When a Lawsuit Comes, It’s Coming for You (Not Your Fly-By-Night Screening Company)

If your company is one of the tens of thousands that relies on repairmen, installers, contractors, and other employees or affiliates who enter customers’ homes on your behalf, a fear of working with the wrong employment screening company should keep you up at night.

Here is why: Virtually anyone with a computer can sign up for a few database services and announce that they are in business as a "background check provider" within a few days, or even less. There isn't any training involved, just a few business cards, a website, and access to the same public databases that any of us could reach from home if we had a few minutes to spare.

Although they are usually advertised as being "national," these services typically cover 38 states or fewer. And, they are notoriously easy to beat, since these so-called "instant" background checks just compare names and Social Security numbers against broad database matches. There isn't any insight, much less oversight.

Instant Background Checks Are a Huge Liability Waiting to Happen

The natural result – which a lot of business owners and employers would like to overlook – is a system that makes it incredibly easy for convicted criminals and others with dangerous pasts to slip through and gain employment. Because the instant background check companies are often little more than marketing services, they don't check actual court records and dispositions at the federal and state level. They certainly aren't going to go through the trouble of checking local and municipal courts.

But what happens when one of these dangerous people decides they didn't turn over a new leaf the moment they put on your uniform and started working with your employees and customers? The answer, more often than not, is a violent crime and lots of regret... not to mention a sizeable lawsuit.

Will you be able to sue your instant background check company for negligence under those circumstances? Possibly, but you aren't likely to recover much.

More importantly, you can bet the victims aren't going to worry about which fly-by-night background check company you used – they’re going to be coming after your company, and the courts are going to side with them. Your business could stand to lose millions from one poor hiring decision because you won't be able to show that you adequately investigated the criminal history of someone you hired before unleashing them onto your customers and employees. Beyond the initial damages, you'll probably lose millions more due to the negative publicity that will undoubtedly follow.

Investigative Screening: Do You Want It Now or Later?

The ironic thing about this situation is that it inevitably leads the companies that have been affected to do the one thing they should have done in the first place – invest in proper investigative screening rather than flimsy instant background checks. Would you rather make a good decision now, or be forced to do it later following a multimillion-dollar lawsuit because you didn't pursue the right hiring practices?

About The Author: J. Denton (Denny) Dobbins is Nationally and Internationally recognized as the world’s leader in Premises Liability Protection and has been featured across North America sharing the stage with Political Leaders, Police Celebrities, Administrators and Business Leaders. Since 1978, Denny has been involved with the detection and deterrence of Criminal Activity in properties and employment of all types.