Backgrounds Online Blog

  • Walmart Hit With A Huge FCRA Lawsuit

    February 12, 2019
    Around five million people are participating in a class action lawsuit that alleges the retailer violated federally mandated background check laws.
    Backgrounds Online | February 12, 2019


    Around five million people are participating in a class action lawsuit that alleges the retailer violated federally mandated background check laws.

    About The Case

    Walmart was accused of allegedly violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) during their background screening process. A class action lawsuit stated the retailer “willfully included extraneous information” in their disclosure document.

    The case is titled Pitre v. Walmart Stores, Inc. In January 2019, it was officially certified by a California court, which means it is allowed to proceed. Randy Pitre, lead plaintiff in this suit, suggested that Walmart “failed to provide adequate notice of the consumer report as well as failed to secure legal authorization to obtain it.”

    In addition to Pitre, the court approved two other class representatives for this case.

    Federal Law For Disclosures

    According to allegations in the lawsuit, Walmart obtained consumer reports on job seekers without first receiving proper authorization. The retailer is accused of including extraneous content in their disclosure.

    The FCRA stipulates that a disclosure must be a standalone document that is clear, concise and does not contain any additional language. This document may not have confusing or verbose text. Pitre stated that Walmart’s disclosure contains both confusing language and content that is prohibited by federal law.

    Along with a disclosure, the FCRA stipulates that candidates must receive a standalone authorization form and a document known as A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This document notifies individuals of their rights regarding how consumer reports can be obtained and utilized. The suit against Walmart also alleges that the retailer did not provide this and therefore failed to properly inform applicants of rights that are granted by federal law.

    What Employers Should Know

    The lawsuit against Walmart is not the only one that has recently been filed against an employer for allegedly failing to follow federal background screening laws. Numerous high-profile corporations have been sued for similar alleged violations. Situations like these, however, can easily be avoided.

    Every employer should know that the FCRA stipulates consumers must receive and agree to a standalone disclosure. This document informs the consumer that an employer wishes to run a background check on them. Before a background screening can begin, the consumer must also receive a standalone authorization and provide their consent. Both documents must not contain any unnecessary or ambiguous language. This includes waivers, state laws or even administrative statements.

    By ensuring that every candidate you are considering for employment receives FCRA compliant documents, you can protect your business from class action lawsuits like the one against Walmart. To be even safer, best policy is to interview candidates, determine which person or people you are considering and only then initiate a background screening. Some states also require employers to extend a conditional job offer before running a background check. Learn more about state employment laws that may affect you.

    Backgrounds Online provides a packet that contains a sample disclosure, authorization and the required Summary of Rights document. We also offer a service that empowers our clients to have candidates submit the information we need to run a background check directly to us. By taking advantage of this service, employers can save time, prevent data entry errors and rest assured that the people they screen see and authorize all required relevant compliance documents.

    If you have questions about background screening or how we can help improve your process, please contact us today. Our highly trained and educated team is available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • How An Unqualified Man Landed A Pilot Job​

    February 05, 2019
    A UK man was employed as a pilot based on his resume. When it was further reviewed, the airline realized he should not have been hired.
    Backgrounds Online | February 05, 2019


    A UK man was employed as a pilot based on his resume. When it was further reviewed, the airline realized he should not have been hired.

    The Full Story

    Nigel Francis-McGann applied for a job at West Atlantic in the UK. His resume said he was currently working as a pilot and included contact information for a professional reference. Based on this, McGann was offered the position. He accepted.

    After he was hired, an item on McGann’s resume raised a red flag. The reference he provided was for Desilijic Tiur. It is unknown whether or not anyone attempted to contact this reference, but if so they would not have had any luck. It was eventually revealed that Desilijic Tiur is actually the name of a character from Star Wars … better known as Jabba The Hut.

    McGann was offered and accepted an opportunity to resign. Afterwards, he sued the airline for back pay.

    Incomplete Background Screening Practices

    When the airline was considering McGann as a candidate, he did not go through a proper screening process. A comprehensive background check can include position focused searches that help an employer determine if a candidate is properly qualified. If a thorough screening was conducted, the airline would have been able to find out if McGann had the proper license or actually worked as a pilot for another airline.

    A reference check could have been included during the background investigation. Even if the person who handled the verification remained unaware that the name they were given belonged to a fictional character, the fact that they were unable to make contact would have been explained to the employer.

    How Verifications Help

    Verifications can do more than confirm whether or not a reference is legitimate. They can also be used to:

    · Acquire professional opinions about a person’s character, work ethic and related details from people who know and likely worked with the candidate.
    · Confirm whether or not an applicant has a required license or credential.
    · Review the individual’s employment history.
    · Validate a person’s educational achievements including what school they attended, when/if they graduated, degrees earned and other relevant facts.

