Excerpted from a Forbes article by Edward Segal
News that background checks have been completed for four of President Joe Biden’s potential nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court is calling attention to the importance of employment background checks in the private sector and how they can help prevent a crisis for companies and organizations.
Joseph Hoelscher, managing attorney for law firm Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, said that, ”Failure to perform a background verification has created crises for employers from small businesses to major corporations, even entire industries.
Sexual Assault Allegations
“Fears of sexual assault by unchecked ride share drivers resulted in companies such as Uber and Lyft being banned in several markets, endangering the nascent industry until new procedures were put in place,” Hoelscher recalled.
Exaggerations On Resumes
He pointed out that, “Even an exaggeration on a resume can cause a crisis. Scott Thompson lasted barely four months as CEO of Yahoo! after lying about his academic credentials.”
Making Informed Decisions
Licensed private investigator Edward J. Ajaeb is president of Nighthawk Strategies, and an expert in background investigations, public records and social media intelligence.
“Background investigations help individuals and companies make informed decisions when it comes to their personal and business matters. These checks tell an important story about an individual’s suitability for a particular role. Background investigations can help prevent a crisis by flagging individuals who may pose a risk to the company because of past illegal behaviors, whether theft, violence, fraud or other crimes which suggest poor judgment.”
“It is obviously best for a company to learn about such history before a hiring decision is made. The risk is not just about preventing physical harm; failing to properly screen employees can make companies vulnerable to lawsuits, internal theft, regulatory investigations and sanctions, or even bankruptcy. Any small oversight or blissful ignorance may lead to a crisis that could destroy an organization,” he said.
As an example, Ajaeb recalled that last September, a D.C. judge sentenced a 60-year-old woman to 42 months in prison for stealing $1.5 million from a ballet school.
“She was the comptroller, entrusted with the school’s funds. Over the course of just nine months, the woman embezzled funds through unauthorized cash withdrawals, credit card charges and checks made out to her name.”
“To top it off, back in 2012, the same woman was convicted of tax evasion and filing a false tax return while working as a bookkeeper and treasurer for another organization,” Ajaeb recounted.
“Clearly, a background check should have caught these prior convictions, especially since they were of nearly identical nature. This is an example of not only the importance of background checks, but thoroughly weighing the risks against the facts in someone’s background and the calamities that can occur when those facts are ignored. Sadly, the ballet school announced that it will be shutting its doors due to financial issues,” he said.
Mariel Smith is an attorney with Hall Booth Smith. “I have found that a criminal background check that utilizes the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) or even a state equivalent, is the best way to obtain an exhaustive search when conducting a background check,” Smith said.
“It is very important for employers and HR professionals to consult an employment attorney if they have any questions regarding the types of convictions and/or the age of the convictions when making a determination of whether to onboard someone.”
Follow Legal Guidelines
“There are many legal guidelines to consider when obtaining criminal background checks. One should be very careful in the manner in which they obtain this information, ensure that it is kept confidential, and disposed over properly, for example,” she advised.
‘Can Be Crucial To An Employer’
Paul Lopez is a labor and employment attorney with the Tripp Scott law firm. He observed that, “Background checks are important for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, minimizing exposure from employee liability by conducting due diligence and verifying that the employee is someone who will be a trusted and valued member of your team.”
“Because a background check can uncover criminal records, sex offender records, legal working status, drug test records and other important information, they can be crucial to an employer.”
“Employers do need to ask an applicant before running a background check, and the information that is received cannot be used to discriminate against the applicant, but it is certainly better to uncover important information before hiring an applicant,” he concluded.
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Excerpted from a Forbes article by Edward Segal