Backgrounds Online Blog

  • Hiring Remote Workers During The COVID-19 Pandemic​

    March 24, 2020
    To maintain operations and help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, many employers are building a remote workforce.
    Backgrounds Online | March 24, 2020

    To maintain operations and help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, many employers are building a remote workforce.

    A Telecommuting Staff

    As businesses around the globe develop plans on how to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, many are opting to employ remote workers. This may become even more common as social distancing policies spread throughout the United States and abroad.

    Human Resources professionals can oversee their entire hiring and onboarding process online. They conduct video interviews, use training software and request background checks from accredited Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs).

    Today’s technology empowers employers to find and hire people from other states and countries. These tools also make it easy to manage an entire workforce without the need for in-person contact. Employers can use them to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

    This might be a major change for many hiring managers. It is important to prepare for success.

    Interviewing Tips From Experts

    CNBC published an article about recruiting remote workers. They included some great interview tips from experts at Glassdoor and Modern Hire:

    Be Thorough. Review resumes and other relevant information in advance. Prepare questions for each candidate. Familiarize yourself with the program(s) you’ll use to conduct online interviews. Make sure the candidate’s resume (and any other documentation) is close by when you begin so you can reference it during your conversations.

    Avoid Distractions. All the participants in an interview will likely be at home. Before you begin, remove or shut down potential distractions such as cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices. Having a clear, quiet workspace will help ensure the proceedings are smooth and professional.

    Promote Your Brand. Give each candidate a consistent message about your brand, company mission and values. This will help them understand your operation and determine if they might be a good fit.

    Allow Time. It can be easy to miss pauses and other social cues when communicating online. Give people time to take in your questions or comments and respond.

    If conducting interviews online seems like a challenge, try a few practice runs with a colleague or friend first. With a little time and effort, this method of communication will become second nature.

    Background Screening Candidates

    During these difficult times, running background checks remains an essential part of the hiring process. Employers can request and review background reports:
    - Online
    - From their preferred Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
    - Via XML

    CRAs, such as Backgrounds Online, will continue to provide essential data that helps organizations build strong teams and maintain safe working conditions. It is important to note that some of the services CRAs utilize regularly are currently unavailable. To help you keep up with court closures and other circumstances that affect the entire background screening industry, please check our regularly updated blog entry: COVID-19: What To Expect From Backgrounds Online.

    We’re Here For You

    As we all attempt to navigate the many changes that are brought on by COVID-19, the team at Backgrounds Online remains dedicated to providing superior service and products. If you have questions about screening remote candidates or anything else related to background checks, please contact us for expert assistance.

  • COVID-19: What To Expect From Backgrounds Online​

    Last Updated: March 27, 2020
    We’re doing everything possible to provide essential screening services while keeping our team safe during this difficult time.
    Backgrounds Online | Last Updated: March 27, 2020

    Last Updated: March 27, 2020
    We’re doing everything possible to provide essential screening services while keeping our team safe during this difficult time.

    How Backgrounds Online Is Operating

    Like every business, we’re working hard to keep up with the rapid changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though we will be impacted, our goal is to continue to provide superior service, limit personal risks for our team and adhere to federal, state and local guidelines. We are currently:

    • Allowing members of our team to telecommute.
    • Monitoring the status of courthouses and third-party data providers.
    • Following all best practices recommended by the CDC and other reputable organizations.
    • Updating this blog entry as needed to keep you informed.

    Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Records Delayed

    Employees at the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Transportation (DMT) will work remotely until at least March 31, 2020. They will be unable to process motor vehicle record requests during that time.

    The DMT hopes to resumes standard processing of motor vehicle record requests on March 31.

    Current Court Closures

    New closures will be highlighted in yellow.

