Pre-Employment Background Checks May Expose a History of Violence

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) requires employers to provide a workplace that’s free of identifiable hazards capable of causing physical or psychological harm. This means that employers are obligated under the law to avoid hiring employees with an identifiable history of violence and to take appropriate action to ensure they are hiring people who do not have a history of violent behavior.

History of Violence

Of course knowing that hiring people with a history of violence is a risk for any business is one thing. Determining that history of violence can be a little bit tricky.

Laws also exist to protect job applicants with an arrest on their records. There are many reasons for this. Not the least of which is the fact that an arrest is not the same thing as a conviction. Then there’s the added problem that it’s hard to rehabilitate some offenders if they are never given a second chance to become gainfully employed.

Employers Should be Concerned if a History of Violence is Exposed in an Employment Background Check

So, how do employers walk the tightrope between protecting their business interests, customers, and employees from potentially violent offenders or dangerous employees, and protecting their businesses from lawsuits and the potential legal, reputation, and financial fallout that is possible if a criminal report is used improperly?

The best way, by far, is to conduct a thorough criminal and background investigation on all candidates they are considering for employment. Not only are background investigations excellent tools for verifying references and education and work histories, but criminal background checks are also great for identifying a history of violent crimes as well.

That isn’t to say that every candidate with violence in his or her history is a bad candidate or even likely to bring violence into the workplace today. Avoid focusing on one single act or even acts that took place decades ago and look at the whole history of the candidate instead. This is what using a quality firm to handle the employment screening for all potential employees helps businesses to do – look at the big picture and assess the risks.

Using a reputable service to conduct criminal background checks on all candidates in consideration for employment can help businesses avoid a great deal of aggravation as well as the risks associated with hiring potentially violent employees who have had a history of violence.

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5 Stark Realities of Freelancing Jobs

Freelancing JobsIt’s a safe bet that just about everyone, at one time or another has dreamed about being their own boss. Most people envision working from home in sweats and tees, setting their own hours, choosing their own assignments, blissfully free of long commutes and traffic jams, irritating co-workers, unreasonable bosses, and tiny cubicles. And it’s true that freelancing jobs can offer all of those perks, and then some. With constantly evolving technologies and mobile devices, millions of workers every year, often fed up with trying to find a job, turn to freelancing as an ever more viable alternative, and employers are welcoming them with open arms. Most employers will still require pre-employment background checks which may include criminal background checks. Freelancing can be a very rewarding career option, but it requires a considerable change of lifestyle, and should be carefully considered before one takes the leap.

Here are five hard realities of freelancing jobs:

  1. Freelancing is a whole new ballgame. It requires a completely different approach to work. Transitioning from a 9 to 5 job to being self-employed can be quite a culture shock. It’s possible to develop the self-discipline necessary to meet deadlines and complete assignments without supervision, but many will find it difficult at first. On the other hand, for some it just comes naturally. And unlike having a regular salary or hourly paycheck, if the freelancer isn’t working, they aren’t earning.
  2. Freelancers work more hours. Unless they hire extra help, freelancers have to do everything themselves, administrative chores, bookkeeping and billing, marketing and acquiring new clients. And none of this pays anything for the time spent on it. In general, a freelancer will work more than 40 hours a week. But their hours are arguably more pleasant, spent for the benefit of one’s own advancement.
  3. Freelancing jobs are a lonely profession. Social isolation is an occupational hazard of most freelancing jobs. Pets, plants, and talk radio are poor replacements for interaction with real human beings. There are many ways to counter the lonely hours spent working, but it takes an effort, which can be a lot of fun.
  4. Freelancing jobs has ups and downs. As in, availability of work. Sometimes the workload will seem overwhelming, other times the phone just isn’t ringing. Good money management skills are a must to weather lean times.
  5. Freelancers have real jobs. Many people have a hard time wrapping their heads around freelancing jobs. If a person isn’t commuting to a brick and mortar structure, they can’t have a real job now, can they? It’s an attitude that freelancers just get used to, and one that will change as freelancing jobs becomes more common.

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Criminal Background Checks Could Curtail Employee Theft in the Workplace

Employee Theft in the WorkplaceA 2014 study by the University of Cincinnati reported 64% of the 314 small businesses surveyed had experienced employee theft. While the study only took a small sampling of businesses into account, the percentages line up with nationwide numbers on employee theft. The financial impact to employers when employees commit larceny or embezzlement is massive. In fact, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety states that employee theft in the workplace accounts for approximately 80 percent of business losses related to crime.

Employee Theft in Colorado Leaves Customers Concerned

Employee theft also creates a sense of insecurity for customers. In October 2014, an employee of HuHot Mongolian Grill in Sheridan, Colo. was arrested for allegedly stealing the credit card information of multiple customers. Another employee of the restaurant saw Michael Alexander Stephens, 31 years old, in possession of a credit card reading device. Stephens had a prior history of employee theft and had even served time in prison for burglary. A thorough background check would have revealed the previous history of crime to the employer. Colorado criminal background checks are offered statewide or by county.

Background Checks Save Employers Time, Money and Frustration

Statistics from the National Institute of Justice showed that more than 82 percent of property crime offenders committed a repeat offense. Property crimes include a number of offenses such as burglary, larceny and theft–all of which significantly cost an employer when an offense takes place in an employer’s establishment. The National Federation of Independent Business recommends that employers screen applicants by obtaining background checks, checking references and contacting previous employers. Employers that utilize background checks would be able to see the criminal history of an applicant and make an informed decision regarding the potential hire.

Disclaimer: The information on is governed by our Terms of Use and is never intended as legal advice.

