A correctional facility in Oregon is under fire after hiring an employee with an easily accessible record of sexual misconduct. According to the hiring manager, a thorough background check was omitted in order to “avoid prejudice.”
When it comes to securing reliable staff, an employer faces a litany of challenges in correctly screening candidates. The Washington County Corrections Center learned this the hard way, and hired a candidate with a long history of sexual misconduct.
They claim this only happened because they strove to avoid prejudice by skipping a routine background screening. We at Integrated, however, know that safety and security always come first.
The Case of Andreas Correa
Oregon Live recently published an exposé that lays out the incident in vivid detail: Andreas Correa was hired on a part-time basis at a minimum-security work release facility. Shortly thereafter, he was transitioned to a full-time position as a corrections specialist.
Seven months into Correa’s career at the facility, co-workers discovered that he was previously employed as a licensed massage therapist. Their anonymous search also revealed something else – that his license was revoked in November 2013 due to claims of sexual misconduct brought forward by at least five clients.
What’s even more alarming is that his employment history and disciplinary record (shown on oregon.gov) is freely available on the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists online database. While Correa’s actions weren’t deemed criminal, the board labeled him a danger to the public.
Moreover, Correa was explicitly named in a previous article from Oregon Live that featured a number of rogue massage therapists. This almost unbelievable scenario reveals an astounding lack of foresight and prudence on behalf of the hiring manager.
A Significant Risk
The corrections department head, Steve Berger, stated that his department doesn’t perform basic internet searches on personnel, as they could reveal sensitive personal information — such as religious affiliations or lifestyle choices — that isn’t pertinent to the hiring process.
What Mr. Berger failed to understand is that a more thorough background check, facilitated by a neutral party, would have unveiled vital information concerning Mr. Correa and his questionable past. In this case, that supposedly irrelevant information was absolutely critical to the safety of the facility’s population.
Aside from the dangers Correa posed directly, the facility wasted a significant amount of capital on his employment and training. The lesson here: whether a business is hiring prison guards or sales clerks, it’s always wise to err on the side of caution.
More Than Money on the Line
The combined cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new staff is not an insubstantial investment. Depending on the profession, it can run anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars per employee.
More than that, if a business doesn’t ensure that employees have reliable and accurate certification, they can find themselves exposed to serious lawsuits and, subsequently, hefty legal fees. Add it all up and you find that one foul incident can permanently tarnish a company’s reputation and credibility.
Protect Your Investment
When it comes to screening staff, it’s best to do so in as neutral and objective a manner as possible. That way, a business can isolate the information that may indicate a risk to staff, customers, and their reputation.
A reliable, third-party screening agency will search specifically for unsavory and criminal elements of a potential hire. And because of their distance from the applicant, any potential for personal bias is eliminated. This isn’t subjecting an applicant to prejudice, as Mr. Berger may claim — it’s covering all your bases.
Integrated Security Services’ team of specialized and dedicated professionals conducts thorough and timely investigations and background checks. Their goal is to provide the maximum amount of information available about a prospective staff member, as well as pinpoint any and all areas for concern.
A business can’t gamble on their own safety, credibility, and financial stability by hiring unsavory candidates. But they can afford to play it safe, and that means always putting safety first.