Backgrounds Online Blog

  • Many Pennsylvania Criminal Records Could Be Sealed​

    January 28, 2020
    Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill that makes certain types of criminal records eligible for expungement.
    Backgrounds Online | January 28, 2020


    Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill that makes certain types of criminal records eligible for expungement.

    The Clean Slate Bill

    In 2018, Pennsylvania legislators passed The Clean Slate Bill. It was created to help people with certain types of criminal records find employment and housing. Governor Wolf spoke in favor of this initiative. He said: “I am proud to sign this legislation, which will make it easier for those who have interacted with the justice system to reduce the stigma they face when looking for employment and housing.”

    The bill established guidelines for residents to file a petition to “block disclosure” of their criminal records. If a request is approved, then the person’s records will no longer be available to landlords, employers or other public organizations. They would still be available to criminal justice and government agencies.

    Only certain types of convictions can be blocked. They include misdemeanors that resulted in a maximum of 5 years of imprisonment and were not violent or sexual offenses. To be eligible, the person must not have been convicted of any crime in the last ten years and paid all fees associated with their sentence.

    Act 56

    A second part of the Clean Slate Bill, Act 56, went into effect on June 28, 2019. It calls for criminal records to be sealed under specific circumstances. For example, state and local police must remove notations of arrests, indictments and details about criminal proceedings before releasing records to an individual or non-criminal justice agency if:
    · Three years have passed since the arrest.
    · No conviction occurred.
    · There are no pending charges.

    Act 56 also limits access to criminal records if:
    · A conviction was a misdemeanor of the second degree, third degree or punishable by imprisonment for no more than 2 years if the person has been “free for 10 years from conviction for any offense punishable by imprisonment of one or more years and if completion of each court-ordered financial obligation of the sentence has occurred.”
    · Charges resulted in a disposition other than a conviction.
    · Ten years passed since a conviction for a summary offense if all financial obligations of the sentence have also been completed.

    Act 56 of the Clean Slate Bill was created to:
    · Reduce the rate of recidivism.
    · Provide “hope” and prevent hardships for people who have criminal histories but are attempting to rehabilitate their lives.
    · Save the Commonwealth money by reducing the amount of time spent on the administration of criminal justice.

    Learn more about Act 56.

    Second Chance Laws

    Pennsylvania is one of many states to pass legislation that helps people with minor or outdated criminal records. Examples include laws that:
    · Prohibit employers from asking about convictions on job applications.
    · Require employers to individually assess criminal offenses.
    · Create easier methods to seal certain types of convictions.
    · Provide other resources to help people re-enter society.

    Consult with your legal counsel to ensure you are compliant with second chance and other laws where you operate.

    Running Background Checks

    Every organization is responsible for performing due diligence and running comprehensive background checks on candidates, volunteers, employees and contractors. While many offenses are minor and would not disqualify a job seeker, hiring someone who has a violent or sexual criminal history could put your business, customers and employees at risk. Criminal background checks provide the details you need to make informed decisions and create a safe work environment.

    When you’re ready to start the background screening process, please contact us. We make efforts to keep up with relevant state laws and every member of our processing team earns their FCRA certification. We’re available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Opposition To California Law AB5​

    January 23, 2020
    AB5, the bill that defines how California employers differentiate between employees and contractors, is under fire from several organizations.
    Backgrounds Online | January 21, 2020


    AB5, the bill that defines how California employers differentiate between employees and contractors, is under fire from several organizations.

    An Initiative To Overturn AB5 For On Demand Drivers

    On January 2, 2020, the California Attorney General released information about proposed Initiative 19-0026, which seeks to overturn AB5 for “app-based” delivery and transportation drivers. To get this initiative on the ballot, nearly 625,000 verified signatures must be obtained. The initiative, which is primarily sponsored by Lyft, Uber and DoorDash, states that it intends to establish:

    “Different criteria for determining whether app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers are "employees" or "independent contractors." Independent contractors are not entitled to certain state-law protections afforded employees—including minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation. Instead, companies with independent contractor drivers will be required to provide specified alternative benefits, including minimum compensation and healthcare subsidies based on engaged driving time, vehicle insurance, safety training, and sexual harassment policies. Restricts local regulation of app-based drivers; criminalizes impersonation of such drivers; requires background checks.”

    Rally To Repeal

    California Assemblyman Kevin Kiley opposes AB5. He helped organize a “Rally to Repeal” the state law. It will be held be on January 28 on the northern steps of the California State Capitol building at 10am. Following the rally, attendees are encouraged to visit their representatives and explain how the law affects them.

    Kiley also introduced Assembly Bill 1928 to repeal AB5. It states: “This bill would repeal those existing provisions and instead require a determination of whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor to be based on the specific multifactor test set forth in Borello, including whether the person to whom service is rendered has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired, and other identified factors. The bill would make related, conforming changes.
    This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.”

    Protect App-Based Drivers & Services

    A website known as Protect App-Based Drivers & Services asks visitors to support independent drivers and oppose AB5. The group is said to be comprised of a “coalition of on-demand drivers and network companies, small businesses, community groups and public safety organizations.”

    According to the site, AB5 “jeopardizes the freedom of hundreds of thousands of Californians to choose to work as independent contractors with app-based rideshare and delivery network platforms, and threatens the availability of these on-demand services that millions of Californians rely on daily.”

    Visitors to the site are asked to join and show their support. Upon joining, individuals will receive auto-dialed calls and texts with updates about the campaign to repeal AB5. Learn more.

    Takeaway For California Employers

    AB5 is currently in effect, so employers in California should be familiar with this law. If you haven’t done so yet, you may wish to consult with your legal counsel to ensure your organization is in compliance.

    Whether you’re bringing on employees or contractors, an essential part of the hiring process is running comprehensive background checks. They provide the information employers need to make informed decisions, demonstrate due diligence and create safe workplaces.

    When you’re ready to screen candidates, please contact us. Our experienced team will help you build custom background check packages for any type of position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • California Bill AB5 Defines Employee Vs. Contractor​

    January 21, 2020
    On January 1, 2020, California Bill AB5 went into effect. It created stricter guidelines for determining if a worker is an employee or contractor.
    Backgrounds Online | January 21, 2020


    On January 1, 2020, California Bill AB5 went into effect. It created stricter guidelines for determining if a worker is an employee or contractor.

    History Of The Bill

    California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 18, 2019 and went into effect on January 1, 2020. The bill updated a decision made in the case of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. That case analyzed the definitions of employees and independent contractors as they were previously established in the 1989 case of Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industry Relations (Borello).

    The Borello decision created a “right to control” test to help define an employment relationship. It was used to establish if a worker could be fired “at will”, how a person would be paid for a job and if the parties agreed they were implementing an employer/employee relationship.

    In their Dynamex decision, the California Supreme Court created a three-step process called the “ABC Test.” Employers were asked to consider three factors when bringing on new workers. Depending on the outcome, the employer would determine if a worker was an employee or contractor.

    Updated ABC Test

    Some California legislators felt the ABC Test made it too easy for employers to classify workers as contractors. They updated the test to help ensure more people would be considered employees and thus gain additional rights and benefits. AB5 states that the misclassification of contractors has been a “significant factor in the erosion of the middle class and the rise in income inequality.” The bill intends to codify the ABC test in the hopes of restoring protections to millions of Americans.

    With AB5 in place, workers must be considered employees unless all three of the following revised conditions are met:
    A: The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.
    B: The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.
    C: The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

    Exemptions

    Multiple exemptions are created by AB5. A few include (but are not limited to):

    Various occupations. Examples include licensed insurance agents, certain licensed health care professionals, registered securities broker-dealers or investment advisers, direct sales salespersons, real estate licensees, commercial fishermen, workers providing licensed barber or cosmetology services, and others performing work under a contract for professional services, with another business entity, or pursuant to a subcontract in the construction industry.

    Professional service providers. Examples include travel agents, graphic designers and fine artists. To qualify, these providers must:
    · Maintain a business location.
    · Be able to negotiate their own service rate.
    · Customarily engage in the same type of work performed under contract with another hiring entity.
    · Hold themselves out to other potential customers as available to perform the same type of work.

    Bona fide business-to-business contracting relationships. To qualify, these must meet 12 separate conditions.

    To learn more, read AB5.

    Takeaway For California Employers

    California employers that have workers they currently deem independent contractors should be aware of and compliant with AB5. The law is active, but some groups hope to have it repealed or modified. Follow this blog for ongoing developments.

    Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice of any kind. We recommend having your legal counsel review your hiring policies to ensure they are compliant with all applicable laws.

    When you’re bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, it is important to run comprehensive background checks. The team at Backgrounds Online can help you customize screening packages for any position in your industry. Contact us for expert assistance Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • DC Public School Employees Need Current Background Checks​

    January 14, 2020
    An internal audit revealed that nearly one-third of DC public school employees do not have current background checks on file.
    Backgrounds Online | January 14, 2020


    An internal audit revealed that nearly one-third of DC public school employees do not have current background checks on file.

    Background Screening Policies Investigated

    An internal investigation was conducted to determine if the background screening practices for DC schools were on par with the district’s written policies. Chancellor Lewis Ferebee oversaw this effort. This investigation was prompted by an unsettling accusation about an employee having inappropriate contact with a 13-year-old student.

    Many of the employees at DC schools were hired via a private company called Springboard Education. They were responsible for bringing on workers at eight campuses in the district. Chancellor Ferebee learned that Springboard Education was not consistently running background checks on individuals who were authorized to work at schools. Their services were terminated.

    Almost One-Third Of The Staff Didn’t Have Current Background Checks

    Following his investigation, the Chancellor revealed that a startling number of public school employees had outdated background checks. He wrote a statement that was shared with the DC public schools community. It read: “As a result of our district’s review, we determined that 31 percent of current DCPS staff members have a clearance that has expired.”

    Ferebee clarified that all school employees are required to authorize and pass a background check before being cleared to work on any campus. District policy also stipulates that each employee must go through a follow-up background screening every two years to maintain their security clearance. The district agreed to take immediate action.

    New Background Screenings Ordered

    Every current DC school employee will be required to authorize a new background check before they may return to work for the 2020 school year. Additional steps are being taken to help ensure each employee is scheduled for ongoing screenings.

    Ferebee addressed expectations for the new background screening requirements. He said: “By the first day of school, 100 percent of DC Public Schools (DCPS) afterschool staff and outside providers will have an active clearance. By the end of September, 100 percent of DCPS school staff members will have an active clearance. By the end of October, 100 percent of DCPS central office staff will have an active clearance.”

    The Importance Of Ongoing Screenings

    Most employers are diligent about running background checks before bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers. However, it is equally important for organizations to re-screen everyone who represents them. This is done to ensure each person remains eligible for ongoing employment and that they do not pose any undue risk.

    Ongoing screenings show employers if someone who represents their brand incurs a new criminal record. They can also provide other useful facts such as whether or not a person maintains a required license, has new traffic violations (particularly for individuals who drive on the job) or gets any other new item on their record about which the employer should be aware.

    Employers can schedule follow-up background checks at regular intervals. Many choose to re-screen annually, but it can also be done monthly or at whatever point the organization deems necessary. Recurring background check packages can be fully customized for every position in any industry.

    If you need background checks for potential employees or people who are currently part of your staff, please contact us. We can help you build customized background screening packages that are perfectly tailored to your specific needs. Our team is available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Employment-Related Credit Checks Could Be Banned​

    January 06, 2020
    A proposed bill intends to disallow employers from running credit reports for most hiring scenarios.
    Backgrounds Online | January 06, 2020


    A proposed bill intends to disallow employers from running credit reports for most hiring scenarios.

    About The Legislation

    U.S. Congress House Bill 3614 (HB3614) is a proposed law that calls for an update to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). It is known as the “Restricting Credit Checks for Employment Decisions Act.” If passed, it will prohibit employers from running credit checks with a few exceptions. Authors of this bill believe there is generally no correlation between a person’s creditworthiness and job performance.

    The Act would update existing law that 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.” HR3614 revises this to stipulate employers may only run credit reports on applicants if:
    · One is required by a federal, state or local law.
    · The information contained in the report is being used for a national security investigation.

    This bill also clarifies that costs involved in procuring a credit report may not be passed on to the consumer. Furthermore, it says that 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 HR3614. She believes the use of credit checks can cause qualified people to be denied employment because of a financial hardship they endured. Waters 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."

    Members of the House Committee also suggested credit checks are unfair to ethnicities that are said to commonly have lower credit scores. Waters provided input on this by commenting: "The growing use of credit checks may disproportionately screen otherwise qualified racial and ethnic minorities out of jobs, leading to discriminatory hiring practices."

    Opposition To The Bill

    Groups such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA – formerly the NAPBS) are opposed to HR3614 because they feel it 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 that 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.”

    Most employers do not use credit checks. They are typically only run for positions such as Financial Advisors, Sales Executives and people who would have access to company or partner funds. Before running a credit check, an employer must be vetted to determine that 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 HR3614 is signed into law, employers should be aware that nationwide restrictions will go into effect. Backgrounds Online will keep up with the status of this bill and provide updates as they occur.

    You may not need to check an applicant’s credit history, but when 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.

  • No Rehire Clauses Prohibited In CA Settlements

    December 31, 2019
    California passed a bill that prohibits employers from including no rehire clauses in settlements for discrimination or harassment suits.
    Backgrounds Online | December 31, 2019


    California passed a bill that prohibits employers from including no rehire clauses in settlements for discrimination or harassment suits.

    No Rehire Clauses Were Once Common

    When an employee files a work-related discrimination or harassment lawsuit, the case is sometimes settled out of court. Currently, settlements are likely to include a no rehire provision. This means the lawsuit is closed via a mutual agreement and the aggrieved person signs a document that says they are not eligible for any future position within the company.

    One issue with this practice is that large corporations own numerous businesses. Therefore, a person who signs a no rehire clause will be disallowed from working at any location owned by the parent company. This can be very limiting to the person who was allegedly victimized in the workplace.

    California Assembly Bill 749

    Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Assembly Bill 749 (AB749) to prohibit employers from adding no rehire clauses to harassment and discrimination settlements. This law does not apply to employees who were abusive. It is intended to protect workers who were harassed or discriminated against while on the job.

    Assemblyman Mark Stone spoke in favor of the bill. He said: “The no-rehire clause punishes the victims of discrimination or sexual harassment from continuing employment while the offender remains in the job. Eliminating this provision will have a meaningful impact for victims.”

    AB749 states the following: An agreement to settle an employment dispute shall not contain a provision prohibiting, preventing, or otherwise restricting a settling party that is an aggrieved person from obtaining future employment with the employer against which the aggrieved person has filed a claim, or any parent company, subsidiary, division, affiliate, or contractor of the employer.
    It does not:
    · Prohibit employers from ending an existing “employment relationship.”
    · Require an employer to rehire a person if there is a valid “non-discriminatory or non-retaliatory reason for terminating the employment relationship.”

    This bill goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Read the full text.

    What Employers Should Know

    Employers in California should be aware of AB749 and prepared for compliance as of 2020. If an employer attempts to add a no rehire clause to a settlement for any harassment or discrimination suit after the bill is active, they will be in violation and could be subjected to legal repercussions.

    We often recommend that every organization create and maintain written hiring and background screening policies. California employers may wish to read AB749 and amend their policies to be compliant when this bill goes into effect. Have your legal counsel review your policies before they are finalized and shared with people who are involved in the hiring process.

    When Hiring Or Rehiring

    Anytime you bring on employees, contractors or volunteers – whether hiring them for the first time or rehiring an individual – it is essential to run background checks. These reports can show you if a person has a serious criminal record, empower you to see if they have the employment and education history they need to succeed and supply facts that help you make informed decisions while creating a safe workplace.

    When you need background checks for employment purposes, please contact us. Our experienced team can help you create customized screening packages for any type of position. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm to assist you.

  • Happy Holidays! Are You Prepared To Comply With New Laws?

    December 24, 2019
    Enjoy the holiday season and prepare for a successful 2020.
    Backgrounds Online | December 24, 2019


    Enjoy the holiday season and prepare for a successful 2020.

    Holiday Hours

    The entire team at Backgrounds Online wishes you a joyous holiday season.

    Our offices will be closed Tuesday, December 24 and Wednesday, December 25 so we can spend time with family and friends. We will be here to assist you with all your background screening needs on Thursday, December 26. Please note that we are closing at noon on Friday, December 27 so our team can celebrate the season together.

    We will also be closed on Wednesday, January 1 but here and available to assist you during regular office hours on January 2 and 3.

    New Year, New Laws. Are You Prepared?

    Every year comes with new state laws that affect employers. If you haven’t done it yet, this week is a good time to document how you will comply with upcoming laws that will be in effect where you operate. Backgrounds Online recommends maintaining written hiring and background screening policies and reviewing them at least annually. Have your legal counsel sign off on these policies before they are distributed to everyone on your staff who is involved in the hiring process.

    To help you remain aware of employment-related laws, Backgrounds Online provides several educational resources. Follow this blog, subscribe to our Newsletter and visit our State Laws section regularly to learn about new/pending laws and background screening best practices. As your partner in background screening, we remain committed to providing educational materials that supplement your compliance efforts.

    Efficient, Compliant Background Checks In 2020

    Will your organization be bringing on new employees, contractors or volunteers in 2020? If so, then it is essential to conduct due diligence and run comprehensive background checks before allowing anyone to represent your brand. These reports provide useful information that helps you make informed decisions, create safe workplaces and build strong teams.

    Backgrounds Online empowers you to customize background check packages that are perfectly tailored for any position and industry. We also offer tools that allow you to use our services online, via API, through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) of your choice or however you prefer. As a service-first company, we are always happy to answer your questions, help solve your most complex background screening challenges and provide sample forms and documents that bolster your compliance efforts.

    When you’re ready to start screening, please contact us. Outside of our holiday hours, we are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT. Thank you for visiting backgroundsonline.com.

  • A Federal Ban The Box Bill Passed In The House​

    December 17, 2019
    The House of Representatives approved a bill that would prohibit most federal employers from asking about convictions on job applications.
    Backgrounds Online | December 17, 2019


    The House of Representatives approved a bill that would prohibit most federal employers from asking about convictions on job applications.

    The Fair Chance Act

    A proposed bill called the Fair Chance Act seeks to create a federal Ban the Box law. It would prohibit federal employers from including question about a job seeker’s criminal history on applications. Currently, applicants can be asked to check a box if they have any type of criminal record. People who do may be less likely to receive further consideration regardless of their qualifications and eligibility.

    The Fair Chance Act was authored by Senators Cory Booker and Ron Johnson. Their goal is to give “formerly incarcerated individuals a better chance to find employment.” According to a Press Release issued by Booker, having a criminal record reduces “the chance of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent” in general. That percentage increases for some ethnicities.

    To help people with convictions find employment, this bill calls for the federal government to:
    - Require federal employers to extend a conditional job offer before requesting a candidate’s criminal history.
    - Prohibit federal contractors from inquiring about criminal records until the conditional offer stage is reached within the scope of a contract.
    - Require the Bureau of Justice Statistics to create a report regarding employment of formerly incarcerated individuals.

    On December 11, 2019, the Fair Chance Act was passed by the House of Representatives as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Next it will move on to the Senate. Read the bill.

    Exceptions And Background Checks

    This bill creates exceptions for certain types of federal positions. Job applications for national security personnel and law enforcement could still include questions about criminal records. The same would be true for positions that involve access to classified information or for which applicable law requires a criminal records check prior to the conditional offer stage.

    If the bill is passed, federal employers would still be encouraged and expected to run background checks on seemingly qualified candidates. Applicants who have convictions that make them ineligible could have their offers revoked after an employer completes the federally mandated adverse action process.

    Support For The Bill

    Eight Senators sponsored the bill, which is also endorsed by The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), FreedomWorks, Justice Action Network, National Employment Law Project and other notable organizations.

    Sponsor and co-author Senator Johnson commented that this bill has a goal all Americans share. He stated that The Fair Chance Act aims to get people back to work, which would help create safer communities, strengthen families and reduce government dependence.

    Senator Booker was quoted in the Press Release as saying: “Each year, approximately 650,000 people are released from prison and 9 million from jails and we must remove the barriers they face when job-searching to give them the hope of a second chance. This legislation restores the dignity of work for formerly incarcerated people and puts our goals of justice, rehabilitation, and redemption at the center of our criminal justice system.”

    Ban The Box Laws: What Employers Should Know

    Hundreds of Ban the Box and other Second Chance laws are currently active in the United States. Employers must be aware of and compliant with laws that are in effect where they operate. These laws vary by location, so employers are urged to consult with legal counsel to help ensure compliance.

    Employers should also be aware that they are expected to conduct due diligence and run comprehensive background checks when bringing on employees, contractors and volunteers. Organizations rely on these reports to help them build strong teams, create safe workplaces and make informed decisions.

    When you’re ready to request background checks, please contact us. Our experienced team provides educational resources about state, federal and local laws and can help you create background screening packages that are ideal for any position in your industry. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • The City Of Newark Inadvertently Hired Alleged Drug Dealers​

    December 10, 2019
    Three people who were hired to work at a Newark recreation center allegedly used the facility to store drugs that were sold in nearby neighborhoods.
    Backgrounds Online | December 10, 2019


    Three people who were hired to work at a Newark recreation center allegedly used the facility to store drugs that were sold in nearby neighborhoods.

    Alleged Drug Dealers

    Newark, New Jersey is home to a city-run facility called the Rotunda Recreation & Wellness Center. In July 2019, news broke that three employees who were said to have ties to a local gang were allegedly using the facility to house and sell drugs.

    Two of those workers were found to have previous convictions for drug-related crimes. One served 37 months in a federal prison and another served ten years for conspiracy to distribute heroin. According to a local news source, one of the individuals was still on probation when he was hired.

    The people who run the Center stated that they had been unaware of this information.

    Background Checks Were Missed

    According to an article from a Newark publication, the three men who stand accused of drug trafficking did not get background checks before they were granted employment. Every potential hire is asked to schedule an appointment to be fingerprinted and initiate the screening process. However, the city has no records that indicate any of the men completed these steps.

    Representatives from the center believe the trio may have been overlooked due to a misunderstanding about city policies. Officials said they did not think the background screening rule applied to part-time or seasonal workers.

    Kecia Daniels, Newark’s Deputy Business Administrator, was the Personnel Director at the time these men were hired. She has taken responsibility for this problem and stated: “Sometimes with a city this size and an employee population this size, the background checks come back and they are either lost or not reviewed thoroughly.”

    Reactions To This Situation

    New Jersey Mayor Ras Baraka said he was “perturbed, angry, upset” upon hearing this news. While Baraka is a major proponent of second chance policies, there are steps that ex-convicts are expected to take before they can be granted employment. Newark offers a re-entry program that helps former inmates get training and find jobs. The men who were hired at the recreation center did not enroll in this program or participate in any rehabilitation efforts.

    A city spokesperson released a statement about this incident: “This actually happened on the city’s watch. We’re investigating all aspects of this. We just want to cast a broad net to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Mayor Baraka expressed concern that this situation will cause residents to question the effectiveness of Newark’s re-entry program. He said the second chance program will continue to operate and plans to write an apology letter for the parents who patronize the recreation center.

    The city is reviewing its hiring process. A major goal will be to ensure background checks are run on every applicant before they are authorized to work at a city-owned facility. People with minor convictions might still be eligible to work at these locations. Various factors will be considered in these cases such as the seriousness of an offense and whether or not the person has undergone rehabilitation efforts.

    The Importance Of Always Running Background Checks

    The incident in Newark is likely to cause many residents to wonder if it is safe to use city-run facilities. Every employer is responsible for conducting due diligence and background screening anyone who might work for and represent their brand. Failing to do this could result in a lack of trust and other repercussions.

    When you’re bringing on full or part-time employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. Our expert team is highly experienced at building custom background check packages that are perfectly tailored for your business and industry needs. We’re available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Michigan May Help Residents Expunge Marijuana Convictions

    December 03, 2019
    The state House passed a bill that would allow thousands of residents to have certain marijuana related convictions sealed.
    Backgrounds Online | December 03, 2019


    The state House passed a bill that would allow thousands of residents to have certain marijuana-related convictions sealed.

    A Bill To Expunge Marijuana Criminal Convictions

    The Michigan House passed a bill that would expunge thousands of convictions for marijuana offenses. If this bill becomes law, then eligible criminal records for recreational marijuana use would be sealed. This includes convictions for activities that are no longer deemed criminal offenses in MI.

    To qualify for an expungement, the person must not have incurred any additional convictions since marijuana usage was made legal.

    This legislation is supported by Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. He spoke about the bill: “People that get their record expunged will get a second chance that I think they should have. I think it will help them looking for work." Leyton and other supporters believe this will help thousands of Michigan residents find new employment opportunities.

    The next step for this bill is to have it voted on in the Senate. If it is approved there, then it will become state law. Backgrounds Online will keep an eye on the progress of this bill and provide updates as they happen.

    What Happens When A Conviction Is Expunged

    When a criminal record is sealed or expunged, it is as if the conviction never occurred. An expunged record cannot be considered by employers or used for any business-related purpose. The person who had that record can legally say they do not have a conviction (assuming they did not incur any others).

    Therefore, an expunged criminal record will not be included on a background check that is compiled by a reputable Consumer Reporting Agency. These reports may only contain data employers can legally use to help make important decisions, such as for hiring, employee retention and promotions.

    What MI Employers Should Know

    Michigan employers should know that if this bill passes, thousands of existing convictions could be expunged. Those records would no longer be reportable and therefore could not be referenced or considered when making business decisions such as whether or not to bring on an employee, contractor or volunteer.

    Several other states have passed expungement laws for certain types of minor convictions. Every employer should be aware of laws that are in effect where they operate. It is essential for employers to comply with all relevant federal, state and local laws. Not doing so could result in lawsuits, fines and other legal repercussions.

    When You Run Background Checks

    If you need background checks, rely on the services of a Consumer Reporting Agency that is accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association. Backgrounds Online is proud of our accreditation as it demonstrates our ongoing commitment to professionalism, ethics and compliance. We produce consumer reports that businesses may legally use to make informed decisions, create safe workplaces and demonstrate due diligence.

    When you’re ready to run background checks, please contact us. Our experienced team is here to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Does A Nevada Law Violate Federal Laws?​

    November 26, 2019
    Three organizations teamed up to file a lawsuit that claims a Nevada bill is not compliant with the FCRA and ECOA.
    Backgrounds Online | November 26, 2019


    Three organizations teamed up to file a lawsuit that claims a Nevada bill is not compliant with the FCRA and ECOA.

    About The Lawsuit

    A lawsuit was filed against the Nevada Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Nevada Financial Institutions Division. There were three plaintiffs in this case, the American Financial Services Association, the Nevada Credit Union League and the Nevada Bankers’ Association. They believe a bill that went into effect on October 1, 2019 is in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA).

    This lawsuit calls for the bill to be pre-empted by federal law. It states that Nevada State Bill 311 (SB311) is “hopelessly unworkable” and should be stricken.

    The Nevada Bill

    SB311 creates a scenario in which a person who has no credit history may be able to use the credit history of their spouse or former spouse. A sponsor of this bill provided an explanation, saying it was meant to help individuals who “may not be able to obtain credit, even though the person contributed to the development of the couple’s credit history because the credit history is entirely in the spouse’s name.”

    Under certain circumstances, this bill would require organizations to disregard the fact that an individual has no credit history of their own. Instead, they would have to rely on the credit history of a second individual with the idea that the first person helped contribute to that history.

    The plaintiffs suggest that complying with SB311 would cause them to violate the FCRA. They believe it would require an organization to access credit history information for a person, which means they would be obtaining a consumer report without a permissible purpose. That is expressly prohibited by federal law.

    In addition, the plaintiffs claim that SB311 violates the ECOA. That Act prohibits creditors from asking for credit information about an applicant’s spouse or ex-spouse. By following SB311, the plaintiffs believe they would be violating privacy and data security laws.

    Learn more about SB311.

    Defining Permissible Purpose

    Before running any type of consumer report, including a credit check, an organization must have a permissible purpose. These purposes are defined within the FCRA. For example, employers may run background checks on people who apply to work as contractors, employees or volunteers. They may also request annual or ongoing background checks on existing employees.

    Procuring a consumer report without a permissible purpose, however, is a violation of federal law. Plaintiffs in this case hope that fact will be enough to overturn SB311.

    We will watch for news about the situation in Nevada and report on the outcome of this lawsuit.

    Running Background Checks

    When you have a permissible purpose and written authorization from a consumer, you may request a background check. The team at Backgrounds Online is ready to help. Please contact us to order compliant background checks that contain reportable data you can use to help make informed decisions and create safe workplaces.

    Every member of our team that processes background checks earns their FCRA certification 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.

  • Oklahoma Established An Online Background Check System​

    November 19, 2019
    The State Bureau of Investigation introduced a system that allows employers and the public to run searches on various criminal databases.
    Backgrounds Online | November 19, 2019


    The State Bureau of Investigation introduced a system that allows employers and the public to run searches on various criminal databases.

    Available Criminal Searches

    The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation announced the creation of a Criminal History Information Request Portal (CHIRP) to help give the public access to government records. CHIRP allows people to run fingerprint-based criminal searches online. This portal provides three search types:

    · Criminal Background Checks – used to find out if an Oklahoma resident has convictions within the state.
    · Sex Offender Registry (SOR) - used to find out if someone is registered as an offender in Oklahoma.
    · Violent Offender Registry (VOR) – used to find out if a resident has a violent criminal record.

    CHIRP visitors can run searches individually or on all three databases. Visit the online portal.

    Requirements For Requesting Criminal Records

    To run criminal searches, people must first create their own CHIRP account online. Once an account is ready, registered visitors can request a search using the subject’s first and last name plus date of birth. If additional information is known, such as a person’s Social Security Number or maiden name, that can also be included.

    Criminal searches are $15 and the database searches are $2 each. There is also an online convenience fee. Users can include up to 3 aliases for the subject of their criminal records search. Results will be available for 30 days.

    Potential Limitations

    Oklahoma’s online portal appears to provide quick, simple access to criminal records. It is likely, however, to also have certain limitations.

    Fingerprints. CHIRP is a “repository for fingerprint-based criminal history information for the state of Oklahoma.” This means that to find a match, the subject must have a record and fingerprints on file. While we haven’t used the CHIRP system, fingerprints are not always added to state databases every time a record is created. Therefore, it is possible that someone who has a criminal record is not included in the database.

    In-State Only. CHIRP returns criminal records that were incurred in Oklahoma. However, a resident could have convictions in other states. If so, those records would not be found.

    Common Names. CHIRP searches can be run using only a first name, last name and date of birth. Therefore, results could be confusing for people who have the same name and birthdate. A CHIRP user could potentially misidentify a person while using the system.

    What Employers Should Know

    CHIRP was created because it’s important for people to know if someone with whom they may work or interact has a violent, sexual or other serious criminal conviction. This is especially important for employers. The people you allow to represent your brand are also your responsibility. It is essential to perform due diligence and run comprehensive criminal background checks on any person before bringing them on board.

    Backgrounds Online offers criminal searches on county, state and national levels. We also provide searches on multiple sex offender registries. Take advantage of these options to learn if a candidate you are considering incurred a criminal record anywhere in the United States.

    Our experienced team can help you build custom background check packages that suit all of your hiring and industry needs. When you’re ready to get started, please contact us for expert assistance. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.