Negligent Hiring Lawsuits – Negligent Hiring and Retention Laws

Although negligent hiring and retention laws aren’t new, lawsuits surrounding negligent hiring have steadily been on the rise since the 1980s. According to Liability Consultant’s Inc., employers are often prime candidates for compensating the victim. Negligent Hiring and Retention laws hold employers liable for willful misconduct committed by their employees. This not only includes actions in the scope of employment, but may include employee actions outside the place of work. Liability Consultant’s Inc. reports that the average settlements in negligent hiring cases are now over 1.5 million dollars.

Companies have been judged negligent in court in many cases.

Negligent Hiring Lawsuits

  • Deerings West Nursing Center vs Scott – The nursing home was found liable for nearly $250,000 for negligent hiring of an unlicensed nurse with prior criminal convictions. The nurse assaulted an 80-year old visitor at the nursing center.
  • Butler vs Hertz Corp. – The employer settled for a $2.5 million lawsuit when held liable for negligent hiring. Its security guard had an on-duty traffic accident killing another motorist while driving a company car.
  • Porter vs Proffitt’s Inc. – The store’s security guard injured a customer while held as a suspected shoplifter. The plaintiff was awarded $10 million dollars in damages in a suit against the store for negligent hiring.
  • Liebman vs. Hall Fin Group, Inc. – A $5 million settlement was given the family of a murdered female tenant against the apartment complex owner. The female was killed by the complex’s assistant manager’s brother.

Since negligent hiring is based on the principle that employers have an obligation to protect their clients and employees from foreseeable acts of a fellow worker, employers should perform due diligence when hiring employees. This includes a comprehensive criminal background checks. The employee should not begin working until the background information is checked and verified. If it’s not done, the company is taking a chance that they could face a negligent hiring lawsuit.

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Taxpayers Exposed To Risk Due To Lack Of IRS Background Checks

An internal federal investigation found that the IRS failed to conduct or to complete IRS background checks on at least 17 contractors who were hired to process sensitive and private taxpayer information. The failure to conduct or complete these background investigations violated IRS procedures, which require IRS background checks whenever contractors have access to what is called SBU — Sensitive But Unclassified — taxpayer information.

IRS Background ChecksThe audit of the IRS background checks procedures was conducted by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, a government watchdog that provides independent oversight of IRS activities. The purpose of the Inspector General’s investigation and report were to find out how effective the IRS had been at ensuring that the required background investigations of contractors were carried out.

The investigation showed that the IRS had failed to ensure that the policies were properly carried out in the identified cases. The Inspector General made several recommendations to the IRS, including that the IRS provide better training to staff on security requirements when dealing with contractors.

The amount of information that may have been comprised due to the IRS’ failure to adequately investigate was huge. It included a CD containing the names, addresses, and social security numbers of 1.4 million taxpayers, which was handed to contractors who had not undergone the required background checks. With that information, someone with the intent to commit identity theft or other crimes could do an enormous amount of damage. Failing to conduct IRS background checks in such a situation violates not only government procedures, but also common sense.

Identity theft is an increasing problem. According to the AP and Yahoo News, the number of criminals who tried to file tax returns using stolen social security numbers in order to claim someone else’s refund has gone up sharply in recent years. A couple of years ago, in fact, the IRS paid out $4 billion in refunds to people who were later found to have fake identities, and it discovered an additional $12 billion in attempted fraud attempts that did not succeed.

Also in recent years, there have been several high-profile incidents involving government contractors who misused the information they had been given while performing the contracted work. This underscores the need for a consistently applied policy of background checks for all workers who will be handling sensitive data.

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Workplace Violence: More Common Than People Think?

Workplace violence is a devastating but widespread problem. Criminal report checks can help prevent incidents.

When people go to work, they and their families should not have to be concerned about their safety and whether they will make it home at the end of the day. Unfortunately, violence in the workplace is a relatively commonplace occurrence that many Americans will face in their lifetimes. A variety of circumstances can trigger workplace violence, but instituting criminal report checks during the hiring process can help reduce the risk of violent crimes.

Workplace Violence: Far from Uncommon

A nationwide survey among private businesses, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), found that almost one out of every twenty non-governmental businesses experienced workplace violence at least once in the previous year. In the government sector, state government agencies had the highest rates of violence, with 32 percent reporting violence within the past year. These events can not only harm employees and any clients who are on site, but also harm employee morale, reduce productivity, and increase absenteeism and health insurance premiums.

Most Violent IndustriesWorkplace Violence and Criminal Report Checks

Some of the industries with relatively high rates are the healthcare, service, utilities, and delivery industries. These are some of the characteristics that are risk factors for workplace violence.

  • Direct contact with customers.
  • Exchanging money.
  • Location in high crime areas.
  • Working in community settings.
  • Working in a mobile setting.

Criminal Report Checks as a Strategy for Preventing Workplace Violence

Strategies for preventing workplace violence can take multiple forms.

  • Electronic surveillance
  • Security staff
  • Physical security

Fewer than 10 percent of those businesses that had workplace violence in the past year reported changing their workplace violence prevention policies in response, but adding criminal report checks to the hiring process is a strategy that can pay off. The human resources department of a larger business, or the person responsible for hiring in smaller companies, can hire a respected company to conduct criminal report checks. This process can reduce the chances of having potentially violent people within the workplace every day.

Workplace violence is unfortunately more common than people tend to believe, but it is preventable in many cases. A national criminal background check program can help keep workers and clients safer.


Disclaimer: The information on is governed by our Terms of Use and is never intended as legal advice.