    County State Date of Closure Length of Closure
    Pulaski AR 03/16/2020 2 Weeks
    Sebastian AR 03/24/2020 Unknown
    Washington AR 03/24/2020 Unknown
    Alameda CA 03/17/2020 Through 04/07
    Calaveras - Delayed CA 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Contra Costa - Delayed CA 03/16/2020 Through 04/01
    El Dorado - Delayed CA 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Fresno - Delayed CA 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Humbolt CA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Lake CA 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Los Angeles - Delayed CA 03/17/2020 Through 03/19
    Marin - Delayed CA 03/17/2020 Through 04/07
    Orange - Delayed CA 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Riverside - Delayed CA 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Sacramento - Delayed CA 03/20/2020 Unknown
    San Bernardino - Delayed CA 03/17/2020 Through 04/02
    San Diego - Delayed CA 03/17/2020 Through 04/05
    San Francisco CA 03/17/2020 Through 04/15
    San Joaquin - Delayed CA 03/17/2020 Through 04/06
    San Luis Obispo - Delayed CA 03/20/2020
    San Mateo CA 03/17/2020 Through 04/07
    Santa Barbara CA 03/17/2020 Through 04/03
    Santa Clara CA 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Sierra - Delayed CA 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Solano CA 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Tehama CA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Tulare CA 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Ventura - Delayed CA 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Yolo - Delayed CA 03/17/2020 Unknown
    All Counties - Delayed CT 03/26/2020 Unknown
    District of Columbia DC 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Taylor FL 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Butts GA 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Clay GA 03/25/2020 2 Weeks
    Clayton - Delayed GA 03/16/2020 2 Weeks
    Clinch GA 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Cobb - Delayed GA 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Coffee GA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Columbia - Delayed GA 03/16/2020 2 Weeks
    Coweta - Delayed GA 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Fanin GA 03/17/2020 Through 04/02
    Greene GA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Gwinnett - Delayed GA 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Hancock GA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Haralson GA 03/19/2020 30 Days
    Henry GA 03/16/2020 2 Weeks
    Jefferson GA 03/17/2020 Through 04/02
    Johnson GA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Lawrence GA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Long GA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Lee - Delayed GA 03/19/2020 Unknown
    McIntosh GA 03/16/2020 30 Days
    Murray GA 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Newton GA 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Polk GA 03/17/2020 Through 04/16
    Putnam GA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Rabun GA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Randolph GA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Richmond - Delayed GA 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Spalding - Delayed GA 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Terrell GA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Treutlen GA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Washington GA 03/19/2020 Unknown
    All Counties - Delayed HI 03/24/2020 Through 04/20
    Cook - Delayed IL 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Hancock IL 03/24/2020 Unknown
    Bath KY 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Bullitt KY 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Boyd KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Boyle KY 03/18/2020 Through 04/01
    Butler KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Calloway KY 03/16/2020 2 weeks
    Carter KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Christian KY 03/26/2020 Unknown
    Clark KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Clay KY 03/24/2020 Unknown
    Clinton KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Crittenden KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Daviess KY 03/17/2020 Through 04/01
    Estill KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Floyd KY 03/17/2020 Through 04/01
    Graves KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Grayson KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Green KY 03/17/2020 Through 04/01
    Greenup KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Hancock KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Hardin KY 03/16/2020 3 weeks
    Harlan KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Harrison KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Hopkins KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Johnson KY 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Knott KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Knox KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Leslie KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Letcher KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Lincoln KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Magoffin KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Marion KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Marshall KY 03/16/2020 2 weeks
    Mason KY 03/17/2020 Through 04/01
    McCracken KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    McCreary KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    McLean KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Menifee KY 03/26/2020 Unknown
    Mercer KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Monroe KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Montogmery KY 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Morgan KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Muhlenberg KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Ohio KY 03/17/2020 Through 04/01
    Owen KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Pendleton KY 03/17/2020 Through 04/01
    Pike KY 03/26/2020 Unknown
    Powell KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Robertson KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Rowan KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Scott KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Simpson KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Spencer KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Taylor KY 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Trimble KY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Union KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Warren KY 03/17/2020 Through 04/01
    Washington KY 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Wayne KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Webster KY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Wolf KY 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Woodford KY 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Allen LA 03/18/2020 At least until 04/13
    Acadia LA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Bienville LA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Caldwell LA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Cameron LA 03/18/2020 Unknown
    Catahoula LA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Concordia LA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Franklin LA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Jefferson Davis LA 03/20/2020 Unknown
    La Salle LA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Livingston LA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Richland LA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    St. Helena LA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    St. James LA 03/23/2020 Unknown
    St. John the Baptist LA 03/23/2020 Unknown
    St. Mary - Delayed LA 03/24/2020 Unknown
    Vernon LA 03/25/2020 Unknown
    All Courts MA 03/16/2020 Through 04/06
    All Courts MD 03/16/2020 Unknown
    Eaton MI 03/17/2020 Through 04/06
    Delta MI 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Genesee MI 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Hillsdale MI 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Ionia MI 03/19/2020 Through 04/06
    Iosco MI 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Jackson MI 03/19/2020 Through 04/06
    Kalamazoo MI 03/17/2020 Through 04/06
    Lenawee MI 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Macomb MI 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Marquette MI 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Muskegon MI 03/17/2020 Through 04/06
    Oakland MI 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Oceana MI 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Roscommon MI 03/24/2020 Unknown
    Sanilac MI 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Tuscola MI 03/25/2020 Unknown
    Franklin MS 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Hancock MS 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Hinds - Delayed MS 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Itawamba MS 03/18/2020 Unknown
    Leake - Delayed MS 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Lee MS 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Leflore MS 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Monroe MS 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Panola MS 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Pike MS 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Prentice MS 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Tallahatchie MS 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Union MS 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Warren - Delayed MS 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Yellowstone MT 03/25/2020 Unknown
    All Courts NC 03/16/2020 30 days
    All Courts NJ 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Albany NY 03/18/2020 Unknown
    Cattaraugus NY 03/17/2020 Through 03/31
    Clinton KY 03/26/2020 Unknown
    Delaware NY 03/24/2020 Unknown
    Essex NY 03/23/2020 Through 04/06
    Franklin NY 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Greene NY 03/23/2020 Through 04/06
    NY OCA - Delayed NY 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Otsego NY 03/18/2020 Unknown
    Schenectady NY 03/17/2020 Through 03/20
    Schoharie - Delayed NY 03/17/2020 Through 03/31
    Tioga NY 03/24/2020 Unknown
    Tompkins KY 03/26/2020 Unknown
    Washington NY 03/19/2020 Unknown
    Wayne KY 03/26/2020 Unknown
    Yates NY 03/20/2020 Unknown
    Harrison OH 03/20/2020 Unknown
    All Courts PA 03/26/2020 Unknown
    Bradley TN 03/16/2020 Through 04/01
    Chester TN 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Cheatham TN 03/19/2020 Through 04/03
    Coffee TN 03/17/2020 Unknown
    Decatur TN 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Dickson TN 03/23/2020 Through 03/26
    Giles - Delayed TN 03/17/2020 Through 04/01
    Grundy TN 03/17/2020 Through 04/01
    Hardeman TN 03/23/2020 2 Weeks
    Hardin TN 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Henderson TN 03/16/2020 Through 04/06
    Henry TN 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Lake TN 03/19/2020 Through 04/01
    Lewis TN 03/18/2020 Unknown
    Loudon TN 03/16/2020 Through 04/01
    Madison TN 03/23/2020 Unknown
    McMinn TN 03/16/2020 Through 03/31
    Polk TN 03/16/2020 Through 04/01
    Robertson TN 03/19/2020 Through 04/01
    Sequatchie - Delayed TN 03/16/2020 Through 04/01
    Shelby - Delayed TN 03/27/2020 Unknown
    Stewart TN 03/16/2020 Through 04/01
    White TN 03/23/2020 Unknown
    Bailey TX 03/24/2020 Unknown
    San Augustine TX 03/24/2020 Unknown
    Shelby TX 03/24/2020 Unknown
    All Courts - Delayed VT 03/17/2020 Through 03/30
    All Courts WV 03/23/2020 Unknown

