Too many business owners are not screening their employees properly, if at all. Even those who have in place a screening protocol may not realize some of those procedures are not up to date, in light of changes in federal and state laws.

At Trace Investigations, we have, in essence, two divisions. Our private investigation services include litigation support for both civil law attorneys and those in the criminal defense arena, in addition to many other routine investigation services for attorneys, businesses and the public at large. Of equal importance to our business model is our employment background investigations. We have a team of experienced legal investigators and research analysts dedicated to providing state of the art background screening services. We pride ourselves on keeping our clients up to date on how they interact with potential job applicants in regards to pre-employment screening.

Recently, we were contacted by a company that had to fire one of their employees after it was discovered he had stolen merchandise from their warehouse, a discovery made quite by accident. In conversation with the company’s president, we discovered two failures in their security protocols: they did not have enough CCTV cameras in their warehouse and on their parking lots, which allowed the employee to exit through a side door on a number of occasions with merchandise, avoiding coverage by any of the cameras. The losses were discovered through a tip from another employee who by chance spotted some of the items on an eBay auction site. However, more importantly, the company had failed to properly screen the thief. Their screening service had not reported the employee’s prior criminal convictions for theft and receiving stolen property, simply because the company had in place unnecessary limits on what they were requesting from their vendor. The convictions were more than seven years old and many companies will request only a seven-year search on their job applicants, not realizing that the federal law that limited the reporting of older criminal convictions was lifted in 1998. Other oversights by businesses include:

  • Many states, including Indiana, now have expungment laws that restrict reporting of past criminal histories, yet a careless review of an online record will miss a file entry indicating an expungment or dismissal.
  • Companies must provide their screening vendor with certification they have notified applicants a background screening is being conducted, and what that investigation could entail.
  • Companies that hire employees for out-of-state facilities or who will reside out-of-state (such as sales reps) must provide notice to applicants of disclosures required under their state’s employment laws, where applicable.
  • Many employers are unfamiliar with pre-adverse and adverse action letters to potential job applicants that are required if a job opportunity is to be denied because of a criminal history reported by a screening vendor.

The list goes on. When a business contacts us about screening their job applicants, as part of our consultation we will automatically advise them to consult with an employment law attorney or other qualified professional. Although nothing in this article should be considered legal advice, we routinely consult with our own employment law counsel, so we can provide our current and potential clients with the latest in the requirements for establishing and maintaining a successful pre-employment screening program.

When you need assistance establishing a background screening program, contact the professionals at Trace Investigations at 800-310-8857.