Do you really need pre-employment screenings? – A cautionary tale.

Recently, the sleepy suburb of Surprise, AZ was shocked by the gruesome murder of two elderly women. The particularly shocking aspect of the murder was not the simple depravity of the act, but the fact that the two victims of the murder seemed so random. What could have possibly put two elderly women who were simply chatting in their living room in a quiet suburban neighborhood in harms way? In a tragic and unfortunate turn, the suspected murderers were later identified by police as employees of a gardening company that had been contracted to perform maintenance in the community.

This blog post does not intend to minimize the tragedy of the murders, nor does it seek to capitalize from such a gruesome act. Rather, this blog post serves to point out an extreme cautionary tale about the need for pre-employment background screenings. From the news article linked above:

Gothic says both employees were subject to standard pre-employment procedures, drug screenings and E-Verify, “which exceeds legal and industry practices.”

The company’s statement does not indicate whether the suspects were subjected to rigorous criminal background screenings prior to employment, the employer simply states that “standard pre-employment procedures” were followed. Is “standard” enough? Wouldn’t it be worth it to spend a few hundred dollars to rigorously pore over the criminal history of your  applicant to avoid, in an extreme scenario, harm to another person, or, in a more common scenario, liability for your company?

Without knowing whether the suspected murderers had any indicia of violence in their past, or whether the company did in fact delve into their potential criminal histories, it is impossible to say whether a background check could have reduced the likelihood of this tragedy occurring. But, it is fair to say that in most cases doing your due diligence in regard to screening new employees seems to be a prudent and ultimately liability-reducing measure a business can take.

If you think your pre-employment screenings could use improving, call Inter-State today.

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