Friday, August 7, 2009

Headhunter Slavin says they used Whackenhut to Perform Buie's Background Search

I spoke at length yesterday evening to Bob Slavin of Slavin Consulting, the headhunter who brought Don Buie, among other candidates, to the City of Albany.

Slavin uses the Whackenhut Corporation to do criminal background checks. You can read about Whackenhut at or Whackenhut appears to be a leader in worldwide pre-employment screenings.

According to Slavin, Whackenhut's menu of pre-employment screening products all go back 7 years. Up until a few years ago, they would go back 10 years. Slavin says there was a change in the law that shortened the lookback period. At this point, Slavin appears to believe federal law constrains the review period. Our outside employment lawyer believes the constraints of a company like Whackenhut are due to varying privacy laws in each of the 50 states, not federal law. In other words, Whackenhut could probe deeper in some states, but not others.

The questions I am still trying to get a definitive answer to are:

a) how far back can you legally search in a pre-employment screening generally, and in Buie's case in particular;
b) how far back you can feasibly search in a pre-employment screening generally, and in Buie's case in particular;
c) what is the simplest search that would have revealed Buie's prior criminal history?

My predicted/preliminary answers are:

a) My guess is you can go back as far as a particular state permits it, if you are willing to spend the money. Slavin says he obtained an authorization from Buie to conduct a background search with no specific number of years to look back.
b) A feasible search is probably 7 years on nationwide searches like for Buie because the big companies like Whackenhut don't want to be sued for going back too far in a state that does not allow but a 7 year look back period. However, for local hires a Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) report could be run by the local police dept. with proper authorization from the employee for a nominal charge. It would also seem prudent to run the same type of report for non-local hires from wherever they are coming from, i.e. a Maryland CIC search, if possible, on Buie. I do not know if a Maryland CIC search would have turned up this federal crime.
c) I am still researching the question of the simplest way to have discovered Buie's criminal past. Perhaps a search of federal prisons or a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) search could have uncovered the prior criminal activity for Mr. Buie.

More info to come.

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