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City of Schenectady Adopting New Background Check Policy

By Michael Klazema on 9/8/2017
In the past, the City of Schenectady has limited its background checks to certain high-responsibility positions. Going forward, the upstate New York city will run background checks on all prospective hires. The shift, per a report from Schenectady’s Daily Gazette, is due to a pair of incidents that caused the city to question is honor system policy.

Schenectady is not one of the cities in New York that bans the box, reports explain. As a result, the city still has questions about criminal history on its job applications. In most cases, those questions are the extent of the city’s criminal history screenings. Candidates are expected to disclose serious convictions and are given the benefit of the doubt if they don’t.

At least, that’s the way things have happened in the past. Going forward, the City of Schenectady wants to revamp is pre-employment screening policies. The Daily Gazette notes that the details of the new background check policy aren’t set in stone yet since the City Council needs to approve it first. Sources indicate that the policy will call for background checks for all prospective hires and will also involve fingerprinting. Full-time employees, part-time employees, and seasonal workers would all be expected to submit to the checks.

The City of Schenectady says that it has been thinking about revisiting its employee screening policies for some time. Per reports, a pair of recent incidents ultimately convinced the city that the changes needed to happen now.

This year, the City of Schenectady has had to fire two employees for failing to disclose serious convictions on their job applications, coverage states. First, in March, the city suspended a building code inspector because he failed to disclose two felony convictions from his past. The convictions—dating back to 1980 and 1985—involved phony checks and burglary. The employee, Kenneth Tyree, was also charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide regarding a building fire that killed four people. Tyree inspected the building the day before the fire but failed to evacuate the building when he noticed an inoperable alarm system.

Second, in July, the city fired an employee in the Waste Department when it came to light that he was registered as a sex offender. The sex offense conviction came in 2006 when the man was convicted of inappropriately and forcibly touching a 15-year-old girl.

Schenectady’s new background check policy will do away with the honor system that relies on applicants to disclose their own criminal histories, reports note. The new checks are expected to cost $80 each. It isn’t clear whether the city will cover the cost or if it will fall to applicants to pay.

Sources: 

https://dailygazette.com/article/2017/09/07/schenectady-to-start-background-checks-on-prospective-hires

https://dailygazette.com/article/2017/03/02/code-inspector-building-manager-indicted-in-fatal-jay-street-fire

https://dailygazette.com/article/2017/03/02/code-inspector-building-manager-indicted-in-fatal-jay-street-fire


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