Backgrounds Online Blog

  • Officer Faces Felony Charge For Unauthorized Background Check

    November 12, 2019
    After running a background check without a permissible purpose, a police officer faces a serious criminal charge.
    Backgrounds Online | November 12, 2019


    After running a background check without a permissible purpose, a police officer faces a serious criminal charge.

    The Story

    A police officer in Peoria, Arizona stands accused of wrongfully running a background check on a citizen. Allegedly, the officer agreed to look up information about a woman at the request of a friend. This friend was reportedly interested in dating a co-worker but first wanted to know if she has a criminal record.

    The officer allegedly provided a completed background report to his friend. After reviewing, that friend approached the woman he hoped to date and referenced a personal experience which he should not have known. When asked how he got that information, the man shared the story of what happened.

    Soon after, the co-worker called local police and filed a complaint.

    Background Searches Are Tracked

    This incident was investigated immediately. Another Peoria officer, Brandon Sheffert, mentioned that the station performs quarterly audits on the use of their background checking system. He said they have tracking in place to help prevent misuse.

    Sheffert told a local news source: "That entire system is tracked, so if they start to see someone starting to run famous people for instance, that will flag over DPS. They’ll give us a call and say can you check on this, and that’s when our professional standards unit will get involved."

    Officers are permitted to run license plates while on active duty, but they are not allowed to run background checks on individuals without cause. The officer who stands accused of running an unauthorized background report faces a class six felony charge. He was placed on administrative leave and later resigned.

    Permissible Purpose

    Before any person or organization runs a background check, they must have a permissible purpose. Police officers run them for a variety of valid reasons – but not because they simply want to look up information about someone for themselves or a friend.

    The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) establishes a permissible purpose for employers. It says that an organization may run a background check on an applicant or employee to determine the person’s eligibility for employment, retention, promotion or a related business purpose. An employer cannot run a background check on an individual for non-permissible reasons. Doing so could lead to criminal and other charges such as those facing the now former officer in Peoria.

    Until an employer is vetted and shown to have a permissible purpose, a reputable Consumer Reporting Agency, like Backgrounds Online, will not conduct background investigations on their behalf.

    Employers Should Know

    In addition to having a permissible purpose, employers must provide a disclosure and authorization form to any person they wish to background check. Employers must also certify that they will follow federal and state laws throughout the hiring and background screening process.

    Backgrounds Online ensures our customers have a permissible purpose and we provide sample copies of the compliance documents that are required when running background checks. If you are bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. Our experienced team will setup your account and prepare you to start running reports that help you make informed decisions, create a safe workplace and demonstrate you are performing due diligence.

    Our experienced, professional team is available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT to assist with all of your background screening needs.

  • A Newspaper In New Mexico Hired A Convicted Sex Offender​

    November 05, 2019
    After a reporter was hired to cover stories at local schools, it was discovered that the person was listed on a sex offender registry.
    Backgrounds Online | November 05, 2019


    After a reporter was hired to cover stories at local schools, it was discovered that the person was listed on a sex offender registry.

    Sex Offender Hired As A Reporter

    A publication in New Mexico called The Gallup Independent hired a new employee as an education reporter. They did not realize that this individual had a serious criminal record. He has been charged with possessing child pornography and sexually assaulting a minor.

    Once the employee’s past was revealed, the Independent published a story that said they were unaware of the man’s criminal background. They suggested the staff was not at fault for bringing him on because their procedures had been followed as expected. According to their story, an active state law was the reason they were unable to learn about the individual’s record.

    Ban The Box Blamed

    New Mexico, like many other states, has a Ban the Box law in place. This is part of a Second Chance movement in America that is designed to help people with minor or outdated criminal records find employment. While these laws are not consistent, the basic idea is that employers are prohibited from asking questions about arrests or convictions on job applications.

    The goal of the Second Chance movement is to prevent employers from automatically disqualifying applicants who have any type of criminal record. If someone indicates they have a conviction on their application, that person is unlikely to receive further consideration.

    However, millions of Americans have minor criminal records that do not make them ineligible for most positions. By ‘banning the box’, employers gain an opportunity to learn about an applicant’s qualifications and then discover if a person has a criminal past. Employers should use all relevant details to help them make informed business decisions.