    Business Disruptions

    In addition to court closures, many businesses have temporarily shut down or decreased hours at this time. This can affect our ability to obtain verifications from employers and educational institutions.

    While it is not possible to create a list of businesses that are currently disrupted, if you submit a verification request that we are unable to complete, we will inform you as soon as possible.

    Screening Solutions

    When any service we utilize shuts down, we will notify all affected organizations and work with them to continue service with limited disruption. Our goal is to continue to provide comprehensive background screening services to you, our valued partners.

    Contacting Us

    Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we will endeavor to provide our high level of fast, friendly and professional service. You may contact us from 5am to 6pm PT via email and live chat.

    We are also available at 800-838-4804 from 7am to 4pm PT.

    If we have any changes to our hours of operation, we will update them here immediately.

    Thank You

    Thank you for your patience during this unprecedented situation.

    Stay safe and thank you for visiting Backgrounds Online.

  • A Kentucky Law Allows Residents To Expunge Criminal Records

    March 17, 2020
    State legislators passed a bill that creates new expungement opportunities for people with minor convictions.
    Backgrounds Online | March 17, 2020

    State legislators passed a bill that creates new expungement opportunities for people with minor convictions.

    About The Bill

    Kentucky House Bill 47 (HB47) states that under certain circumstances, people with non-violent Class D felonies may be eligible to expunge their criminal records. Residents are allowed to request this service five years after completing a period of incarceration or the terms of their probation or parole.

    HB47 states that any person who was convicted of either a single Class D felony or misdemeanor, or a series of Class D felonies and misdemeanors during one incident, may petition the court to have those records sealed after a specified timeframe. Before a request is approved, the court will ensure the offense was not violent or sexual and that the person was not convicted of another offense within the last five years. The Administrative Office of the Courts will keep a confidential index of expungement orders.

    Learn more about the bill.

    Support For Expungement Laws

    Mayor Steve Austin signed HB47 into law. He was quoted as saying: “We need good workers that, you know, maybe they’ve made a mistake five years ago, but they’re clear since then. We want to put those people to work.”

    Community leaders also supported this bill. They hope it will empower more Kentuckians to enter the workforce. Numerous companies in the state are looking for additional employees. By sealing old criminal records, more residents will become eligible and therefore likely to apply for those open positions.

    Second Chance Movement

    Kentucky is one of many locations in the United States that is passing laws to help ex-offenders. This is part of a larger Second Chance Movement that seeks to help people with minor or outdated criminal records find employment opportunities. We’ve seen numerous bills passed to help achieve that goal. Some of the most common features of these laws include:

    · Prohibiting employers from asking job seekers about criminal convictions until after an interview or conditional offer.
    · Creating opportunities for people to have criminal records sealed.
    · Asking employers to run individualized assessments of convictions to determine if they are relevant to a position or if they indicate an applicant might pose an undue risk.
    · De-criminalizing certain types of offenses.

    What Employers Should Know

    If you operate in an area where a Second Chance law is active, then you must be compliant. For example, employers in Kentucky should be aware that the passing of HB47 means more residents are likely to have their criminal records expunged. When that happens, those offenses can no longer be reviewed, considered or used as a factor while making business-related decisions.

    Organizations must follow federal and state laws when hiring and background screening employees or job seekers. One of the best ways to bolster your compliance efforts is to work with an accredited Consumer Reporting Agency like Backgrounds Online. We provide sample compliance forms and comprehensive background checks that only contain reportable records you can use to help make informed employment decisions.

