Skipping the Background Check: Cautionary Tales for the Veterinarian

By: Joseph Campagna

Brooks Rentrop, CEO of Backgrounds Plus, LLC has been an Ask Jan For Help Expert since the company’s inception. His expertise in criminal records and criminal background checks, state and federal background laws and guidelines, and his decades of experience working with veterinary practices make him an invaluable resource for Ask Jan Members.

The staff at a veterinary practice often comes to feel like family, and though this warm, personal environment is usually a positive attribute of our industry, it sometimes lulls practice owners into a false sense of security when it comes to their employees and hiring practices. In addition, the seemingly easy availability of background information available to the general public can be downright dangerous from a legal standpoint. Brooks has shared a few stories below that will help the veterinary industry better understand the importance of formal background checks.

A Family Friend

I once had a client who submitted the name of the adult child of a family friend who had recently moved back to the area and was looking for work. A search within the practice’s state did not reveal any criminal record on the individual. However, we also ran a search for the state that this individual had recently moved from. This revealed that the person in question had just been released from many months in jail due to drug charges, including some of the same controlled substances that were present in this clinic.

Normally this veterinary practice would not have even submitted this name for review, but they had recently begun running checks on all employees as part of a new controlled substance risk abatement process. Though an awkward conversation had to be had, this practice avoided a potentially dangerous situation of placing a potential addict in close proximity to controlled substances.

When Driving Records Reveal More Than Criminal Records   

On countless occasions I have seen checks run on individuals who will be responsible for operating a company vehicle, whether to drop off lab results or pick up samples from farms in rural areas. A criminal record check will only reveal the charges leveled against an individual in court. However, a driving record can reveal DUI charges even if they were reduced to perhaps a smaller moving violation in a court of law. This information can be invaluable in protecting yourself or your practice from a lawsuit should you hire someone with a questionable driving record to operate behind the wheel.

Online Public Background Checks are Not Acceptable in Human Resources Law

A quick internet search of someone’s name often results in ads for “Free Background Checks” or “Public Background Records”. These results can be tempting to use but can once again place you in danger of a lawsuit. For example, using information more than seven years old to make hiring decisions is not permissible in a court of law, nor is using information about charges that were brought against someone but for which they were not convicted. The resources available to the general public online are rarely considered “court verified”. I’ve seen both types of mistakes made in veterinary practices and an HR lawsuit is the last thing you want, taking time and money away from your practice’s operation. It is imperative that you only use background information that is allowed within a court of law when reviewing employees and potential hires.

Do People Really Lie?

Studies have found that 50% of people lie on their job applications. It seems a shocking percentage and yet despite the close relationships and even family relationships that span our businesses today, there are sometimes hidden secrets that can put you and your business at risk. Doing your due diligence when building out your veterinary practice team, and doing so within the framework of the law, is essential. At Backgrounds Plus, LLC, we ensure that you are protecting yourself, your practice, your team and your clients.

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