    Criminal Records Searches In Ban The Box States

    Although the Independent suggested they could not know about their hire’s criminal past because New Mexico is a Ban the Box state, that law does not prohibit employers from running background checks. In fact, every employer is encouraged to conduct comprehensive criminal searches prior to bringing on any employee, contractor or volunteer.

    Ban the Box laws sometimes include details about when background checks should be run. Most often, this will occur after an interview or a conditional job offer. New Mexico Senator Bill O’Neill, who sponsored the bill, spoke to this fact. He said the state’s Ban the Box law does not “affect an employer's responsibility to look into criminal history.” He also expressed surprise that the publication used the law as a reason to not check a potential employee’s background.

    An Obligation To Safety

    When an organization brings on any person to represent their brand, they should first perform all due diligence to ensure that individual doesn’t pose a threat to their staff, customers or the public. Not doing so could put the people you serve at risk. The story in New Mexico provides a startling example of this fact.

    Before you hire anyone, take the necessary precautions to create a safe workplace by running a criminal background check. Use it to make informed decisions and find the right people for your brand. The team at Backgrounds Online can help you create background screening packages that are perfectly tailored for any position. Contact us for more information and to start running background checks today.

  • DoorDash Accused Of Inadequate Screening Policies​

    October 29, 2019
    The on-demand provider allegedly failed to properly background check a driver who reportedly stabbed a customer while on the job.
    Backgrounds Online | October 29, 2019


    The on-demand provider allegedly failed to properly background check a driver who reportedly stabbed a customer while on the job.

    A Stabbing

    The owner of a restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada was allegedly stabbed by a DoorDash driver. Fabio Coppola says he knocked on the driver’s window to let him know that his order was ready for pickup. Allegedly, the driver became agitated and stabbed Copolla without provocation.

    Copolla filed a negligent hiring lawsuit against the on-demand service provider following this incident. It stated that DoorDash hired someone who is a “felon with a history of violence and mental illness.”

    The Lawsuit

    Richard Schonfeld is the attorney representing Copolla. Schonfeld believes DoorDash is guilty of not performing due diligence and failing to thoroughly background screen people who are allowed to represent their brand as drivers. He stated: “DoorDash’s flawed background check policy almost cost Mr. Coppola his life.”

    Following the stabbing, the driver was arrested and held on charges of attempted murder. According to a report filed by a Los Angeles based news agency, the driver has a serious criminal history. It includes previous convictions for attempted robbery, forgery, and drug conspiracy. Their article further stated that, due to his record, the driver had also been required to undergo a mental health evaluation.

    A person with this history, the lawsuit alleged, should not be eligible to drive for DoorDash.

    DoorDash Reacts

    After news of this story broke, DoorDash officially dismissed this driver. The company released a statement that said: “We sincerely regret that this incident fell short of the experience we strive to give our customers every day.”

    The lawsuit against DoorDash is based on a claim of negligent hiring. This concept allows consumers to sue businesses if there is a reason to believe an employer hired someone who may be deemed a risk, dishonest or unqualified. Several other well-known on-demand service providers have also faced lawsuits for negligent hiring allegations.

    The Importance Of Thorough Background Screening

    DoorDash reportedly does background screen the people they bring on as employees and contractors. However, background checks are highly customizable tools that can be tailored for everything from entry-level jobs to positions that involve working with vulnerable populations.

    If a thorough background investigation would have been conducted, it could have returned data about convictions held by the driver. If only a minimal background report was acquired, it may not have included all the details hiring managers needed to make an informed decision.

    It is essential for every employer to perform due diligence by running comprehensive background check packages that include county, state and additional criminal searches. These reports show employers if a candidate has a serious criminal history that might make them a danger to other employees and the public. Hiring someone with a violent criminal past could make your organization vulnerable to charges like negligent hiring.

    Before you make any hiring decision, run a background check to obtain the information you need to create a safe work environment. The team at Backgrounds Online can help you customize background screening packages that are ideal for any position in your industry. Contact us for expert assistance Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • ​Study Shows Employers Paid Millions For Improper Screening​

    October 22, 2019
    Every employer is responsible for background screening applicants, contractors and volunteers. Not following federal laws during this process can be costly.
    Backgrounds Online | October 22, 2019


    Every employer is responsible for background screening applicants, contractors and volunteers. Not following federal laws during this process can be costly.