    When you’re ready to background screen employees, applicants, volunteers or contractors, please contact us. Our experienced team is available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Proposed Bill Would Limit The Availability Of Credit Checks

    March 10, 2020
    The House Committee on Financial Services approved a bill that would prohibit employers from running credit reports in most scenarios.
    Backgrounds Online | March 10, 2020

    The House Committee on Financial Services approved a bill that would prohibit employers from running credit reports in most scenarios.

    About The Legislation

    House Bill 3614 (HB3614) would prohibit employers from running credit checks on most job seekers. The bill, known as the “Restricting Credit Checks for Employment Decisions Act” seeks to update current law which states: “A person may use a consumer report with respect to any consumer in which any information contained in the report bears on the consumer’s creditworthiness, credit standing, or credit capacity…” by adding the following stipulations:
    - The person is required to obtain the report by a federal, state, or local law.
    - The information contained in the report is being used with respect to a national security investigation.

    This bill also states that the costs involved in procuring a credit report may not be passed on to the consumer. Information contained in a report may not be shared with any individual unless doing so is required to "comply with any applicable federal, state, or local equal employment opportunity law or regulation."

    Read the bill.

    Are Credit Checks Detrimental?

    Representative Maxine Waters supports HB3614. She believes the use of credit checks can cause qualified people to be denied employment because of a financial hardship they endured in the past. Waters also thinks a person’s credit history has no bearing on their ability to succeed at a job.

    She commented: "People who have been unemployed for an extended period of time, and whose credit standing has been damaged because they were unable to pay their bills, cannot secure a new job to end their financial distress because prospective employers conduct credit checks as part of an application process."

    Opposition To The Bill

    Groups such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) are opposed to HB3614 because they feel its context is too broad. Both the President/CEO of SHRM and the Executive Director of the PBSA gave statements which suggested credit history policies should be designed to meet the needs of individual organizations when they are hiring for financial positions.

    Neil Bradley, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also chimed in on this subject. He said: “This legislation would make it more difficult for employers to review the backgrounds of prospective employees, which would make it more difficult to hire for sensitive positions or would otherwise delay the hiring process.”

    Credit checks are typically run on candidates who are applying for positions that would include access to company or partner funds or involve financial transactions with consumers. In this capacity, credit reports are a valuable tool that help employers make informed decisions about individuals who might have access to money or consumer credit information. Before running a credit check, an employer must be vetted to determine if they are qualified and have a permissible purpose.

    What Employers Should Know

    Currently, several states have restrictions on the use of credit reports for employment. If HB3614 is signed into law, employers should be aware that strong, nationwide restrictions will be implemented. Backgrounds Online will keep up with the status of this bill and provide relevant updates as they occur.

    You may not need to check an applicant’s credit history, but when you are bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers it is essential to run comprehensive background checks. The team at Backgrounds Online can help you build custom screening packages for any position. Contact us for expert assistance Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Can CO Employers Punish Workers For Off-Duty Marijuana Usage?​

    March 05, 2020
    A proposed bill would prohibit Colorado employers from taking adverse actions against employees who use marijuana on their own time.
    Backgrounds Online | March 05, 2020

    A proposed bill would prohibit Colorado employers from taking adverse actions against employees who use marijuana on their own time.

    About The Bill

    Colorado House Bill 20-1089 (HB20-1089) is not exclusively about marijuana usage, but that is a primary focus. It updates existing law to say: “It is a discriminatory or unfair employment practice for an employer to terminate the employment of any employee due to that employee's engaging in any lawful activity that is lawful under state law while off the premises of the employer during non-working hours.”

    Current law in Colorado disallows employers from taking adverse actions against employees who consume alcohol while off-duty. It does not make the same stipulation for marijuana usage, which is now legal in the state. Representative Jovan Melton introduced HB20-1089 to clarify that employers are prohibited from firing employees who partake in legal activities outside of the workday.

    What If The Activity Is Illegal On A Federal Basis?

    HB20-1089 goes further by specifying that it does not matter if an activity is illegal on a federal level. It states that by “clarifying that the prohibition on termination for lawful off-duty activities includes activities that are lawful under state law, even if not lawful under federal law, the statute will be brought into harmony with the requirements of the Colorado constitution.”

    Lawmakers hope the bill will be approved and implemented sometime in 2020. Read the full bill.

    Drug Screenings

    According to Melton, HB20-1089 would not affect pre-employment drug screenings. However, it will address random drug screens for existing employees.

    Employees will still be unable to use marijuana while on the job, but THC can remain in a person’s system for up to 30 days. Therefore, employers could be asked to omit tests for THC in their screenings or to disregard any positive results that are returned. Employers will still be allowed to test for other types of drug usage on applicants and employees.

    What Colorado Employers Should Know

    Employers in Colorado should be aware of HB20-1089 and prepared for compliance if the bill is signed into law. Should that happen, no employee can be terminated for using marijuana (or participating in other legal activities) outside of the workplace. While this law is specific to Colorado, every employer should be aware that marijuana-based laws are becoming more common. We recommend that organizations confer with legal counsel when finalizing their written hiring policies to ensure they address compliance with relevant laws.

