Why the Melvyn Sprowson case is important to Casino Operators

December 12th, 20130 Comments »

Sprowson was hired as a kindergarten teacher by the Clark County School District (CCSD).

The CCSD performed a background check which included a criminal check, and they also have a procedure in place to check references.

I have been privy to the reference form that the CCSD sends out before extending an offer to a teacher, and can tell you that it is fairly brief and contains:

  • The “usual” inquiries about work performance and solicits opinions on their suitability as a teacher.
  • An area on the reference form inquiring if the person providing the reference knows of any arrests or criminal history for the person they are considering hiring.
  • A section inquiring  if the person providing the reference is bound by any type of confidentiality or employer agreement that prevents answering the questions.

Seem simple enough, but —

Sprowson was arrested recently for having a relationship with a 16-year-old girl.

Technically that may not be a crime since the age of consent in Nevada in 16. It is up to the legal eagles to duke it out in court and does not bear much weight for the point of this article. (If you are interested in reading more about Sprowson you can visit my Las Vegas Word News blog)

What’s important, or should be important, is that during the course of the investigation into Sprowson, it was discovered that there were allegations made against him, in the state of California, where he was employed as a teacher before moving to Las Vegas, for improperly touching students.

He was sued by a child’s legal guardian for unlawful sexual acts and the school district was sued as well for negligent hiring.

Before the case got to court, the Los Angeles School District reached a settlement with the child’s family in 2010.

That information was never disclosed to the CCSD.

In fact, the LA Times listed him in 2007 as a most effective teacher.

Will the Sprowson case impact information that casinos disclose?

How many times has a casino caught a person stealing and, if it was a relatively small amount, offered the person the opportunity to resign, or simply terminated the individual if they were within their probationary period?

The answer is more times than casino operators and other business would like to admit to.

It’s often the easiest solution and saves time and money.

The flip side, of course, is the dishonest individual is able to obtain employment at the casino down the street.

A number of years ago,  I worked on the slot floor of a major strip casino. I watched the floor like a hawk and am one of those people that seem to have an innate ability to spot out “improprieties”.

There was a change person recently hired that I was very suspicious of and, ultimately, my suspicions were right on the money.

In a nutshell, the change bank that the individual was assigned to was broken into.

Although the perpetrator was never caught, the entire incident reeked of an inside job.

The HRD decided to re-verify this person’s references. The person that they contacted happened to know me and asked if I was still employed there.

About a week later, this person that was called for the reference, a mid level executive at a neighboring casino, called me at work and wanted to know if we were considering hiring the change person.

When I replied that the person already “worked here”, there was dead silence and I knew something was up.

The casino executive finally told me that this person’s change bank was broken into and that they were very suspicious of the circumstances and believed that the change person orchestrated the theft. Since the change person was within the introductory period, the person was let go.

I reported the conversation to HR and, since the individual was within their probationary period, the person was let go.

The suspected thief then became someone else’s problem.

Because of liability and legal concerns, and of course financial concerns, many businesses follow similar protocols.

How the CCSD new direction will affect businesses

The CCSD has been defending their hiring practices and explaining that they did check Sprowson’s criminal history and  references.

They also acknowledge that more must be done to prevent similar types of situations from recurring.

Obviously having pedophiles running amok in positions of authority at area schools is simply not a good thing.

They vow to revamp their hiring procedures and mentioned using Google, and other tools such as monitoring social media, as part of their investigative process.

But what about disclosure procedures?

It has to work both ways.

Wouldn’t you, as a casino operator, want to know, if a person that you were considering hiring was,

  • investigated for theft in the work place?
  • accused of sexual assault?
  • known for displaying a strong propensity towards violence?
  • suspected of having terrorist ties?
  • allowed to resign from a prior position in exchange for criminal charges not being filed?

Of course you would.

Think about this scenario,

A person that you hired ended up bringing a gun to work and shooting and killing a number of employee and guests.

After the massacre you discover that at the prior casino they were employed at, they had bought a weapon to work but since they didn’t shoot and kill anyone, and because they were within their introductory period, they were simply let go.

As the casino operator that hired this individual, from a business perspective, you could, and likely would, face a number of expensive lawsuits, would receive an enormous amount of the wrong kind of attention and could very likely watch your business plummet.

You would also have to contend with the emotional toll that the massacre has caused for employees and the community.

And you would very likely try to find a way to sue the other casino that did not disclose the information when you checked their employment records.

It’s not that far-fetched.

Where do businesses draw the line as to what they disclose and what they don’t?

What are the legal and moral factors involved?

And, of course, what about the ever important privacy?

The good news is that if there is some common ground reached, like the GSA for example, then over the long-term, all casino operators would likely see more go to their bottom line because of more efficient hiring and disclosure practices.

Less turnover. Less theft. Less risk.

All of those less’ equate to more to the bottom line.

With a major revamp on the way as to how the CCSD will better vet potential employees and ultimately what information they disclose to perspective employers, one thing is for sure.

It will impact many businesses, particularly the heavily regulated casino industry, by causing them to reevaluate not only their process of disclosing information but the morality and good citizenship behind it.

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About Chellie Cervone

A Las Vegas "native" by way of New York, I'm a professional blogger who favors all things Las Vegas and offers a unique, witty and sometimes controversial perspective. You can count on me to tell it like it is. Please visit my other sites Las Vegas World News and Celebrity Feast Connect with me on Google+ Chellies World on Google+

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