    Lawsuits For Violations Of Background Check Laws

    A report produced by the Benefits Pro website discussed fines that have been levied against employers for improper background screening practices. The majority of these fines came from class action lawsuits, which can include a large number of plaintiffs. Employers that do not follow laws established by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and state or local government agencies could be required to pay significant sums.

    According to the Benefits Pro report, employers are sued for mistakes that could easily be avoided. Three of the most common were:

    Failure to obtain authorization. Background checks are an essential part of every employer’s due diligence process. An organization must first disclose their intent to conduct a background screening and obtain consent. Until a person provides written authorization, a background screening cannot proceed. Learn more.

    Failure to follow the FCRA-mandated adverse action process. A background check may contain information that causes an organization to consider not hiring a candidate. Before denying employment, the employer must send a pre-adverse notice and give the recipient time to dispute. If no dispute is filed, then the employer may complete the process by sending an adverse notice. Learn more.

    Failure to follow state laws. Most states have their own laws that cover employment and hiring practices. They include Ban the Box and other Second Chance policies, Anti-Wage Discrimination laws and more. Not following them can result in lawsuits and fines.

    Cost To Employers

    The Benefits Pro article utilized a tracking tool and determined that within the last ten years, employers have paid over $174 million in damages for violating employment-related laws. It also concluded that more than 40 employers have been fined $1 million plus for violations. Notable payouts included:

    · Target Corp. was fined $8.5 million.
    · Uber Technologies was fined $7.5 million.
    · Amazon.com Inc. was fined $5 million.
    · The Home Depot Inc. was fined $3 million.
    · Wells Fargo & Co. was given one of the largest fines for violations - $12 million.

    Ensure Compliance When Background Screening

    Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid violations and therefore lawsuits and fines. A great way to help accomplish this is to work with a Consumer Reporting Agency that is accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), which was formerly the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). CRAs provide sample compliance forms, educational resources and background checks that only contain current, accurate and reportable information.

    Backgrounds Online offers sample compliance forms in our convenient Resource Center. We also provide sample pre-adverse and adverse notices. If a consumer files a dispute, resolving it becomes our top priority. Our team excels at keeping up with laws that affect our clients wherever they operate. We also provide a variety of educational resources through this blog, Education Center and monthly Newsletter.

    When bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, make sure you are compliant with all relevant laws. We recommend maintaining written screening policies that detail when and how you will run background checks, what you are looking for in the results and how you will proceed if you encounter adverse information. When you’re ready to get started, please contact us. Every member of our processing team earns their FCRA certification, is highly trained and ready to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Nevada And NYC Passed Laws About Screening For Marijuana​

    October 15, 2019
    New York City and Nevada are the first city and state to prohibit employers from considering marijuana in drug screening tests.
    Backgrounds Online | October 15, 2019


    New York City and Nevada are the first city and state to prohibit employers from considering marijuana in drug screening tests.

    Nevada State Law

    As of January 2020, employers in Nevada will be prohibited from disqualifying job seekers due to marijuana usage. Governor Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 132 (AB132) into law on June 5, 2019.

    AB132 specifies “It is unlawful for any employer in this State to fail or refuse to hire a prospective employee because the prospective employee submitted to a screening test and the results of the screening test indicate the presence of marijuana.”

    There are exceptions to this law. Employers may still consider evidence of marijuana usage when hiring:
    · Firefighters.
    · Emergency Medical Technicians.
    · Positions that require the operation of motor vehicles.
    · Positions that the employer has reason to believe could “adversely affect the safety of others.”

    The law also states that if a new employee is required to go through a drug test within their first 30 days, they have the right to a follow-up screening. The employee must conduct the second screening at their own expense. Once completed, the individual may use the second test to rebut results of the first.

    Governor Sisolak spoke in favor of the new law. He said: “As our legal cannabis industry continues to flourish, it’s important to ensure that the door of economic opportunity remains open for all Nevadans. That’s why I was proud to sign AB 132 into law, which contains common-sense exceptions for public safety and transportation professionals.”