    If you need background checks, drug screenings, ongoing monitoring or related services that help you make informed decisions and create safe workplaces, please contact us. Our team is highly experienced and makes efforts to keep up with laws that affect employers. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Michigan Is Considering Several Second Chance Bills​​

    March 03, 2020
    A proposed package of MI bills could create new opportunities for certain types of convictions to be expunged.
    Backgrounds Online | March 03, 2020

    A proposed package of MI bills could create new opportunities for certain types of convictions to be expunged.

    Criminal Expungement

    Legislators in Michigan submitted a package of six bills that would create new expungement laws for residents. The bills call for:

    · Automatic expungement of records for individuals who have up to four misdemeanors and two felonies when ten years have passed since sentencing, probation, parole or time in prison (whichever is the latest date). This only applies if the offenses are not assaultive and the person has not incurred any additional convictions.
    · Most traffic violations would be eligible for expungement after ten years. This excludes DUIs, accidents that resulted in death and other offenses.
    · Marijuana-related misdemeanors for offenses that have since been de-criminalized would become eligible for expungement.
    · People who have up to three non-violent convictions can be eligible to have up to two felonies and four misdemeanors expunged.
    · The amount of time that must pass for certain types of misdemeanors and felonies to become eligible for expungement could be shortened. For example:
    - Misdemeanors can be eligible after three years.
    - Felonies can be eligible after seven years.
    · Multiple offenses that occurred during “One Bad Night” may be eligible to be sealed. This means offenses which occur within 24-hours would be treated as a single felony if none were violent, involved weapons or resulted in more than ten years of incarceration.

    Representative Eric Leutheuser supports this package of bills. He said: “It’s one of those things that is truly and profoundly good. I think we could be making one of the most significant efforts in generations to help our fellow citizens gain fuller participation in our common life.”

    Juvenile Records May Be Sealed

    Michigan Senate Bill 681 (SB681) seeks to lower the age at which residents may have juvenile records sealed. Currently, people must wait until they are 18 to submit a request. These requests can be made one year after disposition or release from detention.

    The bill would eliminate that age requirement and allow people to submit requests one year after a period of court supervision ends. It also calls for records to be automatically sealed two years after court supervision ends or the individual becomes 18, whichever occurs later.

    SB681 lists specific criteria for what can and cannot be sealed. Read the full bill.

    Senate Bill 682 (SB682) seeks to automatically seal juvenile court records to everyone other than law enforcement agencies. If passed, it would go into effect in January 2021. Read the full bill.

    What Michigan Employers Should Know

    These second chance bills have strong support and are likely to be approved. Senator Jeff Irwin spoke in favor of these bills, saying: “Everybody deserves a second chance. When people make mistakes, especially when they are young, the criminal justice system should focus on rehabilitation and getting people back on track. We're making good progress on reforming the expungement system for adults and we ought to extend similar opportunities to people who committed their crimes as juveniles."

    If some or all of the bills referenced above become law, then employers in Michigan must adjust their hiring and background screening policies to ensure compliance. Criminal records that have been sealed or expunged cannot be considered for any employment-related decisions.

    Stay Compliant When Background Screening

    Backgrounds Online keeps up with laws that affect employers. Watch our site for details about new and changing laws where you operate. We also recommend creating and maintaining written policies that cover your entire hiring process. Have this documentation reviewed by legal counsel to make sure it covers all relevant laws.

    When you’re ready to run background checks, please contact us. Our background reports provide data you can use when hiring, promoting and making other essential business decisions. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • A Walmart Class Action Lawsuit Was Decertified

    February 27, 2020
    The retail giant faced a massive lawsuit for alleged FCRA violations, but the case was decertified in a federal court.
    Backgrounds Online | February 27, 2020

    The retail giant faced a massive lawsuit for alleged FCRA violations, but the case was decertified in a federal court.

    Allegations Against Walmart

    In February 2019, we reported that Walmart was being sued for alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The suit claimed that Walmart “willfully included extraneous information” in their disclosure document.

    This lawsuit represented more than 6.5 million plaintiffs. If Walmart had been found guilty of violating federal and California laws by providing improper disclosure documents to candidates, the employer could have been hit with huge fines.

    The Lawsuit Is Decertified

    The case, known as Pitre v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., was brought to a federal court in California. There were three primary plaintiffs, all of whom had authorized background checks and been hired. After the suit was initially certified by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, Walmart filed a motion to decertify, suggesting the claim lacked standing.

    As the case proceeded, litigators referenced the well-known Spokeo v. Robins decision. That case determined a statutory violation of the FCRA must include a “concrete injury”, meaning a de facto or existing injury or something that involves a genuine risk of harm to establish standing.

    During the hearings, the primary plaintiffs only alleged a “bare procedural violation” of the FCRA. They also testified that they were aware that background checks would be run and had provided consent. As such, no concrete injury was found to occur.

    The court wrote an opinion that said: “The only injury plaintiffs identify is that, as a result of defendant’s deficient disclosure forms, they ‘have been injured including, but not limited to, having their privacy and statutory rights invaded in violation of the FCRA,’ or, put differently, that defendant ‘obtained plaintiffs’ personal information in violation of their statutorily protected rights. If, as the Supreme Court has established, there is a category of ‘bare procedural violation,’ then it must certainly encompass the wrongdoing alleged in plaintiffs’ first cause of action.”

