The Human Resources Profession Just Got Riskier

If it wasn’t already tough enough being a human resource professional, the stakes may be going way up. In a recent article in The Herald-Dispatch, a company is suing its former HR Director for “breach of his fiduciary duty as an employee” by failing to run a background check on an employee who is now accused of embezzling more than $2 million.

As it turns out, this employee had a past federal conviction for embezzlement while working for a previous employer. While this company may ultimately be unsuccessful in its suit against the former HR Director, this poor guy has to sacrifice the time and money in defending himself and possibly the damage to his professional reputation.

So what can be learned from this?

Well, the first, and most obvious, thing is that that you need to be running background checks on job candidates – regardless of your industry or the positions as all companies with employees carry some risk.

Secondly, background checks need to be appropriate for the position you are hiring. In this case, the employee was hired as a Controller which would certainly require additional and specific scrutiny that may not be necessary for a general entry-level position without access to company finances or the opportunity to create any major fiscal catastrophe.

And lastly, work with a trusted and knowledgeable background screening provider who can guide and assist you in developing and maintaining a proper and cost-effective employment screening program. If your background screening company is just going through the motions and NOT making recommendations to deal with situations such as these, time to find a new provider.

In keeping with this example, Clarifacts would have undoubtedly recommended, among other things, that a federal criminal record search also be included in the background check for a Controller position.

Why? Because federal courts (which are completely separate from state and local courts) have jurisdiction over federal law and prosecute only federal offenses. There are more than 100 categories of offenses that are considered to be federal crimes and include many high level financial crimes such as fraud, counterfeiting and embezzlement, which would not have otherwise been found by just searching at the county court level. Given that fact, conducting a federal criminal record search would have not only been appropriate, it would have been extremely prudent.

Protect yourself…protect your company…take a closer look at your current employment background screening practices.

©2010 Clarifacts