Polsinelli at Work |  Labor & Employment Blog

Employers, whether large or small, face an ever-growing web of workplace regulations and potential entanglements with employees. With employment litigation and advocacy experience as our strength, preventing legal problems from arising is our goal. Our Labor & Employment attorneys advise management on complex employee relations and workplace issues. 20 offices; 800+ attorneys. 

PolsinelliAtWork.com was recently recognized as one of the top employment blogs in the nation by Feedspot.

Employers: Consider  Pre-Employment Background Checks

By: Sean R. Gallagher

Recently, a hospital was sued for negligent hiring after one of its surgical technicians exchanged a vial of saline solution for a vial of painkiller before a surgery was set to commence.  The surgical technician was caught and promptly fired, and turned over to law enforcement authorities.  However, a subsequent investigation revealed that the surgical technician had a history of drug diversion at his former jobs that had gone undiscovered, despite the fact that the hospital hired a background check company to perform a pre-hire check.  What can companies do to minimize the risk of hiring unqualified workers?  Below, we outline the reasons employers should consider adopting a pre-employment background check process.

There are a number of reasons for employers to develop an effective pre-employment background screening process.  The most basic reason is that it is just good business; reduced employee turnover from hiring the right person will likely save the employer money and time.  In the United States, the median length of time U.S. workers stayed with their employer was estimated to be 4.2 years, down from 4.7 years in 2014 and 4.3 years in 2015.  Robust hiring practices can help reverse this trend.

The indirect costs to employers of replacing employees, such as 1) the loss of institutional knowledge that comes with a revolving work force; 2) increased training and ramp-up time; and 3) the damage caused to valuable customer relationships because of employee inexperience  can be even higher.  Higher quality candidates – procured through a robust screening process – can result in the delivery of higher quality products and service. 

Moreover, the failure to implement an effective system for pre-employment screening can lead to legal exposure.  What can employers do to minimize these costs and risks?  Key elements of a robust pre-employment background screening system often include:

  • Verifying a candidate’s stated previous employment;

  • Verifying a candidate’s stated education and credentials;

  • Checking whether a candidate was arrested or convicted for a felony or misdemeanor;

  • Verifying a candidate’s stated military records, if appropriate;

  • Reviewing available credit reports.

Also, consider whether to review a candidate’s social media profile.

Employers with questions regarding implementing or conducting background screenings of potential new-hires would do well to consult with competent counsel.