Life Happens…Things Change

Protus3Background Investigation, Compliance

John hired Cindy as a part-time receptionist for Acme, Inc. several years ago while she was still attending college. Acme has a policy that requires a pre-employment background investigation for candidates prior to extending an offer of employment. As part of the procedure, managers ask candidates to complete an application in addition to providing their resume. On the application, the candidate is asked to sign a statement attesting to the truthfulness of the information and a notification that the information will be used to conduct a pre-employment background investigation. At the time she was first hired, Cindy was just out of high school, and her background investigation supported the information that was on her resume and application.

Cindy is well liked by the employees at Acme, and John has been pleased with the quality of her work. Cindy finished her college studies and was awarded a degree in accounting last month. When the CFO approached John about offering Cindy a position in the accounting department, it seemed like a good fit.

However, John knows that Acme’s security policy dictates that employees being promoted or given a change in status must also have an updated background investigation. This policy is based on the company’s philosophy that company needs and requirements change, as do people and their circumstances. The post-employment background forms ask for information relative to the employee’s addresses, any additional work history, and updated education status. They include a request for a signature confirming the information’s veracity and its eligibility for use in a post-employment background investigation.

Since Cindy is being considered for a financial position requiring a degree in accounting, the policy is written to include verification of education and a credit check. Cindy’s credit check revealed some otherwise unknown information about consumer debts that she had incurred since she was first employed by Acme, as well as a history of late and/or missing payments that implied fiscal irresponsibility. In addition, criminal background checks revealed that Cindy had been charged with driving while intoxicated and was convicted of having an open container two years earlier.

In light of this new information, how should John proceed? What actions regarding the promotion or retention of Cindy are in the best interest of the company? How can John know if Cindy will be reliable in a position that requires her to handle monetary assets?

John was initially very disappointed in the findings and the potential loss of a talented employee. However, his years of experience told him that background investigation findings should be regarded as a tool for locating the right person for a position and the organization, and not as a comprehensive determining factor. Before making a final decision, John sat down with Cindy and asked her questions specific to the findings. His goal was to separate what he knew and could verify from what he thought he knew.

Based on the details that Cindy provided, John was able to substantiate that Cindy was not driving a vehicle on the evening of her arrest. On “parent’s weekend” at college, she was charged with having an open container as she walked from one apartment complex to another carrying a glass of wine. She was required to perform community service, and she could document her completion of that requirement. In regards to the credit report findings, Cindy explained that when she started college she was unprepared for the barrage of credit card applications she received and did not understand the long-term implications of consumer debt. She was able to outline the steps that she was taking to improve her credit rating and pay off the debts.

John communicated his findings to the CFO, and after evaluating the facts, the job requirements, and Cindy’s history with the company, they both felt that Cindy would be the best fit for the position and offered her the job.

Not all similar situations come to this type of resolution, however. Human beings make human choices, and while some choices may be in the best interest of employees and their employers, some may not. Employee costs are the largest expense for most companies. Can you afford to make the wrong decision?

Plan. Protect. Prosper.

Protus3 specializes in security system design, security consulting, corporate investigations and other investigative services. Partner with Protus3 and we will examine each situation to identify threats and develop solutions for your best outcome.

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