Temp agencies have proven the safety of the public at large is not worth their expense. Over and over again, temp agencies are hiring workers with criminal histories who are using their employment to repeat past criminal behaviors.

The impact of a bad or dangerous hire can certainly have a negative effect on a business, but all too often it is the public that is paying the price for the repeated failure to properly screen temp agency employees.

·  Case #1: In Quincy, Massachusetts, Raymond Reese, a garbage collector working on a city contract through a temp agency, fit the description given by a victim of indecent exposure. It was then discovered he was a registered sex offender who had not had his background checked. 

·  Case #2: Despite admitting to three prior convictions when applying for employment with a big national temp agency, including a felony charge of stealing more than $60,000 of property, a woman was placed by the temp firm to fill an administrative services assistant role at the Tennessee State Museum. Investigators said after eventually becoming a permanent employee, she used a scheme to falsify 26 invoices and submit them for payment to her personal account. These payments totaled $49,476.97. Investigators also discovered the employee used a rental car for 15 months after her car had broken down and billed an additional $12,415.97 to the museum. The museum now requires their own background checks.

·  Case #3: So-called “Butt Grabber” John Epps Jr. had a criminal history of repeatedly groping women, and had previously told detectives that he suffered from “an impulse that he can’t control.” Still, he was hired through a temp agency and placed in a Maryland public school setting where he allegedly victimized two students; one of whom who was just 12-years-old.

·  Case #4: Despite a drug addiction, healthcare worker David Kwiatkowski repeatedly found work in hospitals in eight states through staffing agencies, potentially exposing thousands of patients to Hepatitis C as he shared their needles. Authorities say he was fired three times and suspended once for suspicion of stealing drugs, yet was still able to continue working at hospitals across the country.

In case #1, a basic criminal background check would have prevented this offense.

In case #2, the temp agency simply needed to use the information it had to make a better decision.

Case #3 gets more complicated because the worker had avoided the sex offender registry by pleading guilty to second-degree assault in a previous case. Perhaps a more detailed look into his criminal history was needed to prevent this repeat offense.

In case #4, the healthcare worker had been suspected of theft and drug use and had been fired previously. While there were no criminal convictions, it would have only taken a few phone calls to previous employers to uncover his issues.

Of course, this is not always how staffing agencies handle the hiring process. A staffing firm’s reputation depends on the quality of workers it sends out. However, these examples do offer a warning, as there are inherent conflicts of interest when responsibilities are outsourced to third party, for-profit agencies.

Thorough background checks take time and cost money. We get that. But in our opinion, temp agencies don’t always make the right decision when faced with the choice between proper screening, and cutting corners in the hiring process to fill an open position.

Tags: Staffing agencies, Background Checks, Hiring, Ban the Box, Employment screening, Criminal history, Temp agencies