Most organizations understand the importance of pre-employment background checks, but not all are aware of the essential role post-hire screening has in safeguarding their company and mitigating risk. A consistent post-hire screening program helps to prevent scandals that could lead to serious and detrimental consequences, such as reputational damage, financial loss and harm to employees or the public at large. While we recently covered the essentials of rescreening, and the types of checks organizations should consider as part of an employee screening program, this article focuses on a series of high-profile news stories covering incidents that could have been prevented with a robust approach - highlighting the rescreening imperative.
The dangers of abusing authority and power
The first cautionary tale comes from the recent case of police officer, David Carrick, who pled guilty to dozens of rapes and sexual offenses during his employment with the Metropolitan Police department. Despite stricter vetting procedures coming into force in 2006 for new hires, there remained a glaring gap and need for retrospective employee checks that the NPCC states could have "slipped through the net '' before these measures were implemented. The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) has ordered all police forces to review their current staff in the same way that they would screen new recruits - a clear nod to the need for a robust employee rescreening program. In addition to these new measures, The College of Policing will also be asked to review and strengthen their current vetting procedures. In addition, Home Secretary Suella Braverman has launched a review of the police disciplinary system to ensure that officers who do not meet the high standards expected of them can be dismissed.
It’s difficult to believe that despite nine separate incidents in which Carrick, a serving officer, was reported, the Metropolitan Police failed to take action. The allegations against him suggest that he abused his position of power as a police officer to coerce and intimidate his victims, much like Wayne Couzens, another Met officer, who raped and murdered Sarah Everard in March, 2021. Further calling into question the accountability for the employer, in July 2021, Carrick was arrested for rape but no further action was taken by the department after the woman withdrew her complaint. This failure to act becomes even more troubling considering that it was just four months prior, when Wayne Couzens was arrested, that promises were made by the department for quick response to any future incidents by it’s employees. There are now reports that the Met is investigating up to 800 additional officers based on sexual and domestic abuse claims with more shocking cases expected to surface.
The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA): Adapting to the modern world
In a recent tribunal, a significant and important development has broken down the barriers between the professional and personal worlds within the financial services industry. Adapting to modern working conditions, the Financial Conduct Authority has begun to acknowledge just how important an employee's actions can be outside of their place of work as well as in their job role. The Upper Tribunal upheld a ban on financial advisor Jon Frensham following his conviction for the attempted sexual grooming of a teenage girl. This is the first time a court has considered an FCA decision to prohibit an individual for an offense not involving dishonesty that was committed outside the office. This decision is expected to have a significant impact on future cases and serves as a reminder that companies may need to look beyond professional competency - and further into the personal lives of employees particularly if their behavior could have a detrimental impact on the company. This is where employee rescreening can play an important role in identifying negative activity and sentiment that could put your organization in a vulnerable position - and allowing you to take action before the situation escalates.
In other news, a rogue employee at the Financial services compensation scheme, solicited loans from an ill pensioner in one of the largest breaches of the organization’s protocols. ‘Ramou Colley’ manipulated the situation in order to extract over £10,000 from the elderly man. After learning he had received £20,000 in compensation, Colley attempted to befriend the elderly man, asking on multiple occasions for ‘loans’. Despite having repaid £3,000 - Colley never met the elderly gentleman. Following the scandal, the FSCS released Colley, stating that her actions “fell short of the high standards it expects from its people”. Aligning with the theme of rescreening, the FSCA is now reviewing its internal procedures and training to ensure they remain “appropriate" and “robust”.
Another example with major consequences that may well have been avoided if rescreening was in place comes from Wells Fargo bank. In what has become one of the biggest banking scandals in history, it was revealed that employees had created millions of fake bank accounts in order to meet sales targets. The actions of this group of rogue individuals manifested into a toxic work culture, undermining the company's core values and principles and costing the bank gravely. For Wells Fargo, this extensive breach resulted in over $1.7 billion in fines, a congressional inquiry and serious reputational and profitability damage.
Virtual actions can have real world consequences
An employee’s online presence can also be a source of scandal for organizations. Social media screening provides an assessment of an employee’s online behavior and persona and can uncover potentially undesirable behavior to help the organization mitigate risk. This may take the form of a racist or derogatory comment or a threat of violence. As reported by the Daily Mail, a scandal involving KFC employees licking cooked chicken was caught on camera and spread rapidly on social media, to the detriment of the organization. Incidents like these are all too familiar, as these examples demonstrate:
- An account executive at an ad agency posted an instagram photo showing the logo of a recently acquired client. The problem was, her organization had not made the deal public yet, which put the AE in violation of her contract and resulted in her termination from the company.
- A day-care employee was fired after posting on facebook that she actually hated “being around a lot of kids”.
- A contractor working for Chrysler was mistakenly tweeting from the official Chrysler account rather than his own, when he posted an obscene tweet. The tweet cost him his job.
The examples detailed in this article represent only a handful of the kinds of issues faced by companies with their employees every day. Pre-hire background checks alone do not protect your organization from employee actions that could introduce risk. Companies need to be vigilant in identifying misconduct and negative behaviour, whether related to professional competency or personal behavior, and prioritize timely and thorough employee checks to protect all stakeholders.
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