    Read the bill.

    New York City Law

    The New York City Council voted heavily in favor of Initiative 1445, which prohibits employers from testing applicants and employees for marijuana usage. A vote tally showed that the bill passed with a 40 – 4 count.

    This bill specifically covers employment and pre-employment drug testing. It creates the following prohibition: “Except as otherwise provided by law, it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.”

    There are exemptions for certain positions in New York City. Employers who are hiring for the following may still include marijuana when drug screening potential workers:
    · Police Officers.
    · Emergency responders.
    · Lifeguards.
    · Positions that require a security clearance under federal or state law.
    · Positions that require the operation of heavy equipment or a motorized vehicle.
    · Any position for which the federal government requires drug testing that includes marijuana.
    · Any position “determined by the commission in consultation with the department of citywide administrative services.”

    The law goes into effect in May 2020. Read the bill.

    Running Background Checks And Drug Screenings

    Every employer is encouraged to run background checks. These reports provide information hiring managers need to make informed decisions and create a safe workplace. Any employer that wishes to run a drug screen as part of their background investigation must first be authorized to do so and then proceed according to laws where they operate.

    Backgrounds Online offers 3 levels of drug testing. To learn what services are available, click the plus sign in the Drug Screening section here.

    If you have questions about drug testing, background checks or anything else related to screening employees, contractors, applicants and volunteers, please contact us. Our team is experienced and available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Duluth MN Schools Bolster Background Screening Policies​

    October 08, 2019
    Every applicant at a Duluth, Minnesota school must authorize and pass a background check before their first day on the job.
    Backgrounds Online | October 08, 2019


    Every applicant at a Duluth, Minnesota school must authorize and pass a background check before their first day on the job.

    The District’s Background Screening Policy

    In May, 2019 the Duluth School District agreed on an updated policy that requires applicants to pass a background check before they can start working. Previously, candidates were screened but could potentially begin their jobs before results were available.

    To prevent this, the District revised Policy 4042, which has the goal of maintaining a “safe and healthful environment in the school district in order to promote the physical, social, and psychological well-being of its students.” It stipulates the district will run criminal background checks on all applicants who receive a conditional offer of employment.

    The results of each screening will help determine whether or not a person can be hired. No candidate will be authorized to work until a final decision is made based on the person’s qualifications, eligibility and background check results.

    These background checks will include a search on national sex offender registries and the Minnesota Public Criminal History website, plus other components as deemed necessary. Policy 4042 clarifies that background checks should also be run on potential school volunteers.

    Duluth Schools Won’t User Fingerprint Checks

    District HR Manager Tim Sworsky said that schools will rely on background check reports instead of fingerprinting. While he believes fingerprint checks are worthwhile, they also have certain limitations. According to Sworsky, “Fingerprinting is not a bad thing, it just means that there are two individuals with similar names or birth dates, but that could require an additional three weeks."

    Fingerprinting only pulls records that are available within the selected state. If a candidate has criminal records from other states, they are not included in the report. By using a comprehensive background check, the district can run multiple state, national and other criminal searches.

    What Prompted These Changes

    The district started reviewing and updating their hiring policies following an incident at a local High School. A person with a questionable record had been approved as a volunteer. Since this person was not an employee, no background investigation was conducted.

    In addition to concerns about volunteers, the district wanted to ensure that no person is allowed to start as an employee before their background check is completed and reviewed. In the past, seemingly qualified candidates may have received start dates before their background results were available. Sworsky referenced this during an interview with a local publication: "The issue about not being able to start employees before receiving their background checks is we can't give them a firm start date, they can't give an offer of resignation to their current employer.”

    Sworsky feels that having stronger background screening policies will help bolster security efforts. It also shows the District is performing due diligence to ensure they only hire safe, reliable individuals.

    The Importance Of Background Screening

    Every employer is responsible for the people they allow to represent them. Bringing on an employee, contractor or volunteer who has a serious criminal record could put your employees, customers and others at risk. By running background checks you are showing a commitment to safety and making informed hiring decisions.

