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.


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