Background Checks Not Required at Carnivals and Fairs

ESR News Blog

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Oregon and Washington – along with the federal government – do not require carnivals and fairs to run criminal background checks on employees who work around children and sometimes even handle them, according to a report by the KATU Channel 2 On Your Side Investigators in Portland, Oregon.

KATU reports that since carnivals and fairs – and companies they hire – are not required by law to run background checks on workers “criminals, including sex offenders, can sometimes slip through.” As a result, companies that have hired sex offenders are operating at fairs and carnivals in the Portland area.

KATU found that two main companies hired for carnivals and fairs in the Portland area “had big problems in Washington.” One company hired sex offenders two years in a row, including a woman described as “an extreme danger to children and the community” who is now serving prison time.

The other company operating at carnivals and fairs in the Portland area “had to fire three registered sex offenders” last year. The company told KATU that it ran background checks on employees but did not wait for the results to come back before two of the workers who were eventually fired started work.

KATU contacted state lawmakers to tell them Washington, Oregon, and the federal government did not require background checks for workers at fairs and carnivals.” Washington state Representative Liz Pike told KATU she and Washington state Senator Ann Rivers will work on legislation requiring background checks.

Oregon state Representative Joe Gallegos told KATU by email: “I would need to see the language of the bill to ensure that it doesn’t discriminate, but at first blush, yes. It’s important that we take every reasonable and proactive step to ensure that we are protecting our families and children from those who would do them harm.”

The report by the KATU Channel 2 On Your Side Investigators about why Oregon and Washington do not require carnivals and fairs to run background checks on employees is available at: http://www.katu.com/news/investigators/No-standards-in-background-checks-means-felons-at-the-fair-268383652.html.