Euro Disney accused of spying on job applicants in French court

Posted Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:15 AM | Contributed by VitaminsAndGravy

Euro Disney, the company that runs Disneyland Paris, and two former gendarmes have been taken to court in France for using alleged spying tactics on candidates who applied for jobs at the theme park. The case at Meaux, east of Paris, which opened on Wednesday, relates to a secret agreement under which the Mickey Mouse theme park paid the former gendarmes around €36,000 (£30,500) a year to access illegally police file information on job applicants, including their court history, legal cases and former convictions.

Read more from The Guardian.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:32 AM

My first thought to this was, what kind of applicant pool are they drawing that they are so concerned about criminal history to go to this length to find out? Do they not have the standard background checks that we tend to have here?

I wonder if they also check the applicants' facebook profiles? ;-)

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 11:23 AM

Kind of sounds like what DL used to do in Anaheim, actually. Disney had people that had more or less free reign of the Orange County courthouse, until someone blew the whistle on them a while back.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 11:28 AM

Pre-employment background checks such as those typical in the United States are not common practice in Europe.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 12:27 PM

Yeah, that's the context I think we're missing. I've had background checks required of most jobs with big companies. One even checked credit, which is weird. Drug tests aren't uncommon either.

Of course, we don't care about civil liberties here, because we let the terrorists win.

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Friday, April 26, 2013 3:38 AM

That was my first thought as well, that what we regard as common practice here is considered a protected civil liberty in other parts of the world. For most jobs (working at Disney would certainly be one of them) there's absolutely no justification for employers to have/demand so much background information of their applicants. Sadly the trend here is employers becoming even more invasive, doing things like demanding full access to social media accounts before even granting an interview.

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Friday, April 26, 2013 9:12 AM

Richard Bannister said:
Pre-employment background checks such as those typical in the United States are not common practice in Europe.

It seems to be a matter of faith that "whatever is good for business is good for all of us." Fuel barges exploding/ablaze on the Mobile River; "dirty oil" spill near Houston that made its way into the Gulf; West, TX fertilizer plant explosion; Mayflower, AR oil spill; we still have an ongoing spill from Hurricane Ivan (2004)! Employees are afforded no more protection than the environment (see: Right-to-Work legislation). If anything, the US is likely to serve as a cautionary tale on the excesses of industry and the costs of ultimate deregulation...

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Friday, April 26, 2013 10:00 AM

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is another example, too!

I'm okay with background checks. I think employers should have a right to know who they are hiring. However...

There should be some context when it comes to your background. There are former convicts who have changed their ways and yet can't get hired because of something that happened 10 years ago. That is something that needs to change. How can someone make a better living for themselves if they can't get hired because of something that happened while they were younger and dumber?

And credit checks? I don't get that at all. I think that is way too invasive. I don't think credit checks correlate between the type of employee.

But this is 'Merica and we are free...

~Rob

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Friday, April 26, 2013 10:10 AM

CP Chris said:

For most jobs (working at Disney would certainly be one of them) there's absolutely no justification for employers to have/demand so much background information of their applicants.

You're kidding, right? Are you comfortable with a convicted sex offender interacting with your kids at a theme park? How would the employer have any way of knowing without a background check?

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Friday, April 26, 2013 4:13 PM

I'm pretty sure a paroled child molester would find themselves right back in jail as soon as they reported their new job to the parole officer.

That being said, I'm sure you wouldn't want a person that had been convicted of taking extra from the till to be anywhere near your tills.

Last edited by janfrederick, Friday, April 26, 2013 4:15 PM
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Friday, April 26, 2013 4:21 PM

When I worked for Universal in Orlando, the interview process took all day long, and the reason for that was the extensive background check. They needed me to remember every place I have ever lived in my entire life and when, which was extremely difficult for me. Uniformed guards fingerprinted me, which was my first time ever. It was very uncomfortable and invasive, but I understand why.

That was over a decade ago. Now that we are almost a Police state, I wonder if the background check process has gotten any worse?

I keep thinking about changing careers and moving to the public school system. I know that there is a background check involved there. I wonder if it is just as invasive.

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Friday, April 26, 2013 4:48 PM

I coached in a school system, 15 years ago, and even then they did the general background check and fingerprinting. That seems pretty typical.

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Monday, April 29, 2013 4:20 AM

Fun said:

CP Chris said:

For most jobs (working at Disney would certainly be one of them) there's absolutely no justification for employers to have/demand so much background information of their applicants.

You're kidding, right? Are you comfortable with a convicted sex offender interacting with your kids at a theme park? How would the employer have any way of knowing without a background check?

Notice I said they shouldn't be able to get so much info about the prospective employee. Obviously a little info, like the publicly available sex offender list, is fine. But as Rob said, there needs to be a sensible statute of limitations as to how long you can hold a mistake over someone's head. But things like credit checks, insane address history, demanding Facebook passwords, etc. are way overboard.

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Monday, April 29, 2013 10:23 PM

Your use of "so much" is the source of my misunderstanding.

I think a hiring decision based on criminal convictions should still be left up to the employer, regardless of how long ago something happened. We still need some laws about what things can't be considered, but these should only be things an applicant has no control over (race, age, etc.). Our legal system is the most basic test of someone's character. I don't need to know someone personally to know that if they have been convicted of theft, they aren't as trustworthy as someone who has not been convicted of theft. It's not perfect but most of the time there is a correlation.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013 10:47 AM

CP Chris said:
But things like credit checks, insane address history, demanding Facebook passwords, etc. are way overboard.

I don't know. If I'm hiring someone to work in my financial department, a credit check is a good way to find out if they know their stuff. If they can't keep their own finances in order, why should they be trusted with mine?

I agree that for jobs like cast member or burger flipper, a credit check is way overboard, but it definitely has it's place when determining the quality of a candidate for some positions.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013 2:36 AM

What's wrong with doing things the old fashioned way and just checking references? Then if they suck, or they obviously lied on their resume, then can them based on actual performance, not some preconceived notion that doesn't even come close to giving a complete picture of their history.

Perhaps someone's personal finances are a disaster due to medical bills (by far the leading cause of bankruptcy) or a messy divorce? Both of those are very common, yet have no bearing on whether or not someone can manage business finances, and those things certainly don't indicate someone is untrustworthy around money.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013 8:49 AM

A lot of companies look at references too. But typically they are taken with a grain of salt as few people list a reference unless they are pretty confident a good reference will be provided. Some companies will not provide references. Others only give basic info such as start/end dates, job title, etc. Fear of litigation.

Best reference from the employer's side is talking with someone you know well at a former company listed on an applicant's resume. More likely to get an honest assessment without fear of litigation because its not a formal process. Having a network of contacts can be very helpful in evaluating candidates.

I would expect that given the choice, employers would prefer having access to more info about potential employees. Doesn't mean its necessarily incredibly relevant in all circumstances or that it will even be considered.

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