October 08, 2019Every 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.
October 01, 2019Residents 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.
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 KnowNow 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.
September 24, 2019To 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.
September 17, 2019The 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.
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.
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.
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.
September 10, 2019A 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.
September 03, 2019The 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.
August 27, 2019RI 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.
August 20, 2019In an attempt to fight wage discrimination, CO passed a bill that prohibits employers from asking applicants about their salary history.Backgrounds Online | August 20, 2019
In an attempt to fight wage discrimination, CO passed a bill that prohibits employers from asking applicants about their salary history.
About The Bill
Colorado Senate Bill 85 (SB85) is known as the Equal Work Act. It prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees because of their gender.
Women are commonly paid less than their male counterparts even when they do comparable work under comparable circumstances. When employers rely on a person’s previous salary to determine what level of compensation to offer, this issue tends to continue. An individual who is currently making less than others due to their gender or another protected factor is therefore unlikely to receive the compensation amount they deserve.
To help remedy this, SB85 states that Colorado employers:
· Are prohibited from discriminating against any employee or job seeker due to their gender.
· May not pay one employee less than another if they do substantially similar work under similar circumstances.
· May not ask applicants about their current or previous salary.
- If they are aware of a person’s salary, then they may not use that information to help determine what level of compensation to offer.
· Are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against candidates for not divulging their salary history.
SB85 does provide some exceptions to these laws. Employers may adjust compensation amounts based on bona fide business factors including:
· A merit system.
· The cost of living based on geographic location.
· Applicants having varying levels of experience and education.
· An internal system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.
· Whether or not travel is required for the position.
What Colorado Employers Should Know
Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 85 in May, 2019. It goes into effect on January 1, 2021. Employers in the Centennial State should be aware of this law and prepared for compliance.
Backgrounds Online recommends that every employer maintain written hiring and background screening policies. Organizations in Colorado may wish to update their internal documentation to show they are planning for compliance with SB85. Every employer is further encouraged to seek advice from legal counsel when creating and documenting these policies to ensure they comply with relevant federal, state and local laws.
Anti Wage Discrimination Laws Are Spreading
Employers throughout the nation should be aware that laws which prohibit asking applicants about their salary history are becoming more common. We’ve seen them implemented in multiple areas and more are expected to be passed. Best practice is to get ahead of these laws by not asking job seekers about their current compensation and taking steps to ensure every part of your hiring process is fair and transparent.
We are dedicated to providing compliant background screening forms, useful resources and background check packages that can be customized for any position. When you are ready to run background checks for applicants, contractors, volunteers or employees, please contact us. Our expert team is available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
August 13, 2019A man who has been accused of committing torture and mass executions was allowed to drive for both Uber and Lyft.Backgrounds Online | August 13, 2019
A man who has been accused of committing torture and mass executions was allowed to drive for both Uber and Lyft.
The Alleged War Criminal
Yusuf Abdi Ali was a military commander in Somali many years ago. He stands accused of heinous war crimes including torture and mass murder. Some time back, he left Somali and relocated to Virginia. Reporters from CNN discovered he was working there as an Uber driver. He’d also done some driving for Lyft.
While Ali has not been convicted of any crimes, there are numerous allegations about him from a time when he served under Siad Barre. CNN conducted an investigation and reported that despite the many accusations against him, Ali was allowed to drive passengers for two well-known transportation companies.
Since CNN’s report was released, both Uber and Lyft have publicly announced that they were implementing stronger background screening policies. This includes running comprehensive criminal records searches and annual screenings that show if a current driver incurs a new record. Uber also released a statement to say they are establishing a policy that prohibits the hiring of drivers who have been charged with serious offenses.
CNN Spoke With Ali
Ali told a CNN representative that it was easy to get a job with Uber. He was asked to authorize a background check, but within a couple days was cleared for duty. After working for about 18 months, Ali earned a 4.80 rating and was listed as a “Pro Diamond Driver.”
CNN also discovered that Ali is fighting a civil suit from a man who claims to have been one of his victims. Farhan Mohamoud Tani Warfaa alleges that Ali tortured and shot him. He claims that his family bribed other soldiers to spare his life. This case has been filed in a Virginia federal court. The suit alleges that Ali created a "brutal counterinsurgency campaign that refused to distinguish between civilians and combatants."
Uber And Lyft Respond
After CNN released their story, Uber suspended Ali’s access to the Driver’s app. Though he had not driven for them in quite some time, Lyft permanently banned Ali from their platform.
A spokesperson from Lyft commented on this story: "The safety of our community is our top priority and we are horrified by the allegations described. Before giving a ride on the Lyft platform, all driver-applicants are screened for criminal offenses and driving incidents in the United States."
The Urgency Of Comprehensive Background Checks
Uber has implemented stronger background screening policies in recent times. Stories like the one from CNN cause people to wonder if their practices are strict enough. A representative who is involved in Uber’s background screening process commented that their reports only include “criminal records that have been adjudicated in a court of law” and would not contain “pending civil litigation due to its subjective nature."
Hiring someone who has a serious criminal history could result in a loss of trust for any brand. It is essential to be able to show that your business performed due diligence by running comprehensive background checks. These reports help employers determine a candidate’s eligibility and qualifications. They also inform the employer if an applicant has violent or otherwise serious criminal convictions.
