Accuracy in Employee Background Checks is Cited as Priority by NAPBS in 2013

The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) released 5 tips for conducting effective employee background checks in 2013.

The Association’s guidance is targeted to all employers that utilize employment background checks to vet employees for job opportunities. Company roles in human resources, legal compliance, risk management, finance and general management should review the full press release.

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Cruise Ship Captain Facing Manslaughter Charges, Steered Ship Off Course

The Costa Concordia, after the cruise ship ran aground and keeled over off the Isola del Giglio. January 14, 2012. Photo: AFP

The Costa Concordia, a luxury cruise ship sailing across the Mediterranean Sea, ran aground just off Italy’s western coast January 14, 2012 and tipped over, leaving 11 dead and 21 still missing as of Wednesday.

News of this incident has left the rest of the world to question how this devastating event occurred and who is to blame. At the forefront of the investigation and a media whirlwind is the stricken ship’s 52-year-old captain, Francesco Schettino. Currently under house arrest, Schettino is facing criminal charges for allegedly steering the Costa Concordia off course and then abandoning ship once the vessel struck land.

Prosecutors suspect Schettino deliberately went of course, endangering the lives of passengers and crew on board, but now are left to wonder about the cruise line’s hiring process. Costa Cruises, recognizes that Schettino may be the one at fault, stating on its website, “While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship’s master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences.”

Who does the hiring for these ships? What are the policies and procedures put in place to make sure only the best captains are hired? These questions are still pending answers as an investigation is underway, however Maritime Lawyer, Jack Hickey observes that “[you] want to screen out the risk-takers, [you] want to screen out the ‘hot-doggers,’ [you] want to screen out the people who are not willing to take responsibility.” Some background screening companies can provide industry-specific skills, knowledge and aptitude testing, which can measure requirements for certain jobs.

When the Costa Concordia was launched in 2006, Schettino was described as a favorite with the ship’s passengers, especially its women. Viewed as a debonair, yet a risk taker, its not surprising that all evidence points blame on the ship’s captain for responsibility for the accidents.

In the wake of the accident, Italian Coast Guard Captain, Gregorio De Falco said to Schettino in firm words, “Go to the bow. Climb up the emergency ladder and you co-ordinate the evacuation.” He continues, “You must tell us how many people, children, women and passengers there are and the exact number of each category.”

Schettino ignored policies dealing with emergency situations (leaving passengers being is regarded as the “first law of the sea”) and orders from Port Authority to go back to the ship to coordinate operations. As a result of the captain’s poor choices, a reported $450 Million luxury cruise ship is destroyed, a company’s reputation is tarnished and more importantly, life is lost.


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Education Background Screening and Human Resource Stories in the News Last Week

Pennsylvania takes retroactive steps to prevent convicted felons from working in school districts.

A new law signed by Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Corbett, mandates background checks on public, private and vocational school workers. School district administrators must notify all employees of the law and return a form reporting any criminal history to the Pennsylvania State Education Association completed by employees. Certain convictions will lead to employment suspensions or even termination including first-, second-, or third-degree felonies, aggravated assault, kidnapping, and other crimes. Read more

How background checks are conducted in Clark County, Nevada Schools.

The Las Vegas Sun investigates how background checks are done, after a teacher in a Clark County school was arrested on suspicion of drug possession and theft of school property. In an investigative interview, the chief human resources officer and former interim chief human resources officer of the Clark County School District answered questions on their background check procedures. Read more

Update: Background Checks Dealing with School Workers Clarified.

A new law, §1-111 Act 24 of 2011, mandates that all Pennsylvania elementary schools must background screen all new hires and existing staff for criminal history. The form that current staff must fill out asks employees to check “arrested,” “convicted,” “never been arrested,” or “never been convicted,” however the law states that only convictions of employees need to be reported. In a response to concerns surrounding this contradiction, a statement was released to clarify the law.

A publication from Fox Rothschild LLP states that “these amendments restrict those people that a school is allowed to hire, but they have almost no direct impact on the employment of those already employed. Some school administrators have mistakenly stated that these amendments require schools to fire a current employee where a prior conviction for a barred offense comes to light. While this may be true in some limited cases, it is generally not so, and neither this statute nor the companion provision in §5-527 requires termination of employment.” Read more

Convicted felon employed at middle school steals jewelry, computers

After a middle school janitor was charged in connection to jewelry and computer thefts, the School Committee Chairman of a Massachusetts school wants to know more about the school’s criminal background screening procedures. Court documents showed that the janitor pled guilty to assault and battery and breaking and entering charges in the past. Also, he was allegedly in an outpatient drug treatment program for an opiates addiction. Initial reports in the same case were for stolen MacBook Computers, iPads and other equipment. How did a criminal get employed at an elementary school? Read more

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