Background Checks: How you Can Save your Company

On July 25, 2015, Tamal Ali Chammout, a 56-year-old driver with Uber Technologies Inc. was accused of sexually assaulting a passenger after dropping her off at her home in Dallas, United States.

Interestingly, court records not only showed that Tamal Ali Chammout is an ex-convict with several other criminal allegations, but it was also discovered that he used a fake permit which not only belonged to someone else but had expired since 2010.

How did Uber miss all of these? They failed to conduct background checks.

Could they have prevented this from happening? Certainly.

How? By simply conducting proper background checks.

Why You Should Conduct Background Checks

To avoid bad publicity, reputational risks, and brand erosion:

You have spent time, effort and money building up your brand.
Bad publicity can cause your company to lose that unique identity that sets it apart from other companies in the marketplace.

To retain your customers’ loyalty and trust:

Customer goodwill is usually the reward of several years of hard work, several management retreats, endless brainstorming, and various marketing campaigns and advertisements.
You don’t want to lose the product of all that hard work and investment just because of one mistake. As they say, “trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair”.

To avoid lawsuits:

Legally, an employer can be held liable for the negligence or wrongful acts performed by its employees within the course of their duties, even without the knowledge or prior approval of the employer.
This is known as the principle of vicarious liability.

To perform your duty of care:

As an employer, you owe a duty of care to your employees, customers, as well as the public.
Background checks allow you as an employer to determine if a potential employee poses a threat to your other employees, customers or the public at large.

To increase the chances of hiring high potential employees:

In conducting background checks, the focus should also be on positive patterns and not just negative.
It affords you as an employer the opportunity to identify high potential employees by reviewing their personal and professional history e.g. educational background, previous employer checks/references, other achievements, etc.

To avoid employee turnover:

Consider the cost of replacing a wrong hire; management, administrative and legal costs, plus the indirect cost of stolen/damaged goods, equipment, employer reputation, etc.
According to a survey conducted by Right Management Consultants, the replacement cost of a bad hire is 1 to 5 times the salary of the job in question.

The Dos for Conducting Employee Background Checks

Be broad and thorough:

Do not limit yourself to one specific item e.g. criminal records. Get information like educational background, previous employer, medical and even social media history, etc.

Follow the law:

Applicants have privacy rights and despite the fact that they may be desperate for jobs, they are still protected by the law.
Take due care to conduct legitimate background checks. You should consult your legal adviser for advice.

Follow a standardised process:

Ensure that the process is the same for all applicants, especially for the same job role, as different job roles may require different processes.

Watch out for patterns:

Don’t look for only the negatives. Evaluating both positive and negative patterns are the best way to evaluate your employees.

Hire a professional agency:

Don’t do a limited search yourself. A professional agency or consulting company with experience in conducting background checks will do a greater job of finding the information you want with accurate processes and procedures.

Where to go from here

Tamal Ali Chammout will pay for his crimes subject to the court’s findings and ruling, but the pertinent question in this context is; what consequence(s) will this have on Uber’s business?

This is just ONE employee that slipped through “standard procedure”, but if there were others, then multiply the effects already highlighted above and the consequences could be endless.

Unfortunately for Uber, public perception is that the company is loose with the conduct of background checks as more employees have been found with criminal records after this incident and more and more cases have been filed against the company.

Before you condemn Uber’s lapses and mistakes, evaluate your own hiring process.

Are there leaks in your background checks process?

Are you sure of the people occupying critical roles within your organisation?

You can schedule a consultation with us today.

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