Mercy and Truth in the Workplace

Safe Hiring and Safe Retention in Faith-Based Organizations

“All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to such as keep his covenant and His testimonies.”. Psalm 25:10

When one thinks of the many thousands of non-profit and or faith-based organizations in our country, at first glance, one could be tempted to think they are immune to the consequences of workplace legal problems related to negligent hiring or negligent retention. Think again. Just ask the Boy Scouts of America or the Catholic Church as well as numerous other Christian mainline Protestant and non-denominational faith organizations: negligent screening, negligent ongoing retention policies and faulty accountability structures have produced horrific consequences. In a world where original sin continues to be alive and active, so are its consequences, and faith-based organizations are not exempt from this reality.

For the faith-based organization in particular, this reality can pose a hard question: how do faith-based organizations and their leaders balance their desire to live the Gospel truths of charity, of being non-judgmental, of being inclusive and merciful and at the same time protect their assets, the most important being the young and the vulnerable they seek to serve in Christ?

Answer: truth and mercy, inseparable goods in the eyes of the Lord, must be practiced with faithful diligence. Through diligent screening of potential hires and volunteers, an employer protects the truth and in turn shows mercy on the weak and vulnerable they serve. Or as the Psalmist sings, “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to such as keep his covenant and His testimonies” Psalm 25:10. And in Proverbs we are assured, By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” Proverbs 16:6.

Since its conception, Laborchex Inc. has been a positive force in the effort to help companies, non-profits and faith-based organizations avoid the pitfalls of negligent hiring, negligent retentions, and their consequences, by providing background checks before and during employment. That said, here are some related key concepts and maxims to keep in mind when discussing safe hiring and safe retention in faith -based organizations:

  • When a job brings an employee into contact with the public in a special relationship, the employer has a duty to conduct an investigation into the employee’s work experience, background, character, and qualifications. 
  • From childcare volunteers and janitors to administrators and pastors, unlawful and reprehensible committed acts by any of these people can cause terrible harm to faith-based organizations and significantly diminish its community standing.
  • Faith-based organizations may also be liable if they retain employees who commit wrongs against other people if they know, or should know, that the employee does those things.  Each faith-based organization has a duty to protect people from harm from recurring behavior of an employee. 
  • Citizen volunteers make up the backbone of many faith-driven organizations and their service programs. If you are to check the background of anyone, it should be volunteers and daycare workers. They are often responsible for the most precious item in our church: our children. These persons should have clear criminal records and valid driving records, since there will be times when they might drive church or personal vehicles with children aboard.
  • Salaried employees: these include teachers, secretaries, accounts receivable/payable workers, etc. In addition to knowing intimate personal details about members of the congregation (such as addresses and social security/checking account numbers), these workers are often entrusted with the handling of church funds including credit cards, investment accounts, and more. In addition to checking criminal records and driving records, when appropriate, previous employment and education should be verified. Employment credit reports should be obtained for applicants who will handle money or funds.
  • From janitors and kitchen workers to bus drivers and maintenance personnel, this category of workers requires careful screening. In addition to working with church property, these workers also have direct contact with children, and even know when a parishioner’s car is unattended. Criminal records and driving records should be checked, and a drug screening would be a good idea as well.

Laborchex Inc. provides employment screening and drug testing services nationwide to a varying range of industries, from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations.  Laborchex Inc. covers all 50 states including Canada, PR, Guam & US Territories. International criminal searches available upon request. Our extensive experiences and expertise help our clients develop both employment background screening and drug testing programs that meets or exceeds the best practices for their industry. New clients never pay any set-up fees and there are no minimum order requirements.

To learn more, call 1-800-880-0366 or visit us at our website