Background check for employee hiring

Here’s a question that someone in our google group asked: “I am in the process of hiring a new tech and something popped up on his background check for the first time since I’ve been doing this.  There was a note of a local case of someone with his name as the plaintiff against Walgreens Pharmacy as the defendant.  From the public record, it looks like the plaintiff was awarded $383.  He has a somewhat unique name.

This is certainly not as bad as a criminal charge on his record, but I felt obliged to ask him what the context of this was.  Over several emails, he denied that this person is even him.“

Everyone should run background checks on their hires. This requires having them sign a consent form as well as giving them access to the report to dispute information that they believe is not correct.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act does mandate that if the applicant requests you provide a copy of the report used for free. I requested the report on myself and they provided it to me last year when I was getting credentialed at another hospital.
The FCRA also stipulates that if you deny employment based on the check you need to notify the applicant for the reason. There’s a good reason- after all these records aren’t perfect- I had a collections account mistakenly put in my credit report myself.

The Supreme Court case Green v Missouri Pacific railroad stated that for hiring criminal background checks employers must consider:

-nature of crime

-relation to potential job

-time since offense

The reasons for these considerations is they upheld that automatically excluding someone over any criminal conviction could be discrimination on race. Even police officers can have arrest records, it depends on what they were for and how long ago. Anything involving dishonesty or violence is typically a disqualifier though due to the nature of their job.

Since most of our positions are dealing with handling cash, protected sensitive and health information, and assisting in treatment of patients one can argue that most criminal convictions (theft, fraud, assault and battery etc) would exclude a candidate. This may not be true for a assembly line position in a factory for instance.

This is a good article that summarizes how to be careful with background checks.

And the EEOC has issued guidelines in this link.

In the instance described above, if you are curious you can contact the court which tried the case and actually get copies of the papers/ pleadings by both parties. You can see for yourself if the case is relevant to the job description. If the pharmacy flagrantly failed to fill prescriptions or overcharged them and they filed the suit to recover monies- you might want to hire this person for phoning insurance companies about delayed payments!  LOL.

In some jurisdictions the cases are taped, so you could obtain a copy and see if it was the same person that showed up for the interview.

If someone was really involved in a case but denies it, that could be grounds for not hiring, for providing false information related to application. Even if the case was unrelated to the nature of the job.

You can do a check informally by contacting references in addition to using a company. I almost hired a candidate- until my court search in another jurisdiction where they lived (uncommon name) showed a shoplifting claim which had actually been expunged; one of the references (that I found on my own, not one the candidate listed) told me that the same candidate left the practice because they were accused of taking money for a fundraiser, but the reference really didn’t believe the candidate did it. I also have a friend who googled the candidate and some digging found a out of state injunction against the candidate working in a healthcare setting due to narcotics prescription fraud. Unbelievable!!!

I’ve also had candidates tell me they left on good terms and I could even ask the office manager. I sure did- only to hear they would never be hired again. I’ve had candidates lie about dates worked- always verify dates, and always phone references that they don’t list.

Here are some other good articles about background checks:

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