Disney Stresses Background Checks after Investigation

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

ESR News BlogA six-month CNN investigation has uncovered “at least 35 Disney employees arrested since 2006 and accused of sex crimes involving children, trying to meet a minor for sex, or for possession of child pornography.” The investigation also found the arrests of five Universal Studios Florida employees and two SeaWorld employees. So far, a total of 32 have been convicted. A CNN report about the investigation, which led Walt Disney World to issue a statement stressing employee background checks, is available at http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/14/us/theme-park-employees-child-sex-stings/.

The CNN investigation – which examined police and court records and interviewed law enforcement officials and some of the accused men – found that that none of the cases involved children or teenagers visiting the parks. In addition, none of the accused employees had a prior history of sex crimes before they were arrested. In the latest sting that ended in July 2014, two Disney employees and an employee at Universal Studios were among those arrested, CNN reports. The Walt Disney World theme park located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida has about 70,000 employees. Universal Studios and SeaWorld are both located in Orlando, Florida.

“Providing a safe environment for children and families is a responsibility we take very seriously,” a Disney spokeswoman said in a statement to CNN. “We have extensive measures in place, including pre-employment and ongoing criminal background checks and computer monitoring and firewalls. The numbers reported by CNN represent one one-hundredth of one percent of the 300,000 people we have employed during this time period. We continue to work closely with law enforcement and organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as we constantly strengthen our efforts.”

Universal Studios told CNN it fired an employee arrested in the July sting. “We have zero tolerance for this kind of activity,” a Universal Studios spokesman said in a statement. “We deal with situations such as this immediately and permanently.” Universal, like Disney and SeaWorld, requires that “all our team members undergo thorough background checks as part of the hiring process.” A SeaWorld spokesman said that the “safety of our team members and employees is our top priority” and that the company has “policies and procedures in place and we need to take appropriate action as needed.”

Organizations use background checks to protect “vulnerable populations” such as the elderly, people with special needs, and – in the case of theme parks such as Disney – children from unqualified, dishonest, and dangerous workers. Background checks may also uncover criminal records that may exclude job applicants from certain positions since they are “job related and consistent with business necessity” as defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

For information about background checks, contact Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) by visiting our website at http://www.ESRcheck.com, calling 415-898-0044 or Toll Free 888-999-4474, or emailing sales@esrcheck.com.