A woman was fired from her customer service job at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Milwaukee recently for a 40-year-old shoplifting conviction, calling into question not just rules about background checks, but judgment calls regarding the policies that employers establish regarding what is turned up by employment screening tactics.
According to news reports, Yolanda Quesada was escorted out of the office where she’d worked full-time for five years and had been given recognition awards, service excellence pins and certificates of appreciation. The reason: A background check conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation had turned up two shoplifting arrests, both from 1972, when Quesada was 18. She admits she stole clothing from a Milwaukee department store on both occasions; she was fined $50 for the first, and placed on one year of probation for the second.
Quesada’s former role with Wells Fargo did not include the handling of money, but company spokesman Jim Hines said “Because Wells Fargo is an insured depository institution, we are bound by federal law that generally prohibits us from hiring or continuing the employment of any person who we know has a criminal record involving dishonesty or breach of trust.”
Being bound by law to honor certain rules regarding the criminal records of employees or potential employees is understandable, but employers across all industries should use this example as a reminder to not only set fair practices in regards to employment screening, but to use good judgment and common sense when interpreting the results and comparing facts on background checks and criminal records with the tasks that the prospective employee will be in charge of. Every decision on the employment of an individual comes down to a judgment call; let’s use good judgment to hire good people.