A recent Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics’ publication on Workplace Violence reported more than 572,000 nonfatal violent crimes – rape, robbery or assault – occurred while people were at work or on duty in 2009. That same year, 521 homicides in the workplace were also reported and work associates (current and former co-workers, customers, and clients) accounted for 21 percent of them.
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) has estimated that organizations lose an estimated 5 to 7 percent of their annual revenues to fraud. In 2010, the ACFE reported Internal Asset Misappropriation was the most common form of fraud, e.g., employee larceny, skimming and various other fraudulent disbursements.
One publication reported as many as 30 percent of individuals would steal if the opportunity arose and 20 percent of employees have knowledge of dishonesty inside their own companies. A survey of college students reported 95 percent said they would tell at least one lie to get a job and 41 percent already had.
Taking steps to avoid unnecessary losses and to maintain safe work environments is important. Companies should consider implementing fraud prevention/detection efforts, conducting periodic employee anti-fraud and ethics training, establishing a well published hotline and conducting pre-employment background investigations/screenings as well as periodic employee background reinvestigations. They should also consider having investigations conducted into any wrongdoing.
Some business owners rely solely on inexpensive Internet background checks to determine the honesty of applicants. Some use other employee applicant screening methods, which may include background checks to confirm education, employment, addresses and/or licenses; drug screenings; criminal history checks; driving record checks; credit checks; paper-and-pen honesty tests; and/or psychological evaluations; etc. It is important that entities considering the use of background screenings/checks understand and comply with applicable laws and regulations.
It’s worth noting some criminal history checks only search for “convictions” of “felony” offenses. Factually, prosecutors often downgrade charged offenses to lesson the load of the heavily burdened judicial system.
For example, in June, the Metropolitan Crime Commission Inc. of New Orleans released a report that analyzed the results of 8,232 felony arrests in New Orleans in 2009. They reported 25 percent of the charges were reduced to misdemeanors. In short, just because an individual pleads guilty to a lesser offense does not mean they did not commit a more serious offense. Entities strive hard to meet their customers’ needs, care for employees and earn a profit. Having insurance is important. But steps should be taken to prevent losses from occurring in the first place. When investigations are warranted, they should be conducted promptly and thoroughly.