    When you’re ready to run background checks, please contact us. Our experienced team will help you create background screening packages that are ideal for any position based on the scope of a job and the candidate’s history. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • New Expungement Laws For West Virginia

    October 01, 2019
    Residents of West Virginia have new opportunities to expunge certain types of criminal records.
    Backgrounds Online | October 01, 2019


    Residents of West Virginia have new opportunities to expunge certain types of criminal records.

    About The Bill

    West Virginia passed Senate Bill 152 (SB152), which establishes policies for residents to have non-violent convictions expunged. Once a record is expunged, it’s treated as if it never existed. The record cannot be considered by employers, landlords or for any other business purpose.

    SB152 established policies regarding when a resident may submit an expungement request for misdemeanors and felonies.
    · One Misdemeanor. The person may submit one year after completing any sentence of incarceration or period of supervision, whichever is later.
    · Multiple Misdemeanors. The person may submit after two years.
    · Non-Violent Felonies. The person may submit after five years.

    Read the bill.

    Support For SB152

    Senator Glenn Jefferies was the lead sponsor of this bill. He submitted a Press Release that said: “I am very grateful that the West Virginia Legislature passed nearly unanimously and the Governor signed this important legislation to update the law originally passed in 2017. The process to qualify for an expungement or seal of records is not easy; we have put many safeguards in place to protect the public.”

    In addition to the Legislature, other notable West Virginia leaders showed their support. Prosecuting Attorneys Catie Wilkes Delligatti and Matt Harvey both spoke in favor of SB152. Delligatti was quoted as saying: “The new law strikes a good balance between restoring the reputation of individuals who have worked to improve their situation and ensuring that consequences remain on the records of violent offenders who could present a danger to our community.”

    What West Virginia Employers Should Know

    Now that SB152 is active, more West Virginia residents are likely to have criminal records expunged. Once that occurs, employers cannot review or consider those records when making any type of hiring or business decision.

    Hiring managers must be careful to ensure they do not inadvertently consider records that are no longer valid. To help accomplish this, all employers are encouraged to utilize the services of an Accredited Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA). A CRA has quality assurance steps in place so they only provide current, accurate and reportable records on background checks.

    Second Chance Laws And Background Screening

    West Virginia’s bill is part of a growing Second Chance movement in the United States. Millions of Americans have criminal records. Having any type of conviction, even if it is minor and outdated, can be a hindrance to people when they are trying to find a place to work or live. Second Chance laws are intended to help people who are not deemed a security risk to find jobs and other basic necessities.

    Every employer must be aware of and compliant with laws that are in effect where they operate. Backgrounds Online helps you with those efforts by providing educational resources, compliant forms and background reports that only contain information you can legally use to make informed business decisions and create a safe workplace.

    When you are preparing to bring on employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us please contact us. Our team can help you create custom background screening packages for any position and provide reports that help you build strong, reliable teams. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • The NAPBS Is Now The PBSA​

    September 24, 2019
    To demonstrate their commitment to global background screening best practices, the NAPBS announced a name and logo change.
    Backgrounds Online | September 24, 2019


    To demonstrate their commitment to global background screening best practices, the NAPBS announced a name and logo change.

    What Is The PBSA?

    The PBSA is the Professional Background Screening Association. It is the same organization as the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). Their updated name is intended to reflect the “boundaryless nature” of the industry and show they are a “truly global association.”

    This change was announced on September 9, 2019 and became effective immediately. The organization also has a new logo that symbolizes their global reach. Members of the NAPBS have been diligently working towards this goal for years. A final vote on their updated bylaws and membership structure occurred at an industry convention held in San Antonio, Texas. Voters also overwhelmingly approved and applauded the new name and logo.

    What This Means For Employers

    Background screening has become an increasingly global effort. Employers can take advantage of international background checks when searching for the best people to build strong teams. Before hiring someone who resides in another country or a U.S. citizen who lived overseas for an extended period of time, it is important for employers to perform due diligence by running criminal and other international searches.

    The PBSA is committed to ensuring a high level of background screening integrity on an international level. Employers can rest assured that Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) which are accredited by the PBSA have proven they meet the standards established for compliance, product quality, business practices and other key areas.

    What This Means For Us

    Backgrounds Online has been accredited by the NAPBS for many years. In 2019, we are voluntarily undergoing a new and more stringent audit to maintain our accreditation. We’re doing this to show our dedication to operating with integrity while complying with all relevant national and international background screening laws and best practices.

    Our team produces compliant background checks that employers can rely on when they want to find well-qualified employees, contractors or volunteers; create safe work environments; and perform due diligence.

    We are also active within the PBSA. Members of our team participate in monthly best practices calls, attend PBSA conferences and continue to be leaders in the background screening industry.

    Global Background Screening

    PBSA Chair Bon Idziak spoke about the recent changes: “The new PBSA brand speaks to our ability to transcend borders and symbolizes our modern approach to screening, privacy, and data security, and the technology our industry embodies.”
    Melissa Sorenson, Executive Director of the PBSA is excited about this change and added that the PBSA already has a “significant international footprint” that will continue to grow.

    Whether you need international background checks, criminal searches in a single state or fully customized background screening packages, Backgrounds Online can provide you with comprehensive reports that help you make informed decisions. When you’re ready to start screening, please contact us for expert assistance. We are an accredited CRA 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.

  • Illinois Employers May Not Ask About Salary Histor​y

    September 17, 2019
    The Governor of IL signed a bill that updated the Equal Act Pay of 2003 and prohibits employers from paying employees different wages due to their gender or race.
    Backgrounds Online | September 17, 2019


    The Governor of IL signed a bill that updated the Equal Act Pay of 2003 and prohibits employers from paying employees different wages due to their gender or race.

    About The Bill

    In 2003, Illinois implemented an Equal Pay Act to prevent wage discrimination. It stated that employers may not “discriminate between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to an employee at a rate less than the rate at which the employer pays wages to another employee of the opposite sex for the same or substantially similar work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.”

    House Bill 834 (HB834) updates that law and prohibits employers from paying employees who do comparable work different salaries due to their gender, race or other protected factors. To help accomplish this, HB834 prohibits employers from asking applicants about their current or previous salary. This includes all wages and other forms of compensation. The bill states that employers may not require an applicant to currently earn a specific salary level to be eligible for a position.

    According to HB834, if a job seeker voluntarily discloses their current salary, the employer is still prohibited from using that information when determining what salary and other compensation to offer.

    HB834 also stipulates that employees are allowed to discuss their wages with co-workers. If an employee chooses to do this, the employer may not discharge or otherwise retaliate against that person in any way. It further specifies that an individual who has access to compensation amounts for all employees may not discuss such information unless they are granted permission from each person involved.

    Exceptions

    Employers may provide varying levels of compensation for employees who do comparable work under certain circumstances. They include:
    · A merit system.
    · A system that measures “earnings by quantity or quality of production.”
    · A seniority system.
    · To accommodate the cost of living based on geographical location.

    Violations

    Illinois employers who violate HB834 could be subjected to penalties:
    · An employee who earned less than others that do comparable work may be able to recover the amount they were underpaid.
    · Employers may be liable for additional compensatory damages if they are found to have acted with malice or reckless indifference.
    · Reasonable costs and attorney fees may also be passed on to an employer for confirmed violations.

    Read the bill.

    Salary Bans Are Becoming Common

    We’ve seen several states and cities pass laws that prohibit employers from asking candidates about their salary. The goal is always to prevent wage discrimination based on gender, ethnicity and other protected factors.

    If a person is already receiving a lower rate of pay due to a discriminatory factor, that situation is likely to continue if a prospective employer bases an offer on the individual’s current earnings. Best practice is for employers to not rely on an applicant’s salary history when determining compensation, even if no law requires them to do so.

    Keeping Up With Relevant State Laws

    Every employer must be aware of and compliant with laws that are active where they operate. We recommend documenting your hiring and background screening policies and keeping them updated. Consult with your legal counsel to determine which laws are applicable for you.

