Background Checks


A recent story on the national news highlights one of the most appalling examples of what can happen when references and background checks aren’t conducted.  A 34-year-old nanny could be charged with murder for the death of a baby for whom she was hired to care.  This is another sad example of why it’s so important for all of us to use extra care when selecting someone to care for members of the more vulnerable segments of our population.  Apparently no one did a background check on or checked any references of the woman involved.  If a thorough background check had been completed, it would have been discovered that the nanny had previously been charged with assault and had two restraining orders taken out against her.  In addition, the nanny was in this country illegally.  This is the sort of tragedy that happens all too often when careful checks aren’t carried out.

Furthermore, neighbors of the nanny reported that she had assaulted her boyfriend in a bar for talking to another woman and frequently fought with her roommate in their apartment building.

This tragedy could have been avoided by taking just a few of the rudimentary precautions before making a hiring decision;  now it’s too late, and it is a lesson for all of us about just how important it is to check every candidate for employment carefully.  The risks of not doing so are just too great, regardless of whether we’re hiring a CFO or an in-home caregiver.

Frequently, I write about the importance of doing reference checks and background checks on candidates for employment.  It should be obvious to all our readers that it’s not just traditional employers who hire people who should be checking the people they anticipate hiring, but anyone who hires others to care for any vulnerable population – children being cared for at home or in day-care centers, the elderly, and those who are hospitalized or in extended care facilities.  Employers should insist on being given appropriate references and should complete a basic background check before letting anyone near any of these populations.  Failing to do so can obviously have catastrophic consequences.  The ultimate tragedy is, if background or reference checks are done, most situations like this can be avoided.