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Best Practices for Risk Management Planning: Hiring Practices

David Epstein

A cable company has been ordered to pay more than $7 billion to the family of a Texas woman who was murdered in her home by one of its employees. This jury award highlights one of the most important practices for risk management – the pre-employment screening process.

The trial testimony apparently revealed that Charter Spectrum hired the field technician without performing any screening at all and did not even verify his employment history. Additionally, numerous negligent practices by the employee were not corrected – neglecting another best practice in risk management – the performance review and performance plan.

In December of 2019 the Charter Spectrum technician worked at the victims home, but returned the next day in uniform in a company van, even though off-duty. He then stabbed the 83 year old woman to death. In court it was argued that a standard pre-employment screening would have revealed massive red flags in the technicians work history, including several lies and other factors that would have disqualified him from employment with Charter, such as being fired for falsifying documents, being fired for forgery, and being fired for harassment.

The technician also had been disciplined multiple times at Charter Spectrum for taking pictures of customers licenses and credit cards at their homes. This alone should have been a firing offense and subjected the employee to internal mechanisms with HR.

In the days leading up to the murder, the technician broke down crying in a meeting with his supervisory and told him that he wasn’t ok – yet still, nothing was done to intervene with this employee despite the literal cry for help.

A Dallas jury awarded $337.5 million in compensatory damages in June and added $7 billion in punitive damages in August, highlighting the importance of screening, hiring practices, and employee review and discipline practices for better risk management. Charter Spectrum could have prevented this tragedy at many different points, but instead did nothing.


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