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Stringent hiring helps Select Staffing avoid EPL problems


Select Staffing Inc. works to avoid employment practices liability problems by taking particular care in whom it hires in the first place, says its risk manager.

This is accomplished by testing job applicants and performing particularly thorough background checks, said Fred O. Pachón, vp of risk management and insurance for the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based firm.

But even after the hiring process, the company keeps close tabs on its workers to avoid potential claims, Mr. Pachón said.

The company focuses “quite a bit” on training and audits in its 400 nationwide branches with respect to recruitment, Mr. Pachón said.

Applicants take a “character profiling” test, developed by Salem, Ore.-based Insight Worldwide Inc., in which applicants answer 60 questions that capture “the likelihood of the individual to file a fraudulent claim,” including a fraudulent workers comp claim, or to have attendance problems, among other issues, he said. It provides the front office recruiter with an idea of “at least the likelihood” of an applicant creating such problems, Mr. Pachón said.

In addition, he said, Select Staffing recruiters will carefully check references and conduct a national background search, including an actual court records search, in an effort to “create a profile for the individual,” said Mr. Pachón. This is “more stringent than your typical database” background search, he said.

Discussing the firm's background check procedures, Mr. Pachón said, “we have a pretty tight program.”

“We make sure we have the proper waiver internally. We have a solid system to make sure the backgrounds are seen by qualified people, and sensitive information is not disclosed by anyone else,” he said. “We just follow the privacy laws pretty closely,” he said. “There could be a risk for a company that is not doing that.”

There are some cases, he said, where the unsuccessful job applicant suspects he or she was not hired because of a background check. Sometimes, he said, people “have a sense of entitlement. They feel, "Well, I applied for a job, why didn't you call me?'” and suspect it is because of being overweight, or some other factor. “We typically don't tell them why” they have not been hired, he said, noting Select Staffing is not obligated to do so because it is an at-will employer.

However, “many times they don't take that very well,” and a lawyer will suggest it is because of the background check or medical issues, and go on a “fishing expedition” on the issue.

In those cases, the company typically will reveal the reasons “just to avoid litigation and prolonged expense,” Mr. Pachón said. Generally, it turns out the individual did not pass the test Select Staffing gives its applicants, where “we're trying to match the job to the individual.” For instance, an applicant for a job that requires him to lift 50 pounds will be rejected if he says he cannot lift more than 10, Mr. Pachón said.

Once on the job, the work can be “fast and furious” and “that alone tends to create quite a bit of issues and claims, especially if it is a blue-collar environment,” said Mr. Pachón.

As a staffing company, Select Staffing is the employer of record, and if employees feel they are being pressured and harassed by a client's supervisor, Select Staffing cannot “simply ignore the complaint,” Mr. Pachón said.

To avoid problems in this area, the firm takes steps including conducting performance reviews with its clients to discuss the issues. In addition, Select Staffing has safety managers “on the ground” who talk with clients to make sure there are no unaddressed issues, Mr. Pachón said.

The company also has safety officers whose job is to talk to their colleagues and co-workers to learn of any potential problems, said Mr. Pachón, noting that when asked, a supervisor often will “say everything is fine.”

“The real cure to this is having enough people on the ground to really get a good lead from your employees,” Mr. Pachón said.