    Protecting Your Business And Customers

    It’s been proven again and again: people are not always honest on their resumes. Some embellish a little. Others completely misrepresent themselves - such as wrongfully claiming to have held a position. This is often done to help a person get a job for which they are not qualified or eligible.

    Running background checks on job seekers helps employers learn what is and is not accurate on a resume. Businesses can also use these reports to help protect themselves, their staff and customers. A criminal background check informs the recipient if a candidate has a violent or otherwise serious conviction.

    If your business or organization needs background checks to verify someone is qualified for a position, find out if someone has a reportable conviction and get the facts your need to make informed business decisions, please contact us. Our experienced team is here Monday – Friday, 5am to 6pm to answer questions and assist you with your background screening process.

  • Colorado Is Considering A Ban The Box Law​

    January 29, 2019
    Two attempts to pass similar bills failed. This bill, which is intended to help people with a criminal history to be seen by employers, is expected to be approved.
    Backgrounds Online | January 29, 2019


    Two attempts to pass similar bills failed. This bill, which is intended to help people with a criminal history to be seen by employers, is expected to be approved.

    About The Proposed Bill

    According to an article in a Colorado-based publication, nearly 1.8 million residents of the Centennial state have criminal records. For many of them, finding employment might be difficult. One reason for this could be that some employers place questions about criminal records on job applications. If an applicant has ever been convicted, they are asked to check a box.

    People who check this box are unlikely to receive consideration. Employers tend to discard these applications without reviewing factors such as whether or not the person is qualified, if the conviction was for something minor or how long ago the offense occurred.

    To help residents who have minor and/or outdated criminal records, the proposed bill seeks to prohibit Colorado employers from asking questions about arrests or convictions on applications. A member of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy who supports this bill wrote a memo that said many people who have a record “later deal with perpetual unemployment and income instability for themselves and their families.”

    The proposed bill is intended to help people who have a criminal history be seen by employers. This can be beneficial on both sides. Job seekers gain more opportunities to find work. Employers enjoy a larger pool of applicants. Proponents of Ban the Box laws believe they are good for the community because they help lower crime rates and recidivism.

    Additional Requirements For Colorado Employers

    This bill also seeks to disallow employers from writing job descriptions that suggest people with criminal histories may not apply. Exceptions would be made for positions in which applicants are automatically disqualified for any type of conviction. Such provisions are common for law enforcement and positions that deal with vulnerable populations including children or the elderly. Otherwise, this would stand for most job openings in the private and public sectors.

    While there are multiple Ban the Box laws throughout the county, they vary in scope and detail. The Colorado bill may create additional requirements that employers must follow to remain compliant. Our team will watch the progression of this bill. If it passes, you can learn all the relevant details in our State Law section.

    Previous Ban The Box Attempts

    The Colorado legislature presented similar bills in 2016 and 2017. Both were dismissed by the Senate. Due to a notable number of Senate turnovers during the 2018 elections, however, officials in Colorado believe the third attempt will likely be successful.

    If the bill passes, Colorado would join multiple states that have passed Ban the Box laws. It was filed by Representatives Leslie Herod and Jovan Melton. Herod said this of their efforts: “All we’re trying to do is ensure that people aren’t automatically screened out for a mistake they made in their past and that they’ve paid their time for. This will allow them to sit next to an employer one-on-one and say, ‘Here’s what I did in my past, here’s who I am now and here’s how I plan to move forward.’ Ban the Box will give them that opportunity.”

    Takeaway For Employers

    Ban the Box and other “Second Chance” laws are becoming increasingly common throughout the United States. Even if no law is active where you operate, best practice is to be ahead of the curve and follow some of the commonly issued regulations. These include not asking about criminal records on applications, always running criminal background checks on candidates you are considering, and evaluating convictions individually to determine if they are serious and relevant enough to disqualify the person.

    Ban the Box laws encourage employers to run comprehensive background checks. They typically require employers to do this following an interview or conditional job offer. When you have applicants you need to screen, please contact us. Our experienced team can help you build background check packages that are perfectly customized for every position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm.

  • Shelby County Schools To Run Ongoing Background Checks

    January 22, 2019
    Every employee at Shelby County Schools in Tennessee will be asked to approve a background screening to continue their employment.
    Backgrounds Online | January 15, 2019


    Every employee at Shelby County Schools in Tennessee will be asked to approve a background screening to continue their employment.

