August 22nd, 2014 | Sterling

Checking In Or ‘Checking Out’?

Checking In Or 'Checking Out'? | SterlingBackcheck

Hotel owners take note – your employees might be doing more than just checking out your guests. Front desk clerks, bell hops, and housekeeping have access to the rooms and personal belongings of your customers. Before you hand over the master key, conduct a background check for a better idea of who you’re hiring.

A flagship hotel in Texas was sued for negligent hiring after a recently hired bellman sexually abused a 15 year old guest. The bellman had a lengthy rap sheet with convictions for drug possession, theft, assault, sexual misconduct, and two counts of indecency with a child. The hotel did not conduct a background check on the bellman prior to hiring him, claiming that it was an industry standard to only screen “upper level” employees.

Failing to screen entry-level positions can be a dangerous and costly mistake. In many cases, entry-level workers have the most interaction with your customers and in the hospitality industry, they also have access to guest rooms.

As reported by 12 News on AZ Central, a level-three sex offender gained employment as a night-shift clerk at two hotel chains in Maricopa County, AZ. He was never subjected to background checks despite the fact that he was considered at a high-risk to re-offend. He allegedly sexually assaulted two women in 2011 and 2012.

Every organization, regardless of size or industry, should have a documented screening policy that is reviewed at regular intervals and assessed to identify potential gaps. A background screening policy is recommended for a number of reasons, the most obvious being the prevention of hiring dangerous or unsuitable individuals. But a good screening policy also ensures adequate screening for all levels of employment and protection against employment discrimination claims.

Your background screening policy should identify when and how a background check is carried out. Will you screen applicants prior to extending an offer of employment or will you provide a conditional offer? Your policy should also define what types of background checks are required based on the position. For example, you may want to conduct a criminal record check on all employees, but only conduct a credit check on employees who will be handling cash or working in upper level management positions. If a position requires specific certifications, such as corporate accountants and lawyers, you will want to verify their credentials as well.

Once your screening policy has been implemented and you are confident that it will protect your organization from negligent hiring claims, don’t just “set it and forget it.” Develop a process for regular review and analysis at pre-determined intervals to look for potential gaps and evaluate new screening tools that may provide faster turnaround times, higher accuracy, or more detailed results. Additionally, you should consult your legal counsel to determine if there are any municipal, state, or federal background checking laws that apply to your organization.

A gap-free screening policy takes time and knowledge, but it is one of the most effective risk mitigation measures you can take to protect your company.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.