EEOC, were they really listening?

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EEOC, were they really listening?

eeoc-logoThis week the EEOC held a hearing on “Arrest and Conviction Records as a Barrier to Employment” in Washington, DC to a packed room.  Here is what the audience didn’t hear…the letter I sent to each member of the EEOC.

July 21, 2011
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Attention: Chairwoman Jacqueline A. Berrien
131 M Street, NE
Washington, DC 20507
RE: Comments to the EEOC Meeting on July 26, 2011 on Arrest and Convictions Records as
a Barrier to Employment

Dear Chairwoman Berrien,

I am Lucia Bone, Founder of The Sue Weaver C.A.U.S.E., Consumer Awareness of Unsafe
Service Employment. I am grateful to the Civil Practices Committee for the opportunity to
appear here today and share with you why I am so passionate about every state requiring
criminal background checks on all service employees, contractors and sub-contactors allowed to
work in or at our home in memory of my sister, Sue Weaver.

How many of you would invite a stranger into your home?

What if he was a twice convicted sex offender?

What if he had another man with him?

I can almost guarantee the majority of you are saying “no way”.

Allow me to take this scenario just one step future.

What if you had placed a service call with a major company and were expecting them?

Now would you allow these men in your home?

Would you know if they were both convicted felons?

Don’t you trust the companies you hire to do service work in your home? Don’t you trust them
NOT to send convicted felons into your home?

Our home is our haven. If you can’t feel safe there, where are you safe?

Roughly 1/3 of all rapes take place in the daylight, and close to half occur at or near the victim’s
home. National Criminal Victimization Survey, “Preventing Violence Against Women,” June 1995. And, nearly
6 out of 10 rape/sexual assault incidents are reported by victims to have occurred in their home
or at the home of a friend. U.S. Department of Justice

My sister was looking forward to her new life, her new home, gardens, and getting to be a
second “Mom” to my son who was living with her while attending school in Orlando, FL. Sue
had everything to live for.

After noticing a film on her furniture, she concluded her air ducts needed to be cleaned. It might
have been the coupon in her credit card statement, a newspaper advertisement, or something she
found on their website for Sue to even know that Burdines, a premier Florida store, even did duct
cleaning. Regardless, she trusted Burdines. She trusted Burdines to NOT send convicted felons
into her home to do her service work. That trust cost Sue Weaver her life.

In February, 2001, when Sue opened the door to two men wearing Burdines uniforms, she had no
way of knowing she was inviting a rapist and a burglar into her home. Home
alone…………….a single woman, two convicted felons.

Her day planner had a notation for the 20th of Feb, duct cleaning, all day, must be out of house.
Well, I know my sister, she would never have left her home completely, however she was most
likely tending to her orchids in the backyard while the two men had total access to her home.

Every door, every window, every lock, maybe even a hiding place……….

Monday morning, August 27, 2001, six months after Sue’s air ducts were cleaned, the twice
convicted sex offender returned to her home. He tied her up, he raped her, he beat her to death,
and then he set her body and her home on fire in hopes of destroying the DNA evidence.

If it wasn’t for the timing of the Fed Ex driver, we might not have ever known what happened to
Sue or who brutally murdered her.

It was six very long weeks before DNA was matched to twice convicted sex offender Jeffrey
Hefling. He was on probation from his early prison release in 1999. He served only thirteen
years of a thirty year sentence for his second rape conviction.

The night he was arrested, my 78 year old mother Googled his name. He instantly came up as a
registered sex offender in Florida. The caption stated, “Caution: Suspect dangerous, has a history
of being extremely violence toward women”. It even showed his occupation as AC repairman.
His employer wouldn’t have even had to pay for a criminal background check to know he was
not suitable to be working in their customers’ homes.

Yes, Burdines was liable. The subcontractor went out of business and Burdines settled for
millions. I personally don’t like talking about the lawsuit and am not one usually in favor of a
lawsuit. However, a life was taken, and negligent hire was proven. It is an important message for
businesses to understand the liability risk they take when they don’t do criminal background
checks.

