Walgreens to Pay $7.5 Million for Employing Unlicensed Pharmacist without Proper Background Check

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On February 3, 2020, the Alameda County District Attorney (DA) announced a $7.5 million settlement in a consumer protection action against Walgreens for employing a pharmacist for over a decade who was not licensed by the Board of Pharmacy. This mistake occurred due to a failure “to complete a thorough background check,” according to a press release from the Office of the Alameda County, California DA.

“This case serves as a cautionary tale for every health care provider that hires people into positions requiring a professional license,” Alameda County D Nancy E. O’Malley stated in the press release. “The burden is on the company to make sure its employees are properly licensed and to complete a thorough background check. My office will be vigilant in protecting consumers and enforcing licensing laws.”

Alameda County DA O’Malley – along with the District Attorney of Santa Clara County, CA – claimed Walgreens failed to perform a thorough background check on Kim Thien Le when the pharmacy store chain promoted her to positions at multiple pharmacies that required a pharmacist license. The pharmacy store chain also failed to make sure that its internal systems were strong enough to prevent an employee from evading those systems.

The press release stated that the complaint alleges Le performed one or more of the pharmacist-required steps for over 745,000 prescriptions, including over 100,000 prescriptions for controlled substances. Her employment with the company ended in or about October 2017. The California Attorney General’s Office has since charged her with false personation and related felonies.

Walgreens has taken steps to re-verify the licenses of its pharmacy employees around the country. Along with paying approximately $7.5 million in penalties, costs, and remedial payments, the civil judgment requires Walgreens to ensure licensure compliance by implementing a verification program, posting proof of licensure, conducting annual audits, and submitting an annual compliance report.

“Employers waste valuable time and run the risk of making a bad hiring decision when an applicant’s resume misrepresents things like past employment dates, level of education, references, licenses, or credentials,” explained Attorney Lester Rosen, the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of leading global background check provider Employment Screening Resources® (ESR).

Rosen – author of “The Safe Hiring Manual” – will speak at the 2020 SHRM Talent Conference & Exposition in Orlando, Florida, in an event hosted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). He will present a session titled “Legal and Effective Reference Checking, Credential and Education Verification” from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday, April 21, 2020.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – offers employers three levels of verifications to verify the education, employment, references, and professional licenses and credentials to help companies avoid public embarrassment and damage to reputation. To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Verifications-References/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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