    The New Policy For SCS

    The office of General Counsel for Shelby County Schools (SCS) sent an email to all active employees. It began by explaining that several new laws were passed during the 2018 legislative session. Among them was a bill that requires teachers and other school employees to have background checks run on them every five years.

    Public reaction to this law has been favorable. It is intended to protect children throughout Shelby County by helping to ensure that no one with a serious criminal record is allowed to work with students. Prior to 2000, potential employees were not required to pass a background check.

    A district official released a statement about the new law. "Shelby County Schools is committed to abiding to all laws and policies to ensure the safety of our students and employees. For this reason, we notified all SCS employees about the recently enacted Tennessee Code Annotated 49-5-413(a) requiring all employees with proximity to children be fingerprinted at least every five years. As the process begins, we will follow all appropriate laws and policies and proceed as necessary noting that information about an employee's criminal records will be kept confidential and used only for the purpose for which it was intended."

    TN State Law Requires Background Checks

    Ongoing background screenings for school employees are mandated by state law. Tennessee’s Public Chapter 1006 says that in addition to background checks being run when a person is applying for work at SCS, new criminal checks must be run every five years. This is for any employee who works “in close proximity to students” including teachers, custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

    This law was put into effect on July 1, 2018. It requires every local board of education and governing body of a charter school to adopt the new background screening policy for all employees, contract workers and volunteers. Background screening will begin in January 2019.

    Background Checks At Other Schools

    Tennessee is not the only location that is implementing laws for running ongoing background checks on school employees. Among the most notable instances is found in Chicago. After an investigation revealed more than 500 cases of juvenile abuse over a ten-year period, the Chicago Public School District ran new background checks on everyone who worked for them. When this process was completed, the district terminated relationships with hundreds of employees, volunteers and vendors.

    More schools are likely to follow and start ongoing background screenings for all workers. Doing so is a simple but effective way to help create a safe workplace, protect students and show the community that school districts are performing due diligence to create a maintain a secure environment.

    Best Practice

    Every employer could learn a valuable lesson from SCS. Most businesses and organizations run background checks before hiring or contracting with someone, but not all do ongoing checks to follow up. Running annual criminal checks empowers an employer to see if someone on their staff incurs a violent, sexual or otherwise serious conviction. It is an efficient way to demonstrate a continuous commitment to safety.

    If you are not currently running ongoing criminal monitoring on the people who represent your brand, it’s easy to get started. Backgrounds Online provides this service with searches on the National Criminal Database, Sex Offender Registry and Terrorist Watch List. Learn more about criminal monitoring or contact us for assistance.

  • UPS Will Pay $4.9M To Settle A Discrimination Lawsuit

    January 15, 2019
    The delivery company was sued for religious discrimination. They agreed to settle the case with a large payout.
    Backgrounds Online | January 15, 2019


    The delivery company was sued for religious discrimination. They agreed to settle the case with a large payout.

    About The Lawsuit

    United Parcel Service (UPS) was accused of utilizing practices that discriminate against some religious groups. They allegedly have policies about personal appearance that “exclude Muslims, Sikhs, Rastafarians and other religious groups from equal participation and advancement in the workforce.”

    The case was brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Elizabeth Fox-Solomon took the lead and stated that UPS does not allow male supervisors or drivers to have beards or grow their hair past the collar. Such policies do not accommodate certain religious practices and were therefore deemed discriminatory.

    According to the EEOC, these practices have been active since 2005. As a result, UPS has allegedly refused to hire or promote numerous individuals who had long hair or beards due to their religious beliefs. The EEOC further alleged that the only positions available to these individuals included non-supervisory jobs that do not have any customer contact.

    A lawsuit against UPS was initially filed in July 2015. It claimed that the delivery company violated the Civil Rights Act which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs. The only exception to that law is if doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer. This was not considered to be the case for UPS.

    Outcome

    An attorney for UPS said: "For far too long, applicants and employees at UPS have been forced to choose between violating their religious beliefs and advancing their careers at UPS.” The EEOC hoped their suit would cause the delivery company to change their allegedly discriminatory policies.

    After a three-year case, UPS agreed to a $4.9 million settlement. Participants in the class action suit include former applicants and employees who were allegedly discriminated against while on the job or attempting to procure employment.

    UPS also agreed to accommodate applicants and employees based on their religious beliefs and practices. They will provide training for individuals who seek supervisory positions or jobs that involve contact with the public. Going forward, UPS will also periodically report to the EEOC about their ongoing efforts. The EEOC’s Fox-Solomon stated that she appreciates the steps UPS is taking to update and revise their internal policies.

