Virginia City with Sketchy Hiring History Vows Improved Background Check Policies

By Michael Klazema on 1/31/2014

Richmond, Virginia may be a state capital city, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more immune to unsavory hiring decisions than any other employment entity in the country. Last week, a female employee with Richmond’s Department of Utilities – resigned from her position in city government when it came out that she was being accused of corruption by the United States Attorney’s Office. The indictment came in regards to her former post at the Georgia Department of Defense, where she allegedly accepted bribes and kickbacks to help certain companies land government contracts.

This incident comes just seven months after the former Richmond Finance Director resigned from his government post under similar circumstances. His background check was clean and essentially approved him for the job, but a local news reporter did some digging and found a piece of information the background screening process had missed, like the fact that he had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. His controversial departure was headline news, but it also wasn’t the first time Richmond had hired an employee only to have them depart shortly thereafter when some new piece of information was discovered about their background. In fact, Richmond has become infamous in the background screening industry for these types of sketchy and questionable hires.

After this latest resignation, however, the city has decided to finally delve into the root of the problem: the scope of the background checks themselves. Numerous city council members and management employees have expressed concern about Richmond’s growing reputation for employee turnover and controversy. Right now, the city requires all employees to undergo a basic criminal background check, as well as three reference checks.

However, when speaking to a local CBS affiliate about the woman's departure, councilman Jon Baliles raised the question of whether or not the city might want to start looking beyond simple criminal investigations to form a better portrait of potential employees. For instance, while the latest employee had no criminal record, she did have a few skeletons in her closet – most notably a mandate from the Department of Administrative Services that banned her from doing business in Georgia for an 18-month period. That information didn’t come up in the current pre-employment criminal background check, but might have been uncovered by an Internet search or even by a past employment verification check, such as the one offered through By looking deeper into an applicant’s resume, the city of Richmond might be able to learn a bit more about where they’ve been and what they might do in the future.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • March 20 Employers who use E-Verify must follow the proper steps and procedures when they receive a “tentative non-confirmation notice” from either the Social Security Administration or Department of Homeland Security. Failure to follow the proper procedures can cost employers both time and money. 
  • March 20

    Four Department of Commerce employees are out after their background checks resulted in security clearance denials. All four had worked high-ranking positions for months despite incomplete background checks.

  • March 15 As more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis, they contend with the emergence of new industries surrounding marijuana cultivation and production. 
  • March 14 In most cases, it is easy to determine where an issue might show up on a pre-employment background check. Citations for traffic violations or reckless driving charges will appear on a motor vehicle record check. Verdicts in a civil court case will show on a civil court background check. And criminal convictions—from petty theft to violent felonies—show up on criminal background checks.
  • March 13 How many years back do employment background checks go? This question can have multiple different answers depending on the situation.
  • March 13 A new bill in Florida would require landlords of apartment complexes to present tenants with verifications of employee background checks to give them peace of mind the people working in and around their homes are trustworthy.
  • March 08 Police officers working with the University of Texas at Arlington recently arrested a man who had avoided police capture on a warrant out of Oregon for nearly two decades. The man, whose real name is Daniel Charles Ray Hanson, spent those 17 years using a variety of fake names and identification documents to move around the country, often engaging with educational institutions under false pretenses. Police say Hanson regularly went by at least three different aliases. He sports a rap sheet that stretches back to an arson conviction in 1995. 
  • March 07

    The Future of EEOC Guidance in Texas Is Up in the Air

    The EEOC issued guidance in 2012 warning employers about the dangers of enforcing categorical policies to bar candidates with criminal histories. That guidance is not enforceable in Texas thanks to a recent court ruling.

  • March 05 Vermont is the latest state to restrict employers’ access to and use of social media accounts of employees and applicants. 
  • March 01 In an age of "industry disruptors" turning established business models on their heads, companies such as Uber and Lyft rely on a unique workforce of individuals outside the traditional employer-employee context. Uber calls them "partners" while other businesses refer to them as "independent contractors," the official classification these individuals use for tax purposes. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) revealed they had warned a business, Postmates, for misclassifying their staff as independent contractors. In the NLRB's determination, these individuals were employees.