    What Employers Should Know

    Walmart was sued for allegedly not following federal laws about disclosing the intent to run a background check. Since no actual injury could be established, the suit was decertified. However, it remains essential for employers to follow relevant laws when providing disclosure and authorization documents.

    A disclosure must be a clear, conspicuous document that explains the nature and scope of the intended background investigation and informs the recipient that an organization wishes to run a consumer report on them. The consumer must also receive a written authorization document which they sign to provide consent. Learn more.

    If you need to run background checks, please contact us. We provide a proprietary applicant submittal flow that asks the people you screen to send their information directly to us. This saves your organization time and money and also ensures the people you screen receive compliant disclosure and authorization documents, relevant state notices and any other required documentation. Our team is available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • New York May Prohibit Employers From Asking About Salary​

    February 25, 2020
    Governor Cuomo is expected to sign a bill that would disallow employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history.
    Backgrounds Online | February 25, 2020

    Governor Cuomo is expected to sign a bill that would disallow employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history.

    About The Bill

    New York lawmakers introduced Assembly Bill 5308 (AB5308) to help end wage discrimination based on gender and other factors. This bill has been passed on to the Governor and awaits his signature. It stipulates that employers may not:
    · Rely on an applicant’s wage or salary history when determining what level of compensation to offer.
    · Request or require a candidate to provide their salary history.
    · Inquire about a candidate’s salary history from other sources, such as an individual’s previous employer.
    · Refuse to interview, hire, promote or otherwise employ a person because of their salary history.
    · Refuse to interview, hire or otherwise retaliate against a candidate or former employee who filed a complaint regarding a violation of AB5308.

    Job seekers may voluntarily provide their wage history to employers. This can be done for the purpose of negotiating a potential salary. When an employer makes an offer that includes the proposed compensation, the candidate may counter by saying they currently earn more. If this occurs, then the candidate may authorize the employer to verify their current salary.

    Read the bill.

    If The Bill Is Signed

    AB5308 was introduced on February 8, 2019. It received strong support from assembly members. The bill was approved and submitted to Governor Cuomo, who is expected to sign it into law. If he does, it will go into effect 180 days later. New York employers should be aware of AB5308 and prepared to comply if it is signed.

    The bill establishes remedies for individuals who can show a potential employer violated AB5308. If this happens, a civil action can be brought against the employer for: “…compensation for any damages sustained as a result of such violation on behalf of such applicant, employee, or other persons similarly situated in any court of competent jurisdiction. The court may award injunctive relief as well as reasonable attorneys' fees to a plaintiff who prevails in a civil action…”

    AB5308 would not supersede any existing federal or state laws that require an applicant to disclose their salary history.

    Wage Discrimination Laws In The U.S.

    Bills like AB5308 are becoming more common in the United States. We’ve seen various laws enacted to help prevent wage discrimination based on gender and other factors. More are expected to be passed in the coming years. A best practice is to not ask candidates about their salary history or to base an offer of compensation on how much a person previously earned.

    Every employer is responsible for complying with laws that cover the hiring and background screening process. We recommend maintaining written policies that are reviewed and approved by legal counsel. When you are ready to make a final hiring determination, the next step is to run a comprehensive background check. This demonstrates you are performing due diligence to create a safe work environment and helps you determine if a candidate has the required skills, education and employment history.

    The experienced team at Backgrounds Online excels at creating custom background screening packages for any position. Contact us to request background checks on candidates, employees, volunteers or contractors. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Citigroup Fined $1.25M For Insufficient Background Checks​

    February 20, 2020
    The financial services company is alleged to have hired three convicts due to inadequate background screening policies.
    Backgrounds Online | February 20, 2020

    The financial services company is alleged to have hired three convicts due to inadequate background screening policies.

    Insufficient Background Screening

    Financial giant Citigroup allegedly failed to properly background screen applicants for their Broker-Dealer division over a 7-year period. According to a news article, the company neglected to run background checks on numerous people who were hired between January 2010 and May 2017.

    During this time, three hires were found to have criminal records that should have disqualified them. Existing laws stipulate that people with certain types of convictions may not work in positions that grant them access to sensitive financial data.

    Citigroup Fined

    This matter was considered by the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). They levied a fine against Citigroup in the amount of $1.2 million. While the company has not admitted or denied fault, they agreed to pay the full amount.

    Susan Schroeder, the head of FINRA enforcement, spoke about this issue. She said: “FINRA member firms must live up to their responsibility as a gatekeeper protecting investors from bad actors. It is important that firms appropriately screen all employees for past criminal or regulatory events that can disqualify individuals from associating with member firms, even in a non-registered capacity.”

    A Similar Story

    Citigroup is not the only large financial company to be fined for failing to properly background screen employees. JPMorgan Chase faced a similar charge in 2017. It was alleged that this company neglected to run background checks and therefore hired former convicts who were granted access to personal banking information about thousands of customers.

    Like Citigroup, JPMorgan was hit with a $1.25 million fine from FINRA.

    Hiring People With Criminal Records

    Employers in the United States must comply with relevant Second Chance laws that help people who have criminal records find employment. However, every employer is still expected to run background checks on potential employees, volunteers and contractors. Millions of Americans have minor convictions that would not disqualify them from most positions, but some offenses are serious enough to make the person ineligible for hire.

    Both Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase were charged large fines for allegedly having inadequate background screening policies. This is a strong reminder that it is essential for every organization to perform due diligence and screen anyone who might be allowed to represent their brand.

    We recommend having written hiring and background screening policies that cover what types of potentially adverse information you are looking for in a background check and which offenses could disqualify a job seeker. Have your legal counsel review and approve these policies to ensure they are compliant with applicable laws.

    Are Your Background Screening Policies Sufficient?

    Do you run background checks when bringing on new people? Have you implemented ongoing criminal monitoring to see if current employees incur new convictions?

    If you are not properly screening your candidates, then you could face investigations, fines, a loss of trust in your brand and other repercussions. Thankfully, it’s easy to run comprehensive and compliant background checks. When you’re ready to begin, please contact us.

    Our team is highly experienced at building customized screening packages that provide the facts you need to determine if someone is eligible to work for you. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • ​HR Professionals Encourage Employers To Hire Former Convicts​

    February 18, 2020
    To help employers find qualified applicants, HR giants like SHRM encourage hiring managers to consider people with criminal histories.
    Backgrounds Online | February 18, 2020

    To help employers find qualified applicants, HR giants like SHRM encourage hiring managers to consider people with criminal histories.

    A “Human Capital” Crisis

    The online publication HR Technologist suggests “Human Capital Crisis” has become a common term to describe a shortage of job seekers in the United States. They published an article about hiring applicants who have criminal records. It stated that unemployment has been consistently low and this trend is expected to continue. While this is positive news, it also indicates employers are having trouble finding people to fill crucial roles.

    Their article mentioned that artificial intelligence is a commonly used HR tool. Software programs can identify applicants who have sizable gaps in their employment history, potentially due to a period of incarceration. The author encouraged employers to consider qualified candidates who have employment gaps due to time in prison if they have not incurred additional convictions.

    Getting Talent Back To Work

    The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) launched an initiative called Getting Talent Back to Work (GTBW) in 2019. Their website states that around 700,000 people are released from prison each year, only to be “re-sentenced” by their inability to find jobs. GTBW asks employers to take a pledge that confirms they will consider people who have criminal records.

    This Pledge provides statistics such as:
    - One in three adults have a criminal record.
    - 95% of the people in prison now will be released, meaning they will eventually need employment.
    - Nearly 7.8 million jobs need to be filled in the U.S.
    - 82% of hiring managers agree that workers who have a criminal history are often among their most productive employees.

    Employers that take the Pledge are vowing to consider people who have criminal histories. SHRM says organizations that do this join a “coalition of diverse businesses that represent a major portion of the American workforce.” They also say hiring former convicts provides three primary benefits:
    1. Employers gain a more diverse pool of potentially qualified workers.
    2. There is an intrinsic value to providing second chances to people.
    3. When former convicts land jobs, they can improve their lives and the community.

    See the Pledge.

    Numerous Laws Encourage Employers To Consider Former Convicts

    Lawmakers across the country have shown they agree with organizations like SHRM. Numerous bills prohibit employers from inquiring about criminal records until after conducting an interview and considering the applicant’s qualifications.

    Other bills have also been passed to help people find employment despite having criminal histories. They include laws that make it easy for people to expunge minor convictions after a certain period of time or require employers to individually assess a person’s offenses and determine if they warrant an adverse action. The GTBW Pledge is voluntary, but every employer must follow Second Chance laws that are active where they operate.

    Running Background Checks

    Second Chance laws and initiatives like the one created by SHRM all acknowledge the need for employers to run comprehensive background checks. It is the responsibility of every employer to perform due diligence and take steps to create safe workplaces.

    When you’re ready to bring on employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. Our highly trained team can help you customize background checks based on industry requirements and the needs of each position. We’re available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • A New York Senator Pushes For Background Checks​

    February 13, 2020
    NY Senator Chuck Schumer issued a Press Release and sent a letter to the Department Of Justice regarding their alleged delay of a new background check system.
    Backgrounds Online | February 13, 2020

    NY Senator Chuck Schumer issued a Press Release and sent a letter to the Department Of Justice regarding their alleged delay of a new background check system.

    An Act To Protect Vulnerable Populations

    In 2018, a bill known as the Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA) was signed into law. It was designed to protect children, the elderly and people with disabilities. To accomplish this, the Act called for the Department Of Justice (DOJ) to create a system from which organizations can run FBI background checks on candidates who might be hired to work with vulnerable populations.

    This system was mandated to be in place by March 2019. As of November 2019, that had still not occurred. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a staunch supporter of the CPIA, got involved to try and move things forward.

    Senator Schumer Speaks Out

    On November 10, 2019, Senator Schumer issued a Press Release that asked the DOJ to explain why a method for obtaining FBI background checks had not been implemented. Schumer stressed that the safety of children and other vulnerable populations is paramount.