    Takeaway For Employers

    It is a violation of federal law to discriminate against applicants or employees based on their religion or other protected factors. Every employer is encouraged to review their hiring and employment policies with legal counsel to help ensure they are not discriminatory in any way. Having policies that discriminate against people because of their religion, gender, ethnicity and other factors could lead to costly lawsuits and negative publicity.

    An important step towards ensuring your hiring policies are fair is to have consistent background screening practices for every candidate or employee. If you need help creating background check packages that are fair, transparent and comprehensive enough to help you make informed hiring decisions, please contact us. Our highly trained team is available to answer questions and assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Be Prepared For Background Screening In 2019​

    January 08, 2019
    Before hiring in Q1, make sure you’re aware of and prepared for new laws and best practices you should be following.
    Backgrounds Online | January 08, 2019


    Before hiring in Q1, make sure you’re aware of and prepared for new laws and best practices you should be following.

    2019 Best Practices

    It is imperative to keep up with current employment laws. Even if certain laws aren’t in place where you operate, they could be soon. It’s helpful to prepare in advance. Some best practices for 2019 include:

    · Don’t ask about convictions on applications. While it’s essential to run comprehensive background checks to see if any candidates have serious criminal records, it’s best to wait until after an initial interview or conditional job offer.
    · Consider convictions individually. If a background check shows a reportable conviction, consider how long ago it occurred, whether or not it is relevant to the position and if the person might actually pose a risk to your business.
    · Don’t ask about salary history. In an effort to reduce discriminatory wage gaps, numerous states have banned the practice of asking how much a person makes and/or using a candidate’s salary history to determine what compensation to offer.
    · Screen regularly. You wouldn’t hire someone without running a background check. It is equally important to start ongoing criminal monitoring so you know if an employee incurs a new conviction.

    Don’t Forget The Basics

    While ensuring you are compliant with new and upcoming laws, take a moment to refresh your memory about the basics. Noteworthy employment laws include:

    · Start with a disclosure and authorization. Before running a background check, you must provide a standalone disclosure that informs the person of this intent. You must also have the person sign a written authorization form. Both documents are to be clear and concise. They may not contain any other content, such as liability waivers, job requirements or even administrative statements.
    · Follow the adverse action process. If the results of a background check cause you to consider not hiring a person, you must follow the federally mandated procedure first.
    · Do not discriminate. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission prohibits discrimination against consumers based on gender, ethnicity, age and other protected factors.
    · Practice fairness. If you run a comprehensive background check on one person; run it on other applicants for the same position. Always start the background screening process at the same point for each candidate. Make sure your hiring policies are fair, transparent and consistent.

    Document Your Policies

    We suggest this frequently: document your hiring and background screening policies. Follow them consistently. These policies should explain how your process works, when you run background checks, what types of adverse information you are looking for and what you will do if any is found.

    Having these policies - and making them available to everyone involved in the hiring process - can help protect you in the event of a lawsuit. You can use them to show you have fair, compliant policies that each person is expected to follow. Before finalizing this document, have it reviewed and approved by legal counsel.

    On-Demand Workers

    The on-demand market is booming. Millions of Americans are working full or part-time in the gig industry. If your organization hires on-demand workers, it is important to run background checks on every candidate you consider. While they may not technically be employees, they do represent your brand and they fall under the employment category recognized by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

    On-demand workers often have direct access to consumers. This can be from offering rides, delivering products or performing tasks inside a customer’s home. It is crucial to background screen these candidates and to run ongoing criminal monitoring. This shows you are performing due diligence and taking steps to protect the public.

    Watch For New State Laws

    January typically comes with numerous new laws that affect employment. However, laws can be passed and implemented at any time. As you go through 2019, be aware of any upcoming bills that might impact you.

    To help, Backgrounds Online maintains a State Laws section on our website. Visit it periodically to watch for new and upcoming laws of which you should be aware.

    Contact Us For Assistance

    At Backgrounds Online we think of ourselves as your partner. We provide educational resources, compliant forms and fully customizable background check packages to help your hiring and compliance efforts.

    If you have questions about anything related to background screening, please contact us. Our team is highly trained and experienced. We are here to assist you via phone, chat or email Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT. Happy New Year!

  • A Man With An Attempted Murder Charge Was Hired As A Teacher​

    January 02, 2019
    After a Chicago resident was employed by the Lyons School District, it was revealed he had pending charges for allegedly shooting someone seven times.
    Backgrounds Online | January 02, 2019


    After a Chicago resident was employed by the Lyons School District, it was revealed he had pending charges for allegedly shooting someone seven times.

    The Situation

    A Chicago-based school was considering six candidates for a teaching position. Each person was evaluated and a man named Andres Rodriguez was selected. After he was brought on, the Chicago Times ran an article that questioned the district’s decision.