What happened to Sue was not unfortunately an isolated tragic incident.
Pizza delivery, meter reading, furniture delivery and home repair have all resulted in murder.

There are many innocent victims and worse yet, their murders could and should have been
prevented.

Approximately 67.5% of prisoners released in 1994 were rearrested within three years. “Bureau of
Justice Statistics”

Sue was very special to me. She was my best friend, my big sister, my mentor, my idol, my
inspiration. She was however no different than any one of us. She was actually no different than
your best friend or your sister. What happened to Sue could happen to anyone of us or our loved
ones if we continue to allow strangers into our homes that haven’t been properly vetted and
screened to ensure that it is the right person for the job.

I hope each of you will not forget Sue’s story. The next time you need a service call, please ask,
do you do criminal background checks on the people you are sending into your client’s home. If
they say no, I encourage you to contact another company. Never be home alone during a service
call, your children are not protection. Schedule the service call when your husband, roommate or
friend can be there. If service individuals are left alone in your home, check the area where they
worked to ensure nothing is out of place – like an unlocked window or door.

The statistics are startling – One woman is raped or sexually assaulted every two minutes in the
United States. One in three women will be raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime. U.S.
Department of Justice

After 2 ½ years we finally settled for a plea bargain. Hefling is serving a life sentence for a
recently solved rape from 1994 and three consecutive life sentences plus 30 years for 1st degree
murder of my sister, rape, arson, and burglary. He will never get out and he will never hurt
another woman, but what about all the other convicted felons working in our homes?

Please remember Sue’s C.A.U.S.E., as we campaign for long overdue national legislation
supporting criminal background checks on all service employees, contractors and sub-contractors
that work in or at our homes.

Above all, businesses need to get our message. They need to realize that it is in their very best
interests to conduct pre-employment background checks both to ensure the safety of their
customers and to protect their own reputations.

Thousands of companies already carry out pre-hire checks. Unfortunately many more do not.

There is absolutely no excuse for them not to.

Background checks make good business sense. Hopefully, those companies that have this policy
will use this in their advertising and promotional material. They will certainly attract more
customers this way.

We want to make consumers are aware of the real and serious threat that they face when they let
workers into their homes. People must not assume that just because they are employing a
company with a national name and reputation that the people being sent into their homes to carry
out the work are beyond reproach.

Too many major companies around the country that offer in-home services – companies that we
thought we could trust – are hiring convicted rapist and hardened criminals without doing any
sort of background checks.

Other companies outsource this work to sub-contractors, again without insisting on pre-hire
screening.

Worse still, there are companies like Burdines who require that their general contractors and subcontractors
carry out background checks yet do nothing to ensure compliance.

Had criminal background checks been carried out, Sue might still be alive today.

It is absurd that a person with multiple convictions for violent sexual assaults should be engaged
as a home repairman, yet it happens over and over again.

John Wayne once said:
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. It comes to us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect
when it arrives, and it puts itself in our hands and hopes we’ve learned something from
yesterday.”

I ask you to learn from all the innocent victims of negligent hiring, in their memory and in Sue’s.
Convicted felons will continue to make house calls until we stop them!

As you conduct your upcoming Commission Meeting on Arrest and Conviction Records as a
Barrier to Employment, I ask that you consider the other side of the coin and remember my
sister’s case. As the Commission considers revising its guidance on the use of arrest and
conviction records, consider that background checks are beneficial for employers and they
should be conducted more often, not less! Sue didn’t commit the heinous crimes that Hefling
committed, Burdine’s should have known about his criminal past and not sent him into
consumers’ homes. Is this too much to ask, that employers take appropriate steps to ensure the
safety of their customers from their employees? Unfortunately, my sister paid the ultimate price
because a background check wasn’t conducted that would have alerted Burdine’s as to who
Hefling was. That doesn’t mean Hefling couldn’t have been hired, just that armed with the
knowledge of this criminal history, Burdine’s shouldn’t have sent him to my sister’s or anyone’s
home.

