BACKGROUND CHECKS: A MUST HAVE FOR INSTITUTIONS
April 15, 2014
Summary: Background checks can highlight any derogatory information in an applicant’s criminal or financial records, or can serve to validate the information they provide on their applications. There are also supplements to background checks that prove beneficial to an institution: from the traditional reference checking to the modern review of an applicant’s social media sites. Paying money to conduct background checks may seem to be an inconvenience to some organizations, but it’s certainly cheaper than settlement payments if an abuse is consummated due to not running a check.
In the realm of institutional abuse, the moral compass, character, and qualifications of individual employees are often called into question; this is certainly true of abuse cases. In many of our blogs, we have blasted several types of institutions for failure to protect their children. Most cases involve schools, but there are many other institutions are at fault; churches, sports organizations, and youth organizations are also examples of institutions that have a responsibility to protect children. In most of the cases we have analyzed and blogged about, a recurring trend is that the institutions fail to exhaust all means to protect children. In many cases, the institution failed to conduct background checks. Even in the cases where background checks were initiated by the institution, they seemingly fell short of supplementing the check with their own research.
Accordingly, this blog is to help educate institutions and parents alike, so that we can help to reduce or eliminate institutional abuses. Here are some benefits to conducting background checks:
1.) It reviews criminal records: By checking an applicant’s criminal records, it’s highly likely that major criminal incidents will turn up on a check. Even relatively minor issues will usually show up. In turn, this gives institutions the ability to use adverse information from the background check to disqualify a job candidate at the very beginning.
2.) It can prove or disprove information in the application: Background checks can mostly serve to verify information that an applicant provides on their application. In certain cases, it can highlight any inconsistencies between the two, which might reveal a potential employee with something to hide. Additionally, it can check credit scores or financial records of applicants.
3.) They are a supplement to reference checking: Reference checking is very important, and should not be replaced. This is the part of the hiring process that places the employer on the phone, having actual conversation with an applicant’s references. However, it can be more than just a phone call. The federal government for example, makes their visits in person whenever possible when conducting background investigations for security clearances.
4.) Social media checks can supplement background checks: Just as social media itself has boomed in the past several years, so has an employer’s ability to review it. In 2008, only about 22% of employers reviewed social media sites of potential employees. Microsoft research concluded in 2011 that nearly 80% of employers reviewed social media, and that 70% admitting to rejecting an applicant based on derogatory content on their site. An undeniable fact of life today is that our online lives can influence our lives offline. Today, there are background check companies that specialize in reviewing social media content for an employer.
These are just a few of the benefits that background checks can provide all parties involved; while not all-encompassing, those listed are major factors that determine an applicant’s character, moral compass, and qualifications. An institution is taking their chances if they choose to omit background checks from their hiring process. In the event that an abuse is consummated, the effects on an institution can be staggering. It’s guaranteed that the institution will be embarrassed from the negative attention it will bring to their organization. It’s also highly likely that the organization can stand to pay out significant compensation in such cases. Failure to conduct a background check has resulted in negligent hiring suits; but it gets worse. Research indicates that employers lose these types of cases 75% of the time, and an average settlement of $1 million dollars. That’s not even the worst of it. If the abuse is sexual in nature, this figure can grow exponentially. More important than the money or the reputation is that failure to do background checks opens the door for an individual in an institution to ruin a child’s life – a family’s life – forever.
I know that it’s easier to say this than to do this, but when it comes to hiring employees, do not skimp on the cost. A background check is an additional cost, but isn’t it worth it to avoid the alternative?