    According to the article, Andres is facing a pending murder charge. He allegedly shot and killed a man during a traffic dispute. The author suggested that Andres should not have been placed in a teaching position. After the article was published, the district reportedly let Andres go.

    Was He Background Screened?

    Before offering Andres the job, the district ran a fingerprint-based background check. It did not return any information about the murder charge. This data was omitted because the case is still pending. A fingerprint report only includes details about convictions.

    The Lyons School District automatically excludes candidates who have certain types of convictions. This includes sexual assaults, drug charges and violent felonies. Job seekers can also be rejected if they have violent pending charges. When the district selected Andres, they were presumably unaware of the case against him.

    Limitations Of Fingerprint Checks

    While fingerprint-based background checks can return pertinent information, they do not contain details about pending charges. If they did, then the Chicago school district would have seen that Andres stood accused of attempted murder. This would likely have been a major factor in their decision.

    Fingerprint-based reports do not provide some essential components that can be found in a comprehensive background check. This includes employment verifications and references. A Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA), such as Backgrounds Online, can conduct interviews with previous employers, professional references and others to display a deeper picture of the candidate. CRAs can also provide details about pending felony charges, a person’s educational history and other data that can be used for employment-related decisions.

    Andres’ History

    When he applied for a job with Lyons School District, Andres had reportedly been let go from two previous positions. Both were said to be due to alleged criminal activities. Andres had been named in a criminal stalking case. His lawyer was able to get those charges dropped and avoid a conviction.

    Andres provided five references when he applied for the teaching position in Chicago. Among them was the lawyer who helped with his earlier charges. During the hiring process, Principal Don Jones contacted three of those references. Whether or not the lawyer was among them, or any of the allegations against Andres were discussed, remains unknown.

    Reaction To The Hire

    A member of the district’s board of education spoke out against this hire. He stated: “They failed to do the minimum. If I’m getting a job for anything…that company has to trust me, so they have to call me and call the previous places of employment.”

    When filling out his application, Andres indicated that he had never “failed to be rehired, been asked to resign a position, resigned to avoid termination, or terminated from employment.” Had the Lyons School District used the services of a CRA to follow-up on Andres’ previous employers, they could have learned one had recommended he be terminated and made ineligible for re-hire.

    Parents and students in that Chicago community were appalled to learn about this hire. The situation received so much attention that it was addressed by Chicago State Senator Martin Sandoval. Based on this case, the Senator is creating a proposal to strengthen background screening policies for school districts. The proposed legislation is said to include: “changes to background checks and language that will allow the agency to temporarily suspend a license before a conviction is made.”

    Establishing Comprehensive Background Check Policies

    Hiring someone who has a violent criminal history or is facing pending charges for a serious crime can have a damaging affect. It can cause the public to stop trusting your brand and lead to embarrassing situations for your business or organization.

    When hiring employees, contractors or volunteers, it is essential to run a background check. This can include a variety of criminal records checks by county, state and nation; employment verifications; reference checks and more.

    If you need assistance putting together background screening packages that will help you make informed decisions, show you are performing due diligence and demonstrate that you are taking steps to protect people who rely on you, then please contact us. Our team is ready to assist with all of your background screening needs Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Amazon Accused Of Discriminatory Screening Policies​

    December 26, 2018
    Multiple delivery drivers were terminated; reportedly over outdated and irrelevant criminal convictions.
    Backgrounds Online | December 26, 2018


    Multiple delivery drivers were terminated; reportedly over outdated and irrelevant criminal convictions.

    Accusations Against Amazon

    A Boston-based civil rights group filed a complaint against Amazon. They say the online retailer implemented background screening policies that disproportionately hurt African-American and Latino drivers.

    According to the group, Amazon updated their policies to say that drivers with any type of criminal record are automatically disqualified from employment. The group asserts that this is unfair because millions of Americans have records and people of color are far more likely to be arrested. Therefore, people of certain ethnicities have a disproportionate number of convictions.

    Amazon’s policies have allegedly caused multiple drivers with positive track records to lose their jobs. Many of the affected individuals were minorities. Having discriminatory policies is in opposition to federal law. If this claim can be confirmed and Amazon does not make changes, the group will consider filing a lawsuit.

    Amazon’s Response

    A representative from Amazon reacted to the complaint. Spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman said: “Safety and customer trust are our top priorities, which is why we have always required delivery service providers to conduct comprehensive background checks for their employee drivers.”