If you need to run background checks to protect your organization, please contact us. Our experienced team can help you build custom screening packages that help you make informed decisions and create a safe work environment. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
August 6, 2019Multiple states are cracking down on employers who violate Ban the Box and related laws.Backgrounds Online | August 06, 2019
Multiple states are cracking down on employers who violate Ban the Box and related laws.
About Second Chance Laws
Millions of Americans have criminal records. While some are serious enough to make a person ineligible for many jobs, most convictions are minor. They are not cause to deny employment. However, until recently, people who had any type of criminal record often experienced great difficulty while attempting to re-enter the workforce.
Second Chance Laws are created to help people with minor or outdated criminal records. Most prohibit employers from asking questions about arrests and convictions on job applications. People who are required to indicate they have a record at the beginning of a hiring process are unlikely to receive consideration, regardless of whether the conviction has any relevancy to the position.
Every employer is still encouraged to run comprehensive background checks when hiring or making related business decisions. These reports show if a candidate has the necessary employment history, education and any mandatory licenses or credentials. They also show if the person has a serious conviction that indicates they may pose a risk to a business, customers or the public.
Numerous states, cities and counties have implemented Ban the Box and other Second Chance laws. Employers are expected to follow them … but what happens if they do not? More locations are cracking down on organizations that violate these laws. New York and Massachusetts provide strong examples of this.
Employers In New York
New York has a law called The Fair Chance Act. It is a Ban the Box style law that prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer is extended. NY employers are required to consider each conviction individually to assess whether or not it makes the applicant ineligible for hire.
If an employer determines that a job seeker’s criminal history warrants revoking of a conditional offer, they must document why. The Empire State has some of the strictest Second Chance laws on the books. Employers who are found to violate those laws may be subjected to hefty penalties.
In one notable case, a New York employer refused to re-hire a vocational counselor due to a felony from the 1990’s. The former employee sued and was granted $196,624. While this is the largest amount levied against an employer in New York, many others have faced similar situations and been fined for violating state law.
Employers In Massachusetts
Massachusetts implemented a Ban the Box bill known as An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform in 2010. It creates limits regarding when employers may ask about criminal records and what type of records they may consider. In 2019, the state government is actively pursuing organizations that are found to violate this law.
The state’s Attorney General (AG) is said to have sent warning letters to various companies about potential violations. At least two employers have been required to pay $5,000 in fines for failure to adhere to Massachusetts’ Second Chance laws. The AG commented on these efforts: “Too many people who have paid their debt to society still face barriers to even landing an interview. These actions are an effort to give all job applicants a fair chance.”
Prepare For Compliance
Are Second Chance Laws active where you operate? If so, do you have policies in place to ensure compliance? Every employer should have written hiring and background screening policies. When applicable, they should include Second Chance laws. National employers may have various laws to contend with based on the locations where they operate.
Best practice is to prepare for compliance by removing questions about criminal histories from all job applications and to consider relevant factors about convictions found in background checks. This includes how long ago an offense occurred, if it impacts the person’s ability to handle a position and whether or not the individual poses a threat to the company or public. While not every criminal record is enough to warrant denial of employment, employers must perform due diligence and avoid hiring individuals who are a known risk.
If you’re ready to run background checks that help you make informed decisions and create a safe workplace, please contact us. Our experienced team makes efforts to keep up with relevant laws throughout the country and can help you build background screening packages that are ideal for any position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
July 30, 2019The airline was hit with a class action suit that consisted of around 44,100 members.Backgrounds Online | July 30, 2019
The airline was hit with a class-action suit that consisted of around 44,100 members.
About The Lawsuit
A class-action lawsuit against Delta Air Lines alleged the employer did not provide compliant disclosure and authorization documents to job seekers. These documents inform the recipient that an employer wishes to run a background check on them and request written authorization. They are mandated by a federal law called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
This case is known as Schofield v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. According to the lawsuit, the forms provided by Delta were unclear and contained unnecessary information. These accusations represent alleged violations of FCRA laws.
FCRA Compliant Disclosures
The FCRA stipulates that disclosure and authorization documents must be clear and unambiguous. They may not contain any additional content or confusing language. These documents must be provided to and be signed by job seekers or employees before a background check can be run.
Many employers add liability waivers, job requirements and other information on these forms. Having any unclear or additional text could lead to a class action suit like the one filed against Delta. We see numerous lawsuits because of this each year.
If a background check will include information about the subject’s reputation, characteristics or related factors, then an investigative consumer report is required. In this case, a different type of disclosure is used. That form explains what type of information may be included in the background check report. It’s also important to note that California has specific requirements for disclosures.
Delta Files For A Summary Judgment
The case against Delta was heard at the San Francisco Superior Court. Afterwards, the employer requested a summary judgment on their behalf. Their reasoning was the allegations against them should be cleared due to a statute of limitations. This case began more than two years after the background screening of these plaintiffs occurred.
Delta’s motion was not opposed and the airline reached a settlement. The total amount the airline will pay is $2.3 million. About 25 - 33% will go to the plaintiff’s counsel and the rest will be divided between the 44,100 or so class action members.
What Employers Should Know
Every employer should be aware of federal regulations regