you don’t end up with these “winners”.
The BP oil spill has certainly resulted in quite a mess that needs cleaning up. But, the mess goes much farther than the spill itself. At least one very serious legal issue has arisen as a result of a lack of pre-employment screening.
According to reports, one Rundy Charles Robertson, 41, a temporary worker hired to work on the oil spill cleanup, raped a coworker – a woman on the crew he was supervising. Turns out the victim was working side-by-side with a convicted sex offender.
Robertson, with a criminal record dating back to 1991, a 1996 conviction for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and a 2003 conviction for cruelty to children, was hired by an employment firm contracted by an environmental firm working for BP to provide cleanup workers. Now, everyone’s playing “pass the buck.”
BP hired the Miller Environmental Group, who hired Aerotek, the staffing agency, to provide workers for the cleanup. Aerotek did not perform background checks on the employees it hired for the job. One witness even said that potential workers were applying for jobs with house-arrest collars on. Aerotek claims that it did not require background checks because they were not required in their contract with Miller. However, they did start requiring checks about three weeks after the fact, per Miller’s request.
Aerotek claims it is not responsible because it was only following the guidelines Miller required. BP claims they are not responsible because they entrusted Miller with the task. Is Miller responsible?
Ultimately, someone will be held legally and financially responsible for not performing background checks on individuals hired to work on the BP cleanup. Sure, Robertson, if convicted, will serve time for his crime.
But, neither a jail sentence for Robertson, nor reparations made by any or all of the companies involved will eliminate the fact that a woman has been brutalized.
A simple background check would have uncovered Robertson’s criminal history and excluded him from employment.
Hiring bad employees can be one of the biggest mistake an employer can ever do. This can put the company’s name and reputation at stake and put the your life and those of your other employees at risk.
There are many ways you can do to avoid having bad employees get into your company. But probably the most effective one is by conducting an intensive employment background search. A background check will be able to supply information regarding an applicant’s personal data, criminal records, driving records, medical records, educational background, employment history, military records, licenses, character references and many others.
This not only helps you avoid people who have undergone resume falsification by confirming the information stated in the resume, but more importantly this helps you avoid employees who had been involved in cases like fraud, stealing, sexual abuse or violent behavior.
Imagine hiring a person whom did not know has a history of violent behavior. One day you find out about it after he physically injured one of your customers. This customer then sues your company and affects your company’s reputation negatively. An employment background search will help you avoid such scenarios.
Another way you can avoid bad employees is by doing some investigations on your own. For one, you can contact the applicant’s previous employers so you will get to know the kind of performance he had for his former employer. Just be careful of pretend-references who are people paid to pretend as employer references.
You can also save yourself from all the troubles that a bad employee may inflict by having an employee in the applicants’ waiting room pose as a fellow applicant. This employee will say negative things about the employer or say things like, “I really don’t plan to stay long in this company.” How the applicants react and comment would give you an idea on the kind of employee they will be when they get into your company.