A few weeks ago, a court in Dallas awarded $7 Billion in Damages against Charter Communications, Inc., which operates Spectrum, a cable television media company.  This award went to the family of a Spectrum customer, who sadly was robbed, stabbed and murdered by an installer of Spectrum.

Although this case involved much more than whether a background check was performed on the employee, it is a sad reminder that companies can be found liable for actions of their employees, even if they are not working, i.e., “on-the-clock,” at the time of a crime.

In this case, the convicted murderer went back to the house of a Spectrum customer he had performed a service call on previously.  He did this on his off hours.  However, it was because of his employment as a cable/broadband technician that he was introduced to this woman, which allowed him to commit this heinous crime.

Charter Communications is appealing the court’s $7 Billion Damages Award.  It also claims that it performed a pre-employment background check, which uncovered no criminal history.

It should be noted that not all background checks are equal.  There is no single criminal database that exists that covers all criminal records for the entire United States.  That is why you want to ensure that your company performs best-practices background checks.  This means also performing county criminal records searches for all counties and all names, based upon a name and address history obtained through a Social Search or Social Trace product.

When needing a best-practices background check report, be sure to utilize a reliable background screening company that is also a consumer reporting agency (CRA).  They will help you understand the intricacies of uncovering criminal records (such as confirming identity, i.e., exact legal name and date of birth), and they will also help your company comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and its onerous disclosure and authorization requirements.

Posted by: Rudy Troisi, L.P.I., President and CEO, Reliable Background Screening

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