    Backgrounds Online endeavors to help educate our clients with information about new and upcoming laws. We also offer compliant forms and background check packages that can be customized based on your specific needs. When you’re ready to run background checks on applicants, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. Our highly trained staff is here to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • 7-Eleven To Pay Nearly $2M For Alleged FCRA Violations​

    September 10, 2019
    A class action lawsuit against 7-11 claimed the convenience store chain did not properly disclose their intent to run background checks.
    Backgrounds Online | September 10, 2019


    A class-action lawsuit against 7-11 claimed the convenience store chain did not properly disclose their intent to run background checks.

    About The Lawsuit

    7-Eleven was hit with a class-action lawsuit that alleged the employer failed to follow FCRA regulations during their hiring process. Specifically, the suit claimed 7-Eleven neglected to provide job seekers with compliant disclosure documents. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) stipulates that a disclosure must be a clear, conspicuous and standalone document that informs the recipient an employer wishes to run a background check on them. It cannot contain confusing language or any additional content.

    According to the suit, the disclosure 7-Eleven provided included information about state laws, details about the Consumer Reporting Agency that would perform a background investigation and a “blanket authorization allowing the disclosure of information directly to 7-Eleven.” This goes against the FCRA mandate for disclosures.

    7-Eleven Agrees To A Settlement

    As the case proceeded, 7-Eleven agreed to a settlement. They will pay $1,972,500 to the participants, of which there are approximately 50,000. This settlement was thought to be the best option for the company as the case appeared to show the employer was “willfully” violating the FCRA.

    The Importance Of A Proper Disclosure

    Every employer must follow federal laws, such as the FCRA, and applicable state laws. Not doing so can lead to lawsuits like the one against 7-Eleven. Employers who settle or are found to violate these laws may be required to pay large fines.

    In recent history, we’ve seen numerous lawsuits against employers for similar violations. This can be a massive issue for large organizations. Employers are likely to follow the same procedures for hundreds or thousands of applicants. This can result in class-action lawsuits with hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs. Luckily, it’s easy for employers to remain compliant with FCRA laws.

    Takeaway For Employers

    Before running a background check, every employer must provide the applicants with a standalone disclosure and authorization document. Both must be concise and devoid of any additional content. Backgrounds Online provides sample forms that our clients can use and customize as needed. Learn more about disclosures.

    We do not offer legal advice, but we do provide educational resources that can help during your hiring process. Visit our Education Center for more information. We also commonly recommend that every employer document their hiring and screening policies. They should be reviewed and approved by legal counsel to ensure they cover all relevant laws where you operate. Each person who is involved in hiring should have access to the final document.

    When you’re ready to run background checks, the team at Backgrounds Online can help make the process smooth, transparent and fair. Our system makes it easy to fully customize screening packages for any type of position and we provide sample forms for compliance purposes. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact us. We’re available via phone, email or chat Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Madison Square Garden’s $1.3M Background Screening Settlement​

    September 03, 2019
    The employer agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle a class action lawsuit regarding its background screening practices.
    Backgrounds Online | September 03, 2019


    The employer agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle a class-action lawsuit regarding its background screening practices.

    About The Lawsuit

    A class-action lawsuit filed by Clint Millien and Felipe Kelly claimed that Madison Square Garden was utilizing discriminatory hiring practices. The case made two claims against the employer:

    The first alleged that Madison Square Garden denied employment to candidates without providing a copy of their background check. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal law that protects consumers, stipulates that if an employer wishes to take an adverse action based on the results of a background report, the subject must first receive a copy and be given time to file a dispute if necessary. This is done to help ensure that the employer is only considering accurate, current information that can legally

    A second claim alleged that Madison Square Garden had a policy of revoking conditional job offers for applicants who did not disclose a criminal history. This was said to have a “disparate impact on minority applicants.”

    Upon reviewing the claims, Madison Square Garden agreed to settle the case for $1.3 million.

    $1.3 Million Settlement

    The settlement money will be disbursed in the following manner:
    · Each person who was not employed by Madison Square Garden due to a record on their background check will receive $200.
    · People who are able to show they were eligible for hire and would likely have been selected if they had disclosed a criminal record initially will be awarded $1,700 each.
    · $519,800 will be paid as relief to putative members of the class-action lawsuit.
    · An additional $750,000 will be allotted to cover attorney’s fees.

