Have you ever thought for a second that there would be a chance that that unpaid parking ticket or some other unresolved fine you have yet to take care of would land you in jail, all because you went for a job interview? This week, Atlanta newspapers and blogs reported the unfortunate story of Tateasa Adams, a 37 year old singer and job seeker, who found out the hard way.
Having come in to apply for a job as a performer for two musical revues at Six Flags Over Georgia, Tateasa Adams was later contacted by the amusement park’s loss prevention department regarding some findings on her background check. She addressed their concerns over a traffic misdemeanor, divulging her reason behind missing the date she was due in court – She spent that day in Boston with her ailing fiancé, Michael Rampey, as he underwent his required specialized treatment, only offered at Massachusetts General Hospital. Suffering with a rare genetic disease, Michael is a heart transplant recipient who since has been diagnosed with cancer, and the status of his recovery took precedence on the day in question.
Adams later received an email confirming her appointment for a second interview at Six Flags, specifying that she was to come to the park on Feb 29th, “dressed in business attire – this is an interview”, and to bring with her a valid photo ID. So when she showed up early and was led to a room to fill out more application papers, she had no idea that it would end with her being fingerprinted, photographed and hauled off to the county jail.
Six Flags Over Georgia had successfully orchestrated and executed their own “sting operation” to catch a traffic violator by staging a fake follow-up job interview.
On the day of her second interview, while Adams sat filling out forms in the loss prevention office, funpark officials were verifying her identification by phone with the Cobb County Police., who arrived on the scene in 45 minutes to arrest Ms. Adams.
Issued citations for driving without insurance and an expired tag in 2010, Adams who says she luckily just received her tax refund, posted bond at $1,845 and was released. However, still seeking employment, she worries that the arrest has already ruined her chances for a number of opportunities. As it stands, when her name is searched online, the first page to appear is her mugshot. “This has been a total nightmare. I’m not making any excuses for missing the court date. I should’ve taken care of that. But it’s not like I’m some dangerous criminal,” says Adams.
Six Flags Over Georgia had this to say in an emailed statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“As part of our standard hiring procedure, all potential employees over the age of 18 must undergo a criminal history background check. In this particular instance, a warrant was discovered. Per our guidelines, Cobb County Police were notified and an arrest was made.”
Ed Buckley, Labor and employment attorney, mentioned that the actions of the park were unusual, and though there are companies that will notify law enforcement of such findings, for the company itself to expedite an arrest was bizarre. He had this to say:
“It seems to me a dangerous practice to engineer someone’s arrest,” Buckley told the AJC. “They run the risk of creating unnecessary claims for themselves. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Even the police were surprised by the abnormal tactics exhibited by the business. Cobb police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce said that this was an unusual arrest made by the department because “We try to keep businesses out of the loop any way we can,” he said.
I understand the need to report a person if warrants for arrest are discovered, however, was it right for Six Flags to devise a set up to capture someone with a minor offense and have them arrested? Shouldn’t the extent of their responsibility end with a simple notification to the authorities? At that point, all forms filled out by Tateasa Adams could have then been shared with the police to have them take it from there.
Should job seekers actively pursuing employment to help them catch up on bills and settle debts, that have piled up during their unemployed state, be afraid that the very issues they may be trying to correct would be the thing that not only blocks them from getting the job, but may also have them arrested?
What are your thoughts on this?