Whips, Chains, Handcuffs and Background Checks in California: A Comedy of Errors
September 6, 2013
What do you get when you buy $320,000 worth of televisions, a hot tubs and gazebos and electronics, pornographic videos, handcuffs, chains and whips? Some might call that a great night. But when the $320,000 used to buy these items was embezzled by an employee from her employer, in this case, the state of California, the answer is that she gets another job with the state.
Such is the case of Carey Renee Moore, a California civil service worker who was, in fact convicted on felony embezzlement charges and served time in prison for her transgressions. When she was released from prison, naturally she applied for another civil service job with the state. I know what you’re thinking, there’s no way she’s getting that job.
Well guess what? You’re wrong. Why, you might ask?
The state of California didn’t bother to perform an employment background check, at least not a criminal background check. Instead they simply consulted her employee file which by law didn’t include the conviction information because she resigned her position before she was convicted.
Rather than harp on a silly thing like “why didn’t you hire a background screening company?”, let’s focus on how a state ban the box law bit them in the old derriere.
In 2010, the state removed the following two questions from their job applications:
- Have you ever been convicted by any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?
- Have you ever been convicted by any court of a felony?”
So now, we’re 0 for 2. The state didn’t conduct the background check and they didn’t ask about past convictions. And with no adverse information uncovered in their “trusty employment screening program”, they proceeded to hire her.
After she was hired, someone brought Ms. Moore’s past to the state’s attention. The state then fired her for falsifying her application. Only one problem: she didn’t falsify her application. They never asked. And now, she’s suing the state for wrongful termination. Who think’s 0 for 3 is within striking distance?
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the state might want to take a careful look at both their background screening practices and whether ban-the-box legislation is really in their best interest.
Want to learn more about employment background checks in the state of California? Click here for an employers’ guide to state considerations.