D.C. Family Services Contractor Suffers Personal Data Breach

By Michael Klazema on 2/21/2017
Inner City Family Services, an agency that contracts for the Washington, D.C. Department of Behavioral Health, made headlines recently when a worker exposed the private information of a dozen patients. Per a report from FOX 5 DC, the station that broke news of the security breach, the employee responsible for the leak had a criminal record.

The employee, LaTonya Vaughter, reportedly underwent a background check. However, the check was a local criminal history screening and didn’t look beyond the boundaries of the District of Columbia. Vaughter had two felony convictions on her record for grand larceny. Vaughter committed those crimes in Virginia.

In January, FOX 5 reported that Vaughter sent “a dozen confidential patient case files” to a college student who had responded to a job ad on Facebook. The job ad itself said nothing about Inner City Family Services or the Department of Behavioral Health. Per the college student who answered the ad, Vaughter (under an alias) wanted to “hire someone to do my [professional] notes for me.”

When the college student answered the ad, she got an inbox full of patient case files. The files included a wealth of sensitive information like names, social security numbers, and medical diagnoses.

The student reached out to Inner City Family Services to report the information leak. Vaughter was subsequently fired from her job with the agency. One of the patients whose information was potentially compromised by Vaughter’s behavior claims that he has been a victim of identity theft. It’s unclear whether Vaughter sent case files to other recipients and if the patient’s identity theft claims can be traced back to her leaks.

The patient data breach has caused the Department of Behavioral Health to reconsider some of its policies, reports explain. Dr. Tanya Royster, the director of the department, said that Vaughter would never have been hired if she had been screened with a more in-depth background check. Royster said that, under current policy, all private businesses that contract for the Department of Behavioral Health and other D.C. departments are required to run background checks on their employees. She said that city policy currently instructs contractors to run employee background checks but doesn’t specify which types of checks contractors should be conducting or how detailed those checks should be.

Per coverage, Royster hopes to tweak the policy so that contractors have more specific guidelines to comply with when they screen their employees. Specifically, she explained, the policy will likely require contractors to perform national or multi-jurisdictional checks. Background checks that look at local criminal records will not be sufficient to meet city requirements, she said.


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.