“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today”. Abraham Lincoln
In our litigious society and, given current federal and state labor laws, it seems unthinkable that some employers in our day and age would cut corners when screening possible candidates to work in their companies or, worse still, forgo background checks altogether. But is happens, more often than we think and with grave consequences for the employer, their clients, and the public at large.
A background check is a process a company uses to verify that a person is who they claim to be, and provides an opportunity to check a person’s criminal record, education, employment history, and other activities that happened in the past in order to confirm their validity. An employment background check typically takes place when someone applies for a job but can also happen at any time the employer deems necessary and, in some industries, ongoing routine background checks are a must.
Performing a background check is your opportunity as the employer to verify the information provided by your job candidate. It can also reveal information that was either mistakenly or intentionally omitted – such as residency in other states where a criminal record might be located. Background checks also help confirm dates of work attendance as well as degrees or certifications earned and can provide specific information about prior employment. Though the practice is more common in certain industries than others, an estimated 86% of employers nationwide run background checks on new employees before hiring them officially.
Generally, an employer that fails to investigate the background of an applicant whom they hire for a risk-sensitive position may be liable for negligent hiring or retention if the employee is later involved in serious misconduct or illegal activities. Punitive damages for those cases can run into millions of dollars. Consequently, the time and money you might “save” by not doing background checks are only a drop in the bucket compared to what you might be required to spend to defend yourself against a negligent hiring lawsuit.
Point in case: if you decide not to run a background check on a person and hire them for a truck driver position, imagine one evening, that driver gets into an accident while on the job and causes a massive car pileup on the highway. The police at the scene arrest your worker for driving under the influence, and it turns out that person already has two DUIs on his or her record. And now, because you didn’t do your due diligence by running a background check to make sure this person was a fit candidate for the truck driver’s position, you and your company could be held liable for the accident.
Many employers put a lot of stock in maintaining a drug-free workplace, and rightly so. Running background checks can help flag applicants who have been slapped with drug charges in the recent past, whether for distribution or possession. You can also supplement the pre-employment background check with a drug test, eliminating current users from your applicant pool. All in all, it’s the best way to establish a zero-tolerance anti-drug policy at work from the very beginning.
The bottom line: knowing your applicants’ history will go a long way in predicting their future behavior, and a thorough employee background check and drug testing program will assist you in making an informed choice and protecting your company’s assets.
Laborchex offers a full array of the pre-employment screening and drug testing. To learn more, call 1-800-880-0366 or visit us at our website www.laborchex.com
Contributed by Ricky Rayborn of Laborchex