There are no two ways about it. Richard Eggers was terminated from his job of seven years as a mortgage company customer service representative after the company discovered on a random employment background check that he put a cardboard cutout of a dime into a wash machine in an effort to see if he would get free laundry service . . . in 1963. Since that time, he hasn’t had so much as a speeding ticket.
So before we get into who is to blame, let’s take a look at the mitigating factors here:
- Misdemeanor conviction for a stupid prank
- Crime was committed when he was in his 19 years old
- Conviction is 49 years old
- No criminal activity since the incident
- No apparent threat to his employer
When you add these things up, this would seem to be a case that the EEOC would be chomping at the bit to pursue.
HOWEVER THE EMPLOYER IS NOT TO BLAME!!!
Sure, nobody thinks this is fair. Heck, his employer, Wells Fargo probably doesn’t think it’s fair either. However, they have no choice. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has strict rules and regulations when it comes to those with criminal records. Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act prohibits any person who has been convicted of any criminal offense involving dishonesty or a breach of trust or money laundering, or has agreed to enter into a pretrial diversion or similar program in connection with a prosecution, from becoming or continuing as an institution-affiliated party, owning or controlling, … or otherwise participating in the conduct of the affairs of an insured institution without prior written consent of the FDIC.
And what are the potential penalties for hiring those with such records? There can be substantial financial penalties for institutions who hire individuals in violation of Section 19. Does $1 million a day while the violation continues get your attention? Imprisonment for up to 5 years is also on the sanctions menu.
So now you know everything. What would you do? Face $1 million fine per day and possible criminal charges (which would then make you persona-non-grata at an FDIC institution) or simply terminate the employee? This stinks all around. The FDIC is trying to protect the financial institution, the bank is trying to avoid fines and imprisonment and the poor guy just wants a job.
Perhaps, it might be time to look for some more specific pre-employment screening guidelines.