Establishing a background screening policy for employees and volunteers is a no-brainer for any youth-oriented organization. If you don’t already have one, we urge you to read this three-part series that explains why you need to set one up, pronto:

Volunteer Screening – A Necessary, Important Investment

Volunteer Screening – How Safe is Your Child’s Caretaker

Volunteer Screening – Resources to Help Keep Your Kids Safe

One of the most important aspects of the screening process that you’ll mull over is how it will impact your hiring and retention decisions. This is extremely important for youth-oriented organizations to critically examine because of the vulnerability of our children, your responsibility to protect them, and your potential and/or perceived culpability if this process fails, as it did in this case.

Some questions you might need to consider:

  • Will you hire someone with a criminal conviction?
  • What are the ramifications, if any, if a current employee is arrested?
  • Should you have a employment attorney on retainer for helping you navigate these decisions?

Youth sports programs, youth ministries, school districts, non-profit agencies and any other groups who may be responsible for children are all examples of employers who should audit their background screening and hiring policies.

The Lee County School District (FL) recently disclosed that it is undergoing this process after an assistant football coach at one of the district’s high schools was accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. Turns out, he was a convicted felon who had been arrested 22 times since 1994. The man, who is in the process of being terminated by the district, lied on his job application, reports the News-Press.

Here’s some of the inaccuracies the newspaper pointed out:

  • He answered “no” when asked if he had ever been found guilty of a criminal offense. He was convicted of a driving misdemeanor in 1995 and 1996.
  • He answered “no” to pleading “no contest” to a criminal proceeding despite the fact that he pleaded no contest to multiple charges throughout the years, such as giving a false name to police in 2000.
  • He denied having ever been placed on probation. He has been placed on probation multiple times since 1993.

With so many new organizations paying attention to the need for establishing screening policies, and others more closely scrutinizing their existing policies, there are three key things every organization who works closely with kids should consider when forming or updating their background check policy.

How will you handle an employee who is arrested while employed by your agency?

There are many aspects of this situation that need to be sussed out and once decisions have been made on your policies, they need to be put in writing. Do not deviate from these procedures and determinations once they are established. For example, if someone is arrested while employed by you, will it be automatic cause for termination regardless of the severity of the crime? Or will crimes carry different weight in your organization just as they do in the court of law? Finally, if an employee is dismissed or resigns because of criminal charges, will they be allowed to be re-hired at a later date? However you answer these questions, you MUST make sure you’re always in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). As with any legal questions like this, consult an attorney.

What will the standard be to dismiss applicants?

If your goal is to weed out ill-fitting candidates during the application process, then you’ll want to clearly define which criminal offenses would disqualify someone from candidacy. In most cases of organizations working with or near children, erring of the side of utmost caution is your smartest move. Again, keep that employment lawyer on retainer to make sure you’re dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s.

How will you maintain communication with your screening agency and verify results if a red flag is turned up?

This is crucial step that should never be ignored. Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliance laws and standards mandate how you must treat and respond to candidates in situations like this. Before you tell the candidate you’re not hiring them based on information collected in the background check (in itself, called Adverse Action), you must give the applicant:

  • A pre-adverse action notice that includes a copy of the background check you used to make your determination
  • A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” Your screening agency should supply you with this.

Once this pre-adverse action notice is completed, the candidate can review the information and explain or ask for a correction of any negative information. If this doesn’t happen within a reasonable amount of time, you can move forward with your Adverse Action notification:

  • You must tell the applicant in person, in writing, or electronically that he was rejected because of information in the report
  • Include the name, address and phone number of the screening agency
  • Inform the applicant that the screening agency didn’t make the hiring decision and doesn’t know why you weren’t hired
  • Ensure the applicant knows that she can dispute the information in the report, ask for a correction and request a free report from the same agency within 60 days.

Protect Youth Sports has developed an industry-leading re-verification process that works to verify the accuracy of the information by thoroughly reviewing every positive record “hit” returned from the national criminal & sex offender database. These records are put through a comprehensive quality assurance and re-verification process. All records are then thoroughly investigated at the county courthouse.

This impeccable standard operating procedure is provided to each of our clients and the return on your investment is proven in our best-in-class final reporting service which includes:

  •                 Case numbers
  •                 File Dates
  •                 Complete description of charges
  •                 Sentencing information
  •                 Disposition and dates
  •                 For cases with multiple charges we will fully explain each charge

Our re-verification process saves you time and money, without sacrificing excellent service. Be wary of any background check service offering you instant results, unless there is a thorough re-verification process on the positive records. Protect Youth Sports does this for you at no additional cost, no additional court fees and gives you a guarantee of accurate results the first time.

We understand this can be a lot to take in. That’s why our team of screening experts is always here to answer your questions. Shoot us a comment or give us a ring at 1-800-319-5587 today.