    Cheeseman went on to say that their company code of conduct prohibits discrimination of any kind. She said their background screening policy is focused on “job-related criminal and motor vehicle convictions and does not consider race, gender, ethnicity, religion or other protected characteristics.”

    Best Practice For Considering Convictions

    There is a nationwide “Second Chance” movement in the United States to help people with criminal histories find employment. This is done by creating laws that give job seekers a foot in the door. The purpose is to allow people to be interviewed and have an opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications to prospective employers. To help reach this goal, current best practice is for employers to review convictions individually before determining if they might cause the applicant to be ineligible for hire.

    Employers are asked to consider factors such as how long ago an offense occurred, whether or not the person had additional convictions and if an offense is relevant to the position. Many convictions might not have any bearing on the subject’s eligibility to hold a job. Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice spoke out against the Amazon terminations: “Many of these records were ancient, decades old, and are being used now after individuals have paid their debt to society.”

    Takeaway For Employers

    It is essential to keep up with federal, state and local laws that cover hiring and background screening. Employers should be aware of second chance laws such as those that prohibit asking about convictions on job applications or require an individualized assessment for anyone who has a criminal record. Businesses and organizations that fail to comply with relevant laws could face fees and costly litigation.

    It’s equally important to note that employers are encouraged, and in some cases mandated, to run background checks on the candidates they are considering. These reports can help employers determine if a person is qualified and deemed a safe hire. While many convictions are minor and do not make a person ineligible most positions, hiring someone who has a violent, sexual or other serious conviction can be disastrous.

    If you need help setting up background screening packages that are compliant with relevant laws, please contact us. Our team is highly experienced, knowledgeable and here to help you from Monday through Friday, 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Petco To Pay $1.2 Million For Alleged FCRA Violations​

    December 18, 2018
    A class action suit claimed the retailer failed to provide a proper disclosure document or follow the required adverse action process.
    Backgrounds Online | December 18, 2018


    A class action suit claimed the retailer failed to provide a proper disclosure document or follow the required adverse action process.

    About The Lawsuit

    A class action suit alleged that Petco procured background checks without properly disclosing their intention to do so. It also claimed the retailer did not follow an adverse action process that is mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

    The case was called Feist v. Petco Animal Supplies, Inc. It was heard by Judge Marilyn L. Huff who stated: “All persons regarding whom Defendant procured or caused to be procured a consumer report for employment purposes during the period from May 1, 2014 through December 31, 2015. Included in the Settlement Class is a subclass consisting of those against whom Petco took an adverse action subsequent to procuring a consumer report and did not receive a pre-adverse action notification letter.”

    The Settlement

    In November 2018, the judge authorized a $1.2 settlement in favor of the plaintiffs. This decision did not come easily. It took a two-year court battle to reach this point. After deliberation, Petco agreed to pay the full amount.

    Despite the conclusion, Petco reportedly denies any wrongdoing. Regardless, this situation provides an important reminder that it is essential to always comply with the FCRA as well as relevant state and local laws.

    How The $1.2 Million Will Be Divided

    Participants in the class action suit were placed in two groups: the Disclosure Class and the Adverse Action Subclass. The settlement will offer the following payouts:

    · $20 for each member of the Disclosure Class.
    · $150 for each member of the Adverse Action Subclass.
    · The lead plaintiffs will receive $10,000 as an incentive award.
    · The remaining $430,000 will cover attorney fees and costs as well as a payment to the settlement administrator.

    What Employers Should Know

    The case against Petco serves as a reminder that every employer must provide a disclosure before running a background check on any person. This must be a standalone document that informs the recipient of the employer’s intention to run a background check on them. It must consist only of the disclosure and not have any additional or confusing content. Until the subject signs these documents, a background screening cannot begin.

    This case also demonstrates the importance of following the FCRA mandated adverse action process. Employers may choose to take an adverse action, such as not hiring a candidate, but only after completing a few steps. First, the person must receive a pre-adverse notice along with other required documents. The individual must then have time to dispute the results of their background check. If no dispute is filed, or if one is initiated but a reinvestigation shows the initial report was correct, then the employer may continue with the adverse action.

    Complying with federal, state and local laws is essential for every employer. One of the best ways to remain compliant is to fully document your screening policies, follow them consistently and work with a Consumer Reporting Agency that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners.

    Backgrounds Online provides sample disclosure and authorization forms for our clients. We also create educational resources that contain useful information about topics such as the adverse action process. If you have questions about running background checks on your applicants, employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. Every one of our team members who process background checks earns their FCRA Certification and is highly trained and knowledgeable. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • ​Hiring And Background Screening In New York​

    December 11, 2018
    New York employers should be aware of and compliant with laws that cover making conditional offers and running background checks on applicants.
    Backgrounds Online | December 11, 2018


    New York employers should be aware of and compliant with laws that cover making conditional offers and running background checks on applicants.

