Background Checks

Not every person who commits a crime is prosecuted for it!  One of the great misconceptions is that employees who commit crimes end up in the legal system.  Why?  I can give you example after example of people who are caught red-handed doing things like stealing from their employer but never spend a minute in jail.  In countless instances, the employee caught stealing is given the choice of resigning or being fired.  Now, which do you think most light-fingered employees are going to do?  Of course!  They’re going to resign and go right on the road to the next employer with no black mark on their record at all – because far too many prospective employers don’t go beyond merely verifying previous employment.  They seldom ask the important questions, such as, “Would you hire so-and-so again?”  Or, “Could so-and-so have stayed with your company if he/she had wanted to?”  The prospective employer simply confirms that the employer really did work where he/she said and lets it go at that.  Worse yet, many employers don’t prosecute employees who steal from them or who commit various crimes, not the least of which is broadly defined as workplace violence.

More importantly, doing any type of court check will produce nothing because the employer didn’t file a complaint against the employee for stealing – or whatever the crime was!  Therefore, there will be no prosecution of that employee and no record to find – anywhere!

Unfortunately, the same thing happens in a variety of much higher risk occupations – such as healthcare and public education.  I recall an instance where a teacher was caught having an inappropriate relationship with a student.  There was no doubt about what had happened.  Guess what the superintendent did?  Right!  He gave the teacher the option of quitting or being fired.  The teacher took the easy way out; there was no prosecution, therefore, no court record.  The teacher crossed the nearest state line and was hired for exactly the same type of teaching position and did the same thing again!  Except this time the parents of the student sued the school for negligent hiring and won to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars.  The sticking point, however, is that had the school done a court check they would have found nothing because there was no prosecution and whoever did the background check for the school – assuming one was done at all – didn’t ask why the teacher left or any of the other important retention questions.

So, is a court check a foolproof exercise?  Not if people who commit crimes aren’t taken to court!