Who’s Responsible For the Background Check?

Nick Fishman

Before I start to make my point, read the first few paragraphs from a story I found in the Oneonta, NY’s Daily StarService calls should not be a threat.

Most of us have probably opened our door to a stranger – we needed the meter read, the cable fixed or the phone connection checked.

And most of us probably willingly allowed these uniformed workers in without giving it a second thought.

Unfortunately, a few of these employees aren’t as trustworthy as we may think.

Last month, a registered sex offender entered a 23-year-old woman’s house while working as a subcontractor for Time Warner Cable and allegedly sexually assaulted her.

Joseph J. Devine, 36, of Endicott, is an employee of Sure Connect in Kirkwood, not an employee of Time Warner, said David Whalen, vice president of public and government affairs at Time Warner Cable of Central New York.

Whalen said Time Warner performs background checks on all employees and requires the companies it contracts with to do the same.

However, Devine was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse in 2001 in Broome County, according to the state Department of Correctional Services records. Shouldn’t this red flag have come up in a background check and be reason enough not to allow him to obtain a job where he’s often alone with people in their homes?

Whalen said it would be “improper” for him to comment on whether Time Warner or Sure Connect knew of Devine’s conviction because he isn’t an employee of Time Warner. But in our minds, he’s close enough. He was representing Time Warner, and the company should take responsibility and admit somewhere along the line, their system of background checks failed.

I’ll leave the lecture about the importance of conducting background checks for a later time.  I think everyone has heard that lecture now (except the company that contracted the employee in this case).

Instead, I’m going to focus on the issue of the service provider “Time Warner” contracting with a subcontractor responsible for entering their customers’ homes.  Shouldn’t they demand that the subcontractor performs background checks?  Shouldn’t they know what type of background check they conduct?  Shouldn’t they have developed standards for what is considered an acceptable background check?

Yes, yes, and yes!  We recently published an article on this very topic: My Contractor Said They Performed a Background Check. Check it out.  Among the advice provided was the need for the contracting organization to ensure that background checks being performed and that they their minimum standards.  We also listed the types of workers that must be checked beyond a company’s own employees.

The following are examples of contract workers that should be screened before being cleared to work at your organization.

  • Contract (PEO for example) and 1099 Employees
  • Temporary or Temp-to-Perm Workers
  • Onsite Vendors’ Employees

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
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  • everyonehasanopinion

    Sure employees should be screened and they are! But when you have stupid privacy laws that will not allow for drug screening after employeement due to embarassment, things get a little lax. Everyone wants expensive expensive screenings, NOBODY wants to pay a couple of bucks to offset the cost! Nobody even wants to pay for the work they ask for, even if it means calling and lying about the service person that was just IN your home. Sure, it’s a tragedy that should have been avoided but, we as a society are so quick to err on the side of “politically correct” that we are willing to allow criminal records to take too long to update. What happened to rehab for these criminals? Why was he out on the street? Who’s fault is that? Yours? Mine? The phone company? or just the person with the fattest wallet?!!!!! I think it’s the person with the fattest wallet because everyone measure’s everything based on the amount of money they have, lose, or don’t have!

  • Name

    I understand not wanting a sexual offender or a violent offender in your home but anyone with a felony is subject to this and it keeps people down that have repented and done their time. Just because someone was a criminal 10 years ago does not mean they are the same person now. I think that denying people a job because they have a background is morally wrong.