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Should Hotels Perform Background Checks?

Should Hotels Perform Background Checks?

Background checks for management positions are standard practice in the hotel business. Employees in these positions are privy to sensitive information regarding the hotel and guests, so the benefits are assumed to outweigh the costs. For lower-level positions, however, the cost associated can seem too overwhelming to be worth it. The question is, should hotels perform background checks on all employees regardless of the expense?

Hotels aren’t currently required to run background checks on all potential employees, but the Arizona Senate is currently trying to change that. In early 2015, they approved a bill that would make background checks mandatory for all hotel employees and prevent convicted sex offenders from entering hotel guest rooms. The bill was inspired by the cases of two women who were raped in their hotel rooms by the front-desk clerk of their hotels. The investigation later revealed that the alleged perpetrator was a convicted sex offender, something that would have come up in a standard background check.

Hotel guests reasonably expect that when they check into a hotel, stay the night, and leave their things unattended in their rooms, they are safe from assault (both physical and sexual) and theft. How can hotels fulfill those expectations if they don’t know the criminal backgrounds of their employees? Not every person with a criminal record needs to be barred, but those with histories of violence and theft have to be blocked from guests’ rooms, both for the guests’ safety and that of the hotel.

When considering whether or not to implement background checks for all potential employees, hotel management should consider if they could handle the legal and financial ramifications of a case similar to the Arizona rapes, not to mention the bad publicity such cases would bring. Investing in the background checks could amount to a minor expense compared to the costs of a lawsuit and significant loss of business.