Stephen Robertson was a network administrator for Cinemark in Dallas, Texas. While there, a case was filed against him in Dallas County for illegally accessing and damaging the computer system of a former employer, Corgan Associates. He was given 5 years probation and Cinemark apparently never became aware of this case. When terminated from Cinemark, he illegally accessed Cinemark’s computer systems and deleted files, including a 60 GB PeopleSoft database and stopped several network services. He got 41 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. According to LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/thelawsonguru), he is currently a contract computer programmer working on Lawson systems. Take away lessons: Always check with previous employers for references and check the backgrounds of contractors (even those not handled by HR).
NathanielBrown, an Ohio State University custodian, shot and killed his supervisor, shot and wounded another boss and then killed himself with a single bullet to his head in March 2010. He lied on his application, failing to admit that he had spent five years in prison for receiving stolen property. The background check performed on Brown failed to identify the record. According to press reports, Ohio State’s policy would have prevented Brown’s hiring as a custodian (a position with almost unrestricted access to the entire campus) had his prior stolen property conviction been discovered.
Jeffrey Hafling was hired by Adler Services, a subcontractor of the department store Burdines (now owned by Macy’s), while he was still on parole for various violent sex offenses. No background check was conducted. In February 2001, Burdines sent Hafling and his supervisor, James Perrigo (who had a conviction for breaking and entering), to Sue Weaver’s home to clean her air ducts. Six months later, Hefling returned to her residence where he raped, murdered, and, in an attempt to conceal his crimes, burned her house down. Sue’s sister, Lucia Bone, has taken her grief at the needless loss of her sister and used Sue’s story to bring attention to the importance of background checks on home service workers through the Sue Weaver CAUSE (http://sueweavercause.org/).
The Drivers Privacy Protection Act is a federal law with state analogues that governs how individual’s identity information from drivers licenses and motor vehicle registrations is accessed and used. In the employment background screening context, accessing this information is permissible.
The Gramm Leach Bliley (GLB) Act governs how personal information from traditional and non-traditional financial transactions is used. This information, as well as DPPA-covered information, is routinely used in identifying the names and addresses associated with an SSN for background screening research purposes.
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act governs the use of “consumer reports,” which includes any background check purchased from a screening firm for employment purposes. Even a brief overview of the FCRA’s requirements for screening firms and employers would exceed the time allotted for this presentation. (See my other presentations on SlideShare for additional information about the Fair Credit Reporting Act.) However, an ethical screening firm will strictly comply with the FCRA and assist in helping their clients understand the Act’s requirements.
This is the Rosetta Stone. A good screening firm will, in accordance with the FCRA, ensure that all information delivered to the employer comes from the best available source.
In the case of criminal records, the best available sources are the records of the criminal courts where each case originated. In some cases, the records are still maintained in large “Moses tablet” books while many other jurisdictions have some or all of their records on computers.
The FCRA gives consumers (applicants and employees) the opportunity to dispute the information reported directly with the background screening firm. Although they have 30 days to complete a reinvestigation of the disputed information, ethical screening firms move rapidly to resolve such problems, often clarifying and correcting information the same business day.
Ethical Considerations in Background Investigations
Ethical Considerationsin Background Investigations<br />Presented to the Texas Association of Licensed Investigators on August 20, 2011 byMike Coffey, SPHRcoffey@imperativeinfo.com<br />Imperative Information Grouphttp://www.imperativeinfo.com877-473-2287<br />