The Importance of Employee Background Checks
In a horrible and heart-wrenching case from Washington D.C., an executive, his wife, ten year old son, and housekeeper were all kidnapped, tortured, and killed inside of their home. According to the police affidavit, a former employee perpetrated the crime in order to collect a ransom before killing the family and setting their home ablaze.
Facts of the Case
Savvas Savopoulos was the CEO of American Iron Works and lived in D.C. with his wife, Amy, and their ten year old son, Phillip. Their housekeeper was Veralicia Figueroa. The police report states that Daron Wint, 34, was a former employee of American Iron Works who worked as a laborer for the company ten years ago.
At around 6:00 p.m. the day before the murder, Mr. Wint and unidentified others entered the home and tied up the family. He held them for nineteen hours, torturing Mr. Savopoulos until he agreed to call his assistant and demand $40,000. The assistant was told to meet two other employees and extract $40,000 from a bank account at the Bank of America. Once the cash transfer was complete, Mr. Wint stabbed the bludgeoned the adults to death before starting the house on fire and leaving the child to burn to death inside.
Mr. Wint was identified as a suspect after two pizzas were delivered to the home on the night of the kidnapping and some of his DNA was found on the remaining food. Mr. Wint was arrested after his girlfriend saw his photo circulating on the media and called the police. He was arrested along with five other men and had $10,000 in cash with him at the time of the arrest. Between 2005 and today, Mr. Wint has had no less than 39 prior brushes with the law.
California Background Checks
This case highlights the need for employers to run background checks on their applicants before hiring them for a position. However, state and federal laws do provide applicants with some protections during the process, and California’s rules regarding employee background checks are some of the most stringent.
In California, an employer may not ask an applicant to disclose any arrest that did not lead to a conviction or participation in a pre-trial or post-trial diversion program. In addition, employers cannot use records associated with those incidents or ask about any crimes that have been sealed or expunged. However, employers are allowed to ask about any prior convictions in or out of state as well as about any arrests for which the applicant is currently awaiting trial.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has also issued guidelines about when and how an employer can screen out an applicant based upon a prior criminal history. According to the EEOC, an employer is allowed to screen an applicant if their criminal record poses an unreasonable risk to the business or other employees. In deciding whether a crime qualifies, the EEOC recommends looking at the nature and gravity of the offense, how much time has passed since the offense, and the nature of the job applied for.
Our Employment Attorneys Can Help
The tragic loss of the Savopoulos is part of a terrifying case that explains the importance of running background checks on your employees. The experienced employment law attorneys at Garcia & Gurney, A Law Corporation have been advising businesses in Pleasanton, Alameda County, and the Tri-Valley area about employment concerns and can help you, too. Call the office or contact us today for a confidential review of your case.