Hiring A Celebrity? Don't Forget the Background Check


Okay, so Michael Vick, former quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons sends you his resume to become your next Latex Salesman (I finally get to use a Seinfeld reference). Let’s say you have been living under a rock for the last few years and you don’t know who he is. You decide to conduct a background check. What will you find? That all depends on where you look. Up until last week, the only charges filed against Vick related to his involvement in a dog fighting ring were in Federal Court. He has pleaded guilty, so let’s say for the sake of argument that the Federal Court has appropriately updated their system. In order to find this conviction, you would have had to conduct a Federal District Criminal Search. A County Court Record Search would not identify this particular conviction. Now, separate charges have since been filed in Surrey County, VA. A conviction has not occurred so while you might be able to find the charges by performing a County Criminal Record Search in Surry County, you would just see a pending case. In most states you can use a pending case in the hiring decision. In some states, you cannot (another topic for another post).

Now, how would you know to check Surrey County if you didn’t know Mr. Vick? If he lived in and established some type of credit while living there, an Address History Search (commonly referred to a Social Security Number Trace) would have revealed this address. If he didn’t reside or establish credit in this county, you might not know to check that particular county. To further illustrate the Address History Search, I take one of my all-time favorite baseball players, Kenny Lofton, now of the Cleveland Indians (okay, maybe not a celebrity, but close). What if Kenny applied for a job with your company? Since being traded to the Cleveland Indians from the Houston Astros for journeyman catcher Ed Taubensee (see one of the worst trades of all time), Lofton has played for approximately 11 teams. If he established credit in each of the cities he played in, best practices suggest that you would conduct a criminal record search in each of those counties (I don’t think you’d find anything; a rare occurrence among athletes).

Let’s take another example. You get a resume from Mr. Orenthal James Simpson. Your address history search reveals that Mr. Simpson has lived in Los Angeles County and also goes by the name “OJ” (you would want check the county under the names “OJ” and “Orenthal James” Simpson). Guess what? If you did a criminal record search, you wouldn’t find anything. Mr. Simpson was never found guilty of murdering his wife. Furthermore, even if he was convicted, the trial and conviction would have taken place more than 7 years ago. Assuming he was convicted and miraculously out of jail, the state of California doesn’t allow employers to consider criminal records older than 7 years. Now, if you conducted a Civil Litigation Search on Mr. Simpson you would see that he was found liable in a wrongful death suit brought by the family of his deceased wife. And of course, that record could be considered in the hiring decision. We can talk about his Las Vegas escapades some other time.

So far we’ve only discussed celebrity athletes. Let’s concentrate on a well-known Hollywood diva. A Ms. Lindsey Lohan is applying for a sales job and you decide to conduct a Motor Vehicle Record check. Hopefully, the number of DUI’s and driving on suspending licenses would dissuade you from giving her a company car. Just a suggestion, you might also consider a Substance Abuse Test.

How about Mr. Donald Trump? He has just submitted his resume to become a bean counter for your company. Some of you may know that he has filed for bankruptcy on at least a couple of occasions. So, you might choose to conduct a Credit Check. This will help you find that public filing, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, Mr. Trump has found a way to file for these bankruptcies corporately while protecting his personal assets. However, if he did file for personal bankruptcy you would have found the record.

One more example. Mr. George O’Leary current football coach at Central Florida University was once the Head Coach at Notre Dame University for a couple days. He was unceremoniously terminated after the school found out that he lied about having a Master’s Degree. Whoops! If they only would have performed an Education Verification, they would have avoided a very public embarrassment. If Mr. O’Leary was applying to become the Head Coach of your company, what do you think Notre Dame would say about his tenure there if you called for an Employment Verification?

For a more in-depth explanation of the bolded background check services, check out http://www.EmployeeScreen.com/preservices.asp.

Nick Fishman is the Chief Marketing Officer for Cleveland-based EmployeeScreen IQ, a best practices provider of pre-employment screening services throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Nick can be reached at (800) 235-3954 ext. 441 or nfishman@employeescreen.com nfishman@employeescreen.com.