    Madison Square Garden Makes Other Concessions

    In addition to the payout, Madison Square Garden agreed to make changes to their hiring policies. The employer will:
    · Only require candidates to disclose convictions that happened within the last five years.
    · Not revoke conditional job offers because a candidate did not disclose a warrant.
    · Not require candidates to disclose marijuana convictions, unless it was for an intention to sell.
    · Give each applicant a copy of their background check report before denying employment. Job seekers will then have an opportunity to dispute the results of their report if they believe something is inaccurate.
    · Reduce the amount of time that people are required to wait to apply for positions after previously applying.

    Takeaway For Employers

    Employers throughout the United States should be aware of ongoing efforts to help individuals with minor or outdated criminal convictions find employment today. This is part of a Second Chance Movement that includes laws that prohibit employers from asking about convictions on job applications, create easier methods to have old criminal records expunged and more. The primary goals are to help people who are looking for a fresh start after serving their time, reduce the rate of recidivism and give employers more options to find qualified workers.

    Every employer is still encouraged to run comprehensive criminal background checks on all candidates before making any hiring decision. While millions of Americans have minor records that would not make them ineligible for most positions, violent, sexual or other serious convictions do disqualify a person. Employers must be able to show they are performing due diligence to only hire safe, trustworthy individuals who do not pose a risk to other employees, customers or the public.

    When you’re hiring, a background check will give you the facts you need to make informed decisions and create a safe workplace. The team at Backgrounds Online can help you customize background screening packages that are perfectly tailored for any position. Contact us for expert assistance Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Rhode Island Passed An Equal Pay Law​

    August 27, 2019
    RI state legislators approved a bill that enhances existing “Fair Pay” laws by prohibiting employers from asking applicants about their salary history.
    Backgrounds Online | August 27, 2019


    RI state legislators approved a bill that enhances existing “Fair Pay” laws by prohibiting employers from asking applicants about their salary history.

    About The Bill

    The bill states that RI employers may not “pay any of its employees at a wage rate less than the rate paid to employees of another race, color, or gender for equal work.” It specifies that employers cannot rely on an applicant’s wage history or require a job seeker to divulge compensation information. If an applicant volunteers their current salary, the employer may use that information if they wish to increase the level of compensation they previously offered.

    There are exceptions to this law. Employers may adjust wages based on:
    · A seniority system.
    · A merit system.
    · A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.
    · An individual’s level of experience, education or training.
    · Geographical location (to adjust for the cost of living).
    · Other business-related factors.

    Support For The Bill

    Senator Gayle Goldin sponsored the bill and believes it will strengthen existing laws that intend to eliminate wage discrimination in Rhode Island. Goldin said: “Passing this bill is not going to resolve the wage gap on its own, rather, this bill in combination with so many things we have worked on... is the way we will address the gender wage gap.”

    A vote occurred at the Senate and the bill passed with 32 in favor and 4 against. It goes into effect on July 1, 2020. Read the full text.

    Penalties For Violations

    The bill establishes civil penalties for violations. Employers may be liable to pay up to $100 per violation to an aggrieved party.

    When investigating a complaint, the director of the court will: “consider the size of the employer's business, the good faith of the employer, the gravity of the violation, the history of previous violations, and whether or not the violation was an innocent mistake or willful.”

    Fighting Wage Discrimination

    Numerous states have passed laws to help eliminate wage gaps based on gender and other protected factors. A big part of this typically involves prohibiting employers from asking applicants about their previous salary. Millions of Americans currently earn less than others who do comparable work under comparable circumstances. When employers rely on salary history to determine what compensation to offer, this issue continues to persist.

    Best practice is to offer equal pay to employees who do equal work (with some exceptions as mentioned above). Employers should also be aware of any specific wage-related laws where they operate. Contact legal counsel to help ensure your practices are fair and in accordance with relevant laws.

    Stay Compliant During Your Hiring Process

    The team at Backgrounds Online makes efforts to keep up with new and upcoming laws. We publish blog entries, write Newsletters and provide other educational resources to help your compliance efforts. Please note that we do not and cannot provide legal counsel or advice.

    When you’re ready to run background checks that help you make informed hiring decisions and create a safe workplace, please contact us. Our team is here to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.