Background Checks, LIARs and Guns on the Job

As the debate over gun control rages, some observers believe letting employees carry guns to work is the answer.

Any employer considering guns at work should have a good background check policy in place first.

Background checks and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

In the aftermath of several high-profile workplace shootings, some observers think the answer is arming employees, or allowing workers to bring guns to the job or allowing them to purchase AR-15 magazines and let them bring that to office.

Not every employer will accept an armory at the office is the answer. However, before any business even considers allowing guns in the workplace, first they had better have a policy of full and extensive background checks on all employees in place.

Human resources need LIARs

In human resources, the best approach is LIARs—“Look Into All References.”

When one-third of all job seekers is lying on a resume or job application—including the lies of omission—the idea of not checking all references can leave the organization holding the bag when something goes terribly wrong.

Of course, background checks should be in the context of the job. Some positions—operating heavy equipment, having a key-holder responsibility, working with money, children, the disabled or elderly—require candidates with clean backgrounds.

Allowing employees to bring guns? You had better know WHO!

Background ChecksIf considering allowing employees (those with the appropriate legal permits) to protect themselves with weapons, the background check should be more than just learning about on-the-job performance. What is the likelihood they will come to work intoxicated, hangover or have a poor attendance record?

The employer has a duty to protect employees and the public. Background checks are the first line of defense. Several state courts have held up employer responsibility in cases of an employee misconduct, finding them liable when things go horribly wrong.

This makes it necessary for employers to investigate the background of prospective (and in some cases, current) employees.

Link between criminal records and the EEOC

The use of criminal history information may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if an employer either:

  • Treats job applicants with the same criminal records  differently based on race, religion, color, sex or national origin.
  • Applies “disparate impact discrimination,” where they disproportionately exclude specific job applicants or criminal histories, even in cases where the employer uses criminal record exclusions uniformly.

Background checks: not just for new employees

It is clear that background checks prior to employment are crucial.  However, it is just as useful for regular re-evaluation for employees in sensitive positions. When an employer learns of the possibility that an employee might pose a danger, they should be proactive, up to and including termination.

In addition, background checks help businesses that involve independent contractors, vendors and others, to identify contract workers with the potential to cause severe damage. Do not forget about volunteers with access to your assets and customers.

Background checks need not be difficult

Today, it does not require a dedicated staff to perform in-house background checks.  Several companies now provide these services affordably and on an as-needed basis.

Ovation Technologies is a perfect example. Ovation allows users to request specialized background checks on either new hires or existing employees. Criminal background checks include National Criminal, Sex Offender, Homeland Security and authentication of the social security number. DMV checks are also optional.

Even if your company has no interest in allowing employees to carry a weapon to use for self-protection, every company can benefit from careful background checks and references. They help your business weed out potentially dangerous employees, as well as demonstrating a caution in hiring practices, thereby avoiding legal liability.

Personal Background Checks

Published by @philammann

Put. That coffee. Down. Writer/editor/whatever it takes. @margaretj13 is my (much) better half. Website: Email: Twitter: @PhilAmmann

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