One of my current cases involves a popular quick serve restaurant franchise that recently made the news for failing to protect an underage employee. It just burns me up how preventable this could have been. I’m a former law enforcement officer and managing partner at Isenberg & Hewitt since 1989. I serve on the boards of a variety of victim’s rights organizations, including Marsy’s Law for Georgia, the National Crime Victim Bar Association, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Crime Victims Advocacy Council and Atlanta Victim Assistance, Inc. I have dedicated my life to serving victims and fighting for their rights. These stories are heartbreaking and I’m glad we have campaigns like National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to further elevate victims’ voices locally, regionally and nationally.
I want to call attention to how simple it is, in most cases, for companies to prevent victims in the making by nipping these entirely preventable tragedies in the bud from happening. I’m referring to the recent passage of the Criminal Record Responsibility Act (CRRA) into law which requires Georgia’s court systems to accurately and expeditiously enter criminal justice data into the centralized Georgia Criminal Information Center (GCIC).
How is this relevant to supporting victims? Let’s refer to my recent case where the restaurant franchise hired a manager — who was a registered sex offender and was previously convicted of child molestation. This information was all on record and for the most part accessible by a Google search had this or any company done a simple background check, this information would have come to light and this man hopefully would not have been hired to a position to supervise minors. My client would never have been “groomed” or been impregnated by a convicted felon.
With an increase in labor shortages and the rise of inflation, more and more teenagers — minors — are entering the workforce to help bring added income into their households. Businesses that rely on teenage labor should require mandatory background checks so that no one with a history of harming children is put in a position of authority over them. It’s also simply irresponsible to not inform parents and guardians that their child may be working alongside a convicted child molester.
While I honor National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and will always speak for victims, I also want us to use common sense in preventing this kind of reprehensible action from happening. The tools are out there, let’s hold corporations responsible if they don’t use them to protect our children or families.