Client’s Challenge: An Executive Client Asks Us to Run Some Checks on His Household Employee

HR leaders know well the importance of conducting background investigations on prospective employees. But not too many bring the same level of scrutiny to vetting employees at home, such as personal assistants, caregivers and even landscapers. This risk rises for high net worth individuals – like one of our executive clients a few years ago – whose household included several employees. “What I care most about,” he said, “is ensuring the safety of our children. I’d like to have your team do a background on a young woman we are considering hiring as a nanny. And if you can, I need this by next Thursday, her first day of work.”

Our Solution: Conducting a Background Investigation

Due to the subject’s common name, our research was limited to the jurisdictions where she had lived and worked, based on the address history we identified for her. We quickly confirmed her age, social security number and other key data. Then we began conducting research for criminal records, as well as an examination of the public record for indicators about her personal and professional history. Had she been sued or was she herself litigious? Were there any allegations about her character in the filings? Did she have a history of not paying her bills? Had she recently filed for bankruptcy or been party to any liens and judgments? Had she told the truth about previous work history and her education?

Impact on the Client: A Few Car Accidents – and Some Pole Dancing

Our examination of the public record as well as the subject’s own social media posts revealed that the woman had been in several car accidents over the past few years and had multiple traffic citations and license suspensions.

Just as concerning were the young woman’s own disclosures and self-representations. We identified adverse information she posted on Facebook that she may not have realized was even viewable to the public. One photograph was on an online website featuring photos of nude or partially nude women. Other social media posts were graphic, crude and broadly inappropriate, given the job she sought as a nanny, including one depicting her as a pole dancer. She probably didn’t get the job – at least not this one.

Unplugged: The Project Manager's Post-Engagement Perspective

“This engagement is a great example of the benefits of ‘just checking’ when it comes to employees who work in a private home. I often emphasize, though, that these kinds of background investigations should be done not just before extending a job offer but also periodically during employment. I’m constantly surprised at how much you can learn about someone in a position to compromise you, your family or your enterprise, even without looking very hard.”

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