    Making An Offer

    After reviewing a resume and conducting an interview, a New York employer may choose to extend a conditional job offer. This is commonly done via a letter. When composing that letter, it is important to ensure the purpose is clear and the content cannot be construed as a contract or agreement to hire. These letters can include:

    · Details about the position including the title and potential start date.
    · A statement that says employment is “at will” if the person is hired.
    · Relevant contingencies, such as the offer is dependent on the results of a background check.
    · Whether or not employment would be subjected to specific terms that will be listed in an agreement document.

    The offer letter can also include details about potential compensation, other benefits, time off and related information. However, it should be clear that these are not promises made to the applicant.

    Items To Omit From An Offer Letter

    New York employers should also be aware of certain things that should not be in a conditional offer letter. A few include:

    · Content that implies an official offer is being made.
    · Guarantees of specific bonuses or other earnings.
    · Language that implies the letter is a contract.
    · Statements such as “we look forward to having you on our team.”
    · Anything that contradicts the fact that a background check must be run and reviewed before a hiring decision occurs.

    Running Background Checks

    Every employer must abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and relevant state or local laws that cover hiring and background screening where they operate. New York employers should be aware of a group of laws known as the NYC Acts. They include the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), the New York City Fair Chance Act (NYCFCA), the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) and the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act (SCDEA).

    The NYSHRL allows New York employers to run background checks on applicants after extending a conditional offer. It also defines what types of information can and cannot be used when making hiring decisions:

    · Arrests that did not result in a conviction cannot be considered.
    · Employers may only rescind a conditional offer due to a conviction if it has relevance to the position or hiring the person would create an unreasonable risk to property or the safety of others.
    · Before denying employment, the employer must first perform an assessment using the guidelines established by Article 23-A of the New York Corrections Law.

    The NYCFCA states that employers may rely on the results of a background check to help them determine whether or not to hire a candidate. Before denying employment, they must first provide:

    · A pre-adverse notification that explains an adverse action is being considered.
    · A copy of the document A Summary Of Your Rights Under The FCRA.
    · A copy of the inquiry.
    · A copy of the background check.
    · A copy of Article 23-A
    · A copy of the completed Article 23-A analysis.

    The NYCHRL stipulates that employers may not inquire about an applicant’s salary history. This is to help eliminate wage discrimination based on gender or other protected factors.

    The SCDEA prohibits New York employers from running credit history reports unless one is required based on the type of position.

    Staying Compliant

    Whether you operate in New York or anywhere else in the nation, you must comply with the FCRA and relevant state laws. Keeping up with them all can be difficult. The team at Backgrounds Online is dedicated to providing educational resources that inform you about relevant laws so you can be aware and plan for compliance.

    If you have questions about your screening policies, what type of background checks you need to run for your industry or anything else related to the background check process, please contact us. Our experienced team is ready to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Chicago Public Schools District Parts Ways With Hundreds Of Workers

    December 04, 2018
    After a disturbing study showed many workers had not been screened, the district ran background checks on all employees, vendors and volunteers.
    Backgrounds Online | December 04, 2018


    After a disturbing study showed many workers had not been screened, the district ran background checks on all employees, vendors and volunteers.

    The Results Of Chicago’s Background Checks

    In July of 2018, the Chicago Public School District (CPSD) announced they would run background checks on every adult employee. This was prompted by an article published by the Chicago Times that revealed more than 500 cases of juvenile abuse had been reported during a ten-year period. The article went on to say that this tragedy was able to occur because the CPSD did not have an effective background check process in place.

    The district decreed that new background checks would be mandatory for everyone who works at a Chicago public school. After going through this screening process, a shocking number of people were removed from their positions. According to a follow-up article in the Chicago Times, terminations included:
    · 9 full-time teachers;
    · 35 classroom aides;
    · An unspecified number of hourly or substitute workers;
    · More than 100 volunteers;
    · Around 184 vendors, most of whom were custodial staff.

    More than 25 coaches are under further investigation due to information found in their background checks. In addition, 124 employees are barred from working because they have not yet authorized their background checks, which must occur before those screenings can begin.

    Next Steps For Chicago Public Schools

    According to the Chicago Tribune, over 68,000 employees, vendors and volunteers have been authorized to report for duty at various public schools. As people apply for jobs in the district, they will also need to go through the background check process before being approved. The district learned a valuable lesson about the need to have comprehensive background screening policies in place and follow them at all times.