    He wrote: “Protecting children, the elderly and people with disabilities from abuse must be a major priority at the Department of Justice, but this no-excuse delay with implementing the Child Protection Improvement Act really makes you worry. We have to have robust employment checks when it comes to staffing afterschool programs, preschools, nursing homes and other organizations that employ people whose job it is to oversee members of a vulnerable population.” Read the Press Release.

    In addition to the Press Release, Schumer made several appearances at events in New York. He publicly called for the DOJ to act and repeated that protecting kids from potential sex offenders and abusers is a federal priority. Schumer declared the background check system must be implemented immediately and expressed concern that without it, a tragedy could occur.

    Sex Offender Statistics

    New York is said to have more than 8,000 people listed on sex offender registries within five counties. According to an article from the Democrat & Chronicle website, the number of registered offenders in New York has increased by 60% over the last decade.

    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children revealed that there are more than 800,000 sex offenders in the United States. Senator Schumer looks at these statistics as a strong call-to-action for introducing stronger background screening policies. He commented: “This failure to implement the law that makes those checks stronger and easier to accomplish locally endangers the very innocents we sought to protect. That’s why the Department of Justice needs to tell Congress what is going on and then get moving.”

    More Support For Stronger Background Checks

    The Senator is not alone in his efforts. The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) is also calling for the DOJ to act. Steve Forrester, the Director of Government Relations and Administration at The NYSPCC, issued a statement on this matter.

    “As the world’s first child protection agency, The NYSPCC strongly supports the swift implementation of the Child Protection Improvements Act. There are dire consequences for children when pedophiles, and other unsafe adults in positions of trust, gain access to them. In-depth background checks are one of the most important tools that administrators of child-serving organizations have for hiring safe and appropriate employees and volunteers. The CPIA strengthens the screening process in all states, and must be implemented without further delay,”

    The Urgency Of Background Screening

    When consumers use the services of any business or organization, they expect people who work for those brands to be thoroughly background screened. Comprehensive background checks show employers if a candidate has a sexual, violent or another serious criminal record that makes them ineligible for hire. Running them is an essential part of the due diligence process.

    The team at Backgrounds Online can help customize background screening packages that are ideal for any position. Contact us Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm for expert assistance.

  • Waterloo, Iowa Bans The Box​

    February 11, 2020
    Organizations in Waterloo with 15 or more employees may not inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until they extend a conditional job offer.
    Backgrounds Online | February 11, 2020

    Organizations in Waterloo with 15 or more employees may not inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until they extend a conditional job offer.

    Waterloo’s Ban The Box Ordinance

    The City of Waterloo, Iowa passed a Ban the Box law for organizations with 15 or more employees. It prohibits covered employers from:

    · Including questions about criminal records on job applications.
    · Asking job seekers if they have convictions, arrests or pending charges during the initial application process.
    · Taking adverse actions based exclusively on a candidate’s record of arrest or a pending charge.
    · Taking adverse actions based on criminal records that have been expunged.

    Waterloo employers are encouraged to run comprehensive criminal background checks, but only after extending conditional job offers. If the results show an applicant has violent offenses or other convictions that make them ineligible for a position, the employer should then take an adverse action.

    Adverse Actions

    Employers in Waterloo may deny employment based on the results of a background check. The Ordinance states that an employer must have a legitimate business reason. These include:

    · Situations in which the offense has a “direct and substantial bearing on the fitness or ability to perform the duties or responsibilities of the intended employment” when the employer considers the following factors:
    - The location where work will be performed.
    - The seriousness of an offense.
    - Whether employment creates an opportunity for the individual to commit a similar offense.
    - How much time has passed since the conviction.
    - The number and types of convictions or pending charges.
    · If hiring the person creates an unreasonable risk to property or the safety of employees, customers or the public.
    · If the position involves working with vulnerable populations such as children, disabled adults or people who were victimized by various types of crime.

    What Waterloo Employers Should Know

    This Ban the Box Ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2020. Once active, employers in Waterloo Iowa must be in compliance. Failure to follow these laws could result in lawsuits and other repercussions.

    Learn more.

    Nationwide Second Chance Movement

    The Waterloo Ordinance is one of many Second Chance laws. Employers throughout the nation are being asked to consider applicants based on their merit and qualifications before running background checks. Millions of Americans have criminal records, but most of them would not warrant an adverse action such as denial of employment.

    The Second Chance Movement intends to help people with minor and outdated convictions find employment. “Ban the Box” laws like the one in Waterloo are created to help residents rejoin society and avoid recidivism. They are also intended to help employers by giving them access to a larger pool of qualified job seekers.

    Stay Compliant With Ban The Box Laws

    It is the responsibility of every employer to comply with federal, state and local laws that cover the hiring and background screening process. Backgrounds Online encourages employers to maintain written hiring policies that include Ban the Box and other relevant laws. Have legal counsel sign off on your documentation before sharing it with everyone involved in the hiring process.

    When you’re ready to run background checks, please contact us. Our team is highly experienced and able to help you build custom screening packages that comply with laws where you operate. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.