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Monday, September 9, 2013

Stranger danger

When someone knocks at the door, most people are very guarded as to how they answer. Either cracking the door or speaking through a storm door, we don’t let random strangers into our homes. However, because we pay a company for a service we allow strangers into our homes. We are so guarded as to our Internet privacy, yet we allow complete strangers to be alone in our homes. Once the worker arrives, are you the type of customer that follows them around, or do you leave them alone to do their work? Many people don’t feel comfortable looking over the shoulder of the worker, but maybe you should.

Take into account a few stories from the headlines.
  •  2011-Anne Arundel County Police raided a Pasadena home and charged the owner of a cleaning service with theft. Police recovered thousands of dollars worth of jewelry that had been allegedly stolen from clients
  • 2011-Milford, CT home contractor sexually assaulted client
  • 2012-Maryland housecleaner was caught stealing jewelry from clients
  •  2012-Hamptons, NY dog walker caught stealing jewelry from clients
  • 2012-Missouri landscaper stole $200,000 worth of jewelry from clients
  • 2013-NJ satellite installer sexually assaulted a client’s child
  • 2013-NH home care provider kidnapped and sexually assaulted male client

TODAY National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen reported that no law requires background checks for service workers. Yet, we allow them, alone, into our homes without questioning the company’s policies. After a service worker murdered her daughter, Lucia Bone began a company fighting for tougher restrictions. The full article can be viewed at our Information and resources page.

Employers have to walk a fine line when hiring and protecting their company from lawsuit, either for an improper hiring process or later injury to a client. EEOC guidelines protects against discrimination in the hiring process. One of those protections specifically addresses criminal background records and the records use in the hiring process. The applicant should be judged on their resume not their past criminal history. Unless an employer can show a reason why the applicant’s specific conviction, not their record in total, would disqualify them from the job the employer is discouraged from using the applicant’s record against them. 

This is not a bad thing. National Institute of Justice studies revealed that one-third of all Americans have been arrested by age 23. With those kinds of numbers employers are bound to encounter applicants with criminal histories. To assist in the rehabilitation process some companies hire applicants recently released from prison and there are benefits from doing so. Many former prisoners are highly skilled or are freshly trained for specific jobs. Giving them a start helps them build their resume for life after prison. A company should be forthright to its customers regarding their hiring policies and screening process for the employees that will be coming to customers homes.

Background checks for certain professions are needed. Specifically, when the employee privately interacts with the customer or is alone in the customer’s home. EEOC guidelines do allow for the employer to screen candidates. As long as the job specifications as clearly stated, the applicant is afforded ample time to explain, and the reasons for denial are well documented. Companies can bolster customer confidence by providing them with certification that employees have been checked.

Hiring the wrong person puts a great liability on a company.  Either from internal issues/violence or if that employee causes harm to a customer. There are no crystal balls that predict how or when an employee will go bad. There are numerous incidents of people with no criminal past being tempted while on the job to commit some sort of crime. Some carry a motive for the crime they only await the opportunity. Following EEOC guidelines on the use of criminal records allows the employer to make informed decisions on hiring and candidate placement. By conducting background checks and putting the right person in the right position, companies are doing their due diligence to protect the client against a criminal act.