Before Sunday’s terrorist attack in Florida, few Americans had heard of G4S, Omar Mateen’s British headquartered employer, which is the world’s largest global security firm, and employs more than 610,000 people in 110 countries.
In the United States alone, Reuters reported that G4S security guards stand watch over airports, water and power plants, nuclear facilities, immigration transportation and even, as in the case of Mateen, gated communities.
Since 2008, G4S Secure Solutions — the company’s American subsidiary — has received nearly $830 million worth of federal, state and local government contracts, including for the Department of Homeland Security, according to the SmartProcure database. Its private clients include Google and J.P. Morgan Chase.
News that the gunman who killed 50 people in a packed gay nightclub in Orlando was a G4S employee wiped almost £200 million ($282.80 million) off the company on Monday, but some financial analysts said they expect little long-term damage to the company. Indeed, the attack could increase growth in the private security industry, they said.
“Individual major security incidents have rarely had any long-term effect on the specific companies that may be connected,” said Jeff Kessler an analyst for Imperial Capital. “They do serve as a strong backdrop for the industry revenue growth – as the world is perceived as ‘less safe.’”
G4S made headlines in 2012 when it announced it could not provide the promised 10,400 security guards only two weeks before the London Olympics. The announcement wiped $1 billion off its market value and the British government had to draft in thousands of troops as reinforcements.
Daniel Gilroy, a former co-worker of Mateen at G4S, said he repeatedly complained to his supervisor about Mateen’s behavior, which included Mateen bombarding Gilroy with as many as 30 text messages a day, some of which made death threats.
“Everything he said was toxic,” Gilroy told the Florida Today, “and the company wouldn’t do anything. This guy was unhinged and unstable. He talked of killing people.”
The company said in a statement that it had “no record of any complaint by Mr. Gilroy about Mr. Mateen,” and that Gilroy said in June 2015 after leaving the company that his co-workers were “good men and women.”
Separately, the company said it had conducted two screenings of Mateen, once when he was hired in 2007 and again in 2013. Neither brought up anything of concern.
As part of his screening for G4S, Mateen underwent a psychometric test, an ID verification test, and a criminal record check, among other measures.
The company re-screens 15 percent of its employees in North America each year, and when Mateen moved to a new role in 2013, the company updated his criminal records check, a spokesman said.
In 2013, G4S learned that Mateen had been questioned by the FBI, but the company was unaware of a subsequent FBI interview of Mateen in 2014, the company said. The company declined to comment on how it found out about the FBI investigation in 2013.
Legal experts who have represented security firms say establishing liability against employers can be difficult. Proving a company should have known an employee posed a foreseeable risk is hard to do unless specific threats have been made.
Family members of victims killed in a 2013 shooting rampage at the Washington Naval Yard sued HP Enterprise Services, part of Hewlett-Packard Co., and its subcontractor the Florida firm The Experts, which had hired the gunman as a technology contractor at the yard.
“Something like this happens and it’s natural for human beings to want someone to be held accountable, but the law has very stringent requirements for that type of accountability … especially in situations like this where you have someone doing something that is extraordinarily aberrant,” said Jeffrey McFadden, a Washington D.C.-based attorney representing The Experts in the Naval Yard case.
The companies filed motions to dismiss that case in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., which are still pending.
If a company fires an employee based on non-specific complaints from co-workers, the employee could also sue, claiming the dismissal was discriminatory, said Clifford Ingber, an attorney in Connecticut who has represented security guard companies since the 1980s.