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Continued From Backgrounds

The problem arises when the company can not show due diligence in hiring or contracting when a suite is brought for sexual harassment, wrongful termination, vehicle driver negligence or any other number of problems that can come with owning a business.

In 2004 the Chicago Tribune published an article entitled “Holes Found in Cheap Background Checks” during which they investigated low cost backgrounds. What they found was a lack of completeness, for lack of a better term, in the criminal backgrounds of employees. But previous employers do not always report criminal activity. An employee may be terminated without prosecution or the background company may only use online or out dated data base programs to research the individual resulting in no records found.

The most comprehensive criminal background that can be done is one where the investigator/researcher hand searches the court records for criminal activity and contacts the previous employers to determine the reasons for the person’s termination of employment. For this the employer should have a consent form for the prospective new employee to sign giving permission for previous employers to release employee records and evaluations with the provision that the form can be copied for multiple inquiries.

Along with pre-employment backgrounds there are backgrounds for bringing in independent contractors to consider. Business owners need to know whom they are bringing into their work place environment because the liability could fall ultimately to the business and not to the contractor. Background them and write the independent contractor agreement carefully.

There are currently many background companies that can be found online, INTELIUS is one of them. On line they provide Background, Phone Verification, Property Information, Email Lookup, Identity Protect and an all important Date Check in this day and age of internet dating services.

Which brings up a good point;

Before using a background company, ask them to provide you with an example of a completed background report according to their advertised specifications and ask if they do hand searching of criminal records as well as make contact with previous employers and/or contracts.

To read the entire Chicago Tribune article go to Holes in Backgrounds.

To read a more concise guide for employers, try The Employer’s Legal Handbook.
And for those of you who would like a more current, June 2005 issue, The 7th. Edition of The Employers Legal Handbook is available here as an Adobe .pdf download

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