Thank you for your time and most importantly…..be safe.

Kind regards,
Lucia Bone
Founder/Speaker
The Sue Weaver C.A.U.S.E.

And what I heard was eight of the nine panelist siting statistics and examples of job placement for ex-convicts and some of the startling job examples.  One woman boasted about how the hotel chains she represents hires people right out of prison.  Apparently she has never heard of Nan’s Law, founded after Nan Toder was murdered by a hotel maintenance man with a criminal history.  And then there was the nonprofit kitchen that served both children and elderly.  The testimonies lumped all convicts on the same level regardless of the crimes, so maybe those jobs are acceptable, but what if they aren’t?  Does someone else have to be raped or murdered before this blanket mindset is reviewed.  There is a job for everyone…..but not all jobs are for everyone.  I wonder how many of the members of the EEOC would want a rapist serving a meal to their elderly mother on young child?  Or how they would feel about the hotel maintenance man just getting out of prison having the key to their room.

And then there were the countless times that criminal background checks were misrepresented, misquoted, and grossly misunderstood. Not once did I hear how criminal background checks not only save lives, reduce workplace violence, and reduce negligent hiring and negligent retention.

It’s time we put “God” back in the schools and government and give the victims the right and voice they deserve over their perpetrator.

 

  1. Hunter08-02-2011

    Hello,

    From what I read, your letter is reasonable to post to the EEOC Commission regarding employment. I don’t believe that criminals, hardened or not, should be allowed to work jobs that involve customer relations or participate in services that have a client base. In fact, I believe that the more offenses a criminal has on his rap sheet, the harder it is for him to find a job.

    In particular, I can only find a good job for a criminal working in prison, labor jobs that group criminals by sex and out in the middle of nowhere, no homes within miles.

    A tragic death Sue Weaver had and it proves that we need guns, weapons in our own home and on our persons. We should be evidently ready to meet any incident that happens, and that means shooting them down before it happens.

    Guns are not the only defense. So are background checks. Isolation of hardened criminals to job sectors they must work in without risks to others are another.

    It’s a shame how companies are not doing more to help protect their clients, customers, etc. If I ran 50 companies today, I would still REQUIRE background checks or the manager and the people he hired would be fired, laid off, or disciplined for not adhering to my strict standards of how a company runs, should be made into, etc.

    I hope the cause you have devised helps everyone, incites other businesses to join and I would gladly join this cause with my own businesses should I build them from the ground up. Not only honest products are my main focus when it comes to businesses, so are the safety of my clients and customers!

    Thanks for bringing this to me online. I thought the EEOC would help me when I faced problems at work because of my disability but their laziness, lack of prompt response or use of your letter in your commission made me realize I just cannot trust an inactive body who cannot see reason.

    Above all, do not trust government for your sole protection. Trust in yourself and your gun, but first and foremost God.

    Thanks,

    Hunter

  2. Ben09-06-2011

    Social policy must not be based on emotionally charged stories. For every Sue Weaver story, there are hundreds of good hard working people being denied the right to earn a living over misdemeanors having no correlation towards fitness to perform a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage.

    When society accepts injustice for many as the necessary consequence of an injustice suffered by a single individual, we all lose and ill-will prevails.

    • Fred09-13-2011

      Ben,
      I agree that “social policy should not be made on emotionally charged stories.” It should be made with facts. Lucia Bone presented a relevent set of facts that often get lost when emotionally charged stories are told about those with convictions being unable to find jobs. I hope you noted that Lucia Bone clarified her remarks with the statement “There is a job for everyone… but not all jobs are for everyone.”

      We need to help ex-offenders gain suitable employment, and we need to recognize if and when offenses are relevant to consider in making a hiring decision, but in doing so we also need to recognize the fact that not every job is appropriate for everyone.

      Wouldn’t you agree that we must take responsibility for those we hire to ensure we do not make negligent and tragic decisions?

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