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Tour Guides and Background Screening

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October 11, 2012 Return to News & Events

Tour Guides and Background Screening

As summer comes to a close one can reflect on adventures, travels, and vacations. Many trips over summer take people to popular tourist destinations. Picturesque landscapes, such as Sedona, Arizona, or big cities, such as New Orleans. Many of these traveler's hotspots have one thing in common: Tour Guides.

Be it on a bus or walking tour, or within a museum, tour guides provide a bit of the flavor and history of any given local.

A recent article came across the Internet discussing tour guides in New Orleans.

N.O. Tour Guides Ask Federal Judge To Bar City From Enforcing Licensing Requirements

It appears that several New Orleans tour guides are less than satisfied with that city's licensing requirements for their particular line of work.

Four New Orleans tour guides argued in federal court Thursday that the city's licensing requirements that they pass a history exam, drug test and criminal background check violate their rights to freedom of speech. City attorney Sharonda Williams argued the regulations protect tourists from being scammed or otherwise harmed.

While one can understand the artistic nature of being a tour guide given that the manner in which they provide and/or perform information for eager tourists as a First Amendment issue, one might raise an eyebrow as to the inclusion of background screening as unconstitutional.

"What the tour guides do is an expressive activity, like marching in a parade or street performing. Those are things protected by the First Amendment," said plaintiffs' attorney Matthew Miller of the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm that has challenged similar licensing requirements in Philadelphia and Washington.

Again, one can understand the argument stated above but the question remains: Background checks as unconstitutional?

All across the United States the argument continues as to what can and cannot be used within a background check, specifically with criminal background records and histories. Certain segments of the community suggest the use of criminal background records as discriminatory or, at least, viable in the use toward discrimination. Others argue that criminal records are a vital part of the hiring process both for paid and unpaid positions, such as tour guides. But the argument illustrated in the article cited appears more about licensing as a whole than anything else.

The design of licensing in most situations is to control the information the licensee provides to the public as well as their ability and/or qualification to provide such information within the parameters of the license. Long story short: A license allows an individual to conduct business within certain rules and regulations of safe and ethical public engagement.

Tour guides have to take the history test once, but they must submit a urine sample for a drug test and get their fingerprints taken for an FBI background check every two years to renew their license. Unlicensed tour guides can be punished with fines of $300 per infraction and up to five months in jail.

Background screening can only serve to benefit tourists and offer a measure of protection. After all, background screening is all about risk mitigation.

In the end, the use of criminal background records as part of a pre-employment or licensing process will remain in the news. And tour guides will still entertain tourists.

Ultimately this article highlights the need to use a qualified and established third-party background screening company. There are many unique in businesses today, from hotel operators to restaurant owners to tour guide companies, where the use of a third-party background screening company will assist in understanding the rules and regulations that govern a particular business. can help any company or organization with their background screening requirements. From industry to the tourist trade, has the experience and knowledge required to conduct background checks for any type of business.

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