    While this situation led to some positive outcomes, not everyone is satisfied. The President of the Chicago Teachers Union stated that it has been “Bitterly disappointing that CPSD has essentially locked us out of the process to work collaboratively with CPSD to make student safety paramount.” Moving forward, the union hopes to receive information regarding the background checks that are run on all applicants.

    A Call For Annual Background Checks

    After the CPSD ran background checks on existing workers, they were lauded for their efforts. However, there is still concern that the district does not yet have recurring screening policies. Raise Your Hand, an education advocacy group, wants more transparency regarding the district’s background screening policies. They do, however, understand that can be a sensitive subject due to privacy concerns.

    A representative of Raise Your Hand stated that the district needs to implement ongoing background screenings for existing employees. She was reported as saying: “Initial steps needed to be taken to close loopholes that have existed for decades on background checks and re-checking employees, as well as vendors.”

    Ongoing or annual screenings search for new convictions that a person may have incurred during the previous year. By running ongoing background checks, the CPSD could see if anyone who works at a public school received a conviction that makes them ineligible for continued employment.

    Takeaway For Employers

    A difficult lesson was learned by the CPSD. It is essential to run comprehensive background checks on everyone who will represent your business or organization. This includes employees, part-time staff, contractors and volunteers. If people who work on your behalf are found to have a violent, sexual or otherwise serious criminal conviction, it shows that you did not perform due diligence.

    Running background checks demonstrates that you are taking steps to hire qualified and eligible people who are trusted to represent your brand. Whether you are looking for full-time employees, part-time on-demand workers, volunteers or anyone else, it is critical to thoroughly screen each person before hiring or contracting with them.

    If your business or organization needs to bring on people to represent your brand, please contact us. Our experienced staff is highly trained and able to help put together background check packages that are ideal for all of your screening scenarios. We are available Monday – Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Uber Is Not Allwed To Operate In London

    November 27, 2018
    The High Court took issue with the rideshare company’s background screening and other policies.
    Backgrounds Online | November 27, 2018


    The High Court took issue with the rideshare company’s background screening and other policies.

    Why Uber Was Banned From London

    A judge in the London High Court heard a case in which cab drivers asked that Uber not be allowed to operate locally. The judge ruled in favor of the cab drivers. There were several reasons, but the most prominent was an issue with Uber’s reportedly insufficient background screening policies.

    After hearing both sides of the case, the judge agreed that there was cause for concern about the method Uber used to screen their drivers. It was noted that several of the company’s rideshare operators were found to have serious criminal convictions. The judge also expressed concern about the medical certificates drivers possess and some of the technology the company utilizes. This technology was said to have allegedly been used to help drivers evade law enforcement.

    Following this decision, an Uber spokesperson stated that this shows the world “London is closed to innovative companies.” The rideshare giant also submitted an appeal. Ultimately, Uber was told that they would not be given a license to operate in London. The CEO sent a message to his team that reportedly said:

    "While the impulse may be to say that this is unfair, one of the lessons I've learned over time is that change comes from self-reflection. So it's worth examining how we got here. The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation. Irrespective of whether we did everything that is being said about us in London today (and to be clear, I don't think we did), it really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours, where actions in one part of the world can have serious consequences in another.."

    Uber Had Been Issued A Temporary License

    Prior to this case, Uber had been granted a temporary license to operate in London. The license was issued by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot. It was later learned that her husband works for a strategy firm that has clients who invest in Uber. This link was enough to raise eyebrows and warrant further investigation.

    Chief Magistrate Arbuthnot stated that she was not aware of any connection between her husband and Uber. Other judges felt this was not a coincidence and reportedly believe the rideshare company has been “gravely misleading” them in their attempts to secure a license to operate. A spokesperson for the judiciary stated: “It is essential that judges not only are, but are seen to be, absolutely impartial.”

    Prior to receiving this temporary license, Uber had made at least one other attempt to be allowed to operate in London. The company had requested a license the year before but was denied.

    The Importance Of Running Comprehensive Background Checks

    We’ve seen stories about people who were hired at Uber and later found to have serious criminal convictions. Issues like that can create distrust in a service provider. They are a major part of the reason Uber was denied a license to operate in London.

    Background checks are an essential part of the hiring process. They help people make informed business decision, create a safe work environment and build trust with the public. Running comprehensive background reports shows you are performing due diligence and taking steps to protect your customers. Not running them can cause mistrust and even result in an inability to operate your business in sine preferred locations.

    Are your background screening policies strong enough to build trust? If not, or if you have questions about how to improve your screening process, please contact us. Our experienced team is available Monday – Friday from 5am to 6pm to assist you.