A Newspaper In New Mexico Hired A Convicted Sex Offender​

November 05, 2019
After a reporter was hired to cover stories at local schools, it was discovered that the person was listed on a sex offender registry.
Backgrounds Online | November 05, 2019

After a reporter was hired to cover stories at local schools, it was discovered that the person was listed on a sex offender registry.

Sex Offender Hired As A Reporter

A publication in New Mexico called The Gallup Independent hired a new employee as an education reporter. They did not realize that this individual had a serious criminal record. He has been charged with possessing child pornography and sexually assaulting a minor.

Once the employee’s past was revealed, the Independent published a story that said they were unaware of the man’s criminal background. They suggested the staff was not at fault for bringing him on because their procedures had been followed as expected. According to their story, an active state law was the reason they were unable to learn about the individual’s record.

Ban The Box Blamed

New Mexico, like many other states, has a Ban the Box law in place. This is part of a Second Chance movement in America that is designed to help people with minor or outdated criminal records find employment. While these laws are not consistent, the basic idea is that employers are prohibited from asking questions about arrests or convictions on job applications.

The goal of the Second Chance movement is to prevent employers from automatically disqualifying applicants who have any type of criminal record. If someone indicates they have a conviction on their application, that person is unlikely to receive further consideration.

However, millions of Americans have minor criminal records that do not make them ineligible for most positions. By ‘banning the box’, employers gain an opportunity to learn about an applicant’s qualifications and then discover if a person has a criminal past. Employers should use all relevant details to help them make informed business decisions.

Criminal Records Searches In Ban The Box States

Although the Independent suggested they could not know about their hire’s criminal past because New Mexico is a Ban the Box state, that law does not prohibit employers from running background checks. In fact, every employer is encouraged to conduct comprehensive criminal searches prior to bringing on any employee, contractor or volunteer.

Ban the Box laws sometimes include details about when background checks should be run. Most often, this will occur after an interview or a conditional job offer. New Mexico Senator Bill O’Neill, who sponsored the bill, spoke to this fact. He said the state’s Ban the Box law does not “affect an employer's responsibility to look into criminal history.” He also expressed surprise that the publication used the law as a reason to not check a potential employee’s background.

An Obligation To Safety

When an organization brings on any person to represent their brand, they should first perform all due diligence to ensure that individual doesn’t pose a threat to their staff, customers or the public. Not doing so could put the people you serve at risk. The story in New Mexico provides a startling example of this fact.

Before you hire anyone, take the necessary precautions to create a safe workplace by running a criminal background check. Use it to make informed decisions and find the right people for your brand. The team at Backgrounds Online can help you create background screening packages that are perfectly tailored for any position. Contact us for more information and to start running background checks today.