Recently a coworker informed me they were convicted for check fraud and sent to prison several years ago, they advised me they did not disclose this information when being hired by the company. I work for a large Financial company and deal with social security numbers and personal account information daily. Should I go to HR to make them aware?
Tread carefully. This falls under three categories:
- Legal Issues
- Company Policy Conflicts
- Confidentiality Ethics
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. It should not read as if it is, but just for the sake of being crystal clear I am adding this note.
Check Fraud can be all sorts of things, and depending on the jurisdiction and the details of the fraud could be a misdemeanor or a felony.
Companies in some states are barred from asking about prior convictions at all.
Some jurisdictions may also limit employment of ex-cons in certain fields (of which financial services could be one).
These are not things that you will be able to figure out on your own easily, but realize that the law may apply to this situation and any information provided to the employer (read: it could be legally complicated if you report it).
The company policy (especially for a large financial services firm) likely follows the law.
It is possible that despite the non-disclosure of the conviction, the company already knows from a background check. Or it is possible that the conviction was actually an arrest, and state law may generally prohibit using non-open arrests without convictions against potential employees like in NY.
Regardless, what you have to worry about company policy wise is:
- If you have an obligation to report this information
- If the information you have is actually actionable by the employer
- What the procedure is for reporting this sort of information (and if it can be done anonymously)
Generally discussions held in confidence are expected to be kept private. This is something that not only your coworker may think, but also your employer. If there is no compelling legal or company policy reason to disclose the information, sharing it may make you look bad.
Read your company policy and employment contract to see if it offers any guidance. Also check to see if your HR policy has a policy on keeping consultations with employees private. Depending on those results, I would recommend an anonymous e-mail sent from home from an account designed solely to send the e-mail, or a face-to-face meeting in private with a member from HR asking something like the following:
If I were to hypothetically overhear a coworker admit that they have been convicted of a crime in the past, am I required, legally or by company policy, to disclose it to you or another member of HR?
This should tell you what the stance of HR is on the issue, and should help you decide how you want to proceed.
You do not have knowledge of illegal activity.
You have been told that one of your coworkers has a past that may disqualify them from being employed there. It is possible that your employer found out about the problem and hired them anyway. It is also possible that the person is making it up.
The safest thing for you to do is approach your HR Rep and ask if hypothetically someone you work with told you that they had a record for check fraud, would it be your obligation to report it to HR? I suspect they will ask do you know for sure that they have this record? Do you suspect that they are dishonest when they are performing their duties? If you answer both of those no then they may very well tell you that it falls into the category of gossip. But your company may have other policies so it is probably safer to ask HR if you need to report it than this SE.
You need to protect your self in the case that there was an obligation you can state that you talked to X in HR on September 27th and were told Y. But after that you are probably better off pretending you do not know the information.
I would worry about this more if I saw immediate evidence of unusual behavior or spending habits. In short, if this individual seems to be living within his means and isn't nosing around in stuff that he shouldn't be, it's quite likely that the situation was an aberration. It is kind of interesting that someone like that would have slipped through a background check, but we know now how thorough those are, don't we?
One has to consider that people are sometimes left high and dry by the behavior of relatives or working associates. He might have taken a fall for someone, or might have agreed to the plea to save someone else from going to jail. You might figure out that what he had actually done was hide someone else's offenses, and taken a rap for what might otherwise have been obstruction of justice, without actually committing the fraud.
That kind of thing would have had to be pretty major for someone to actually go to jail. 'Major' being in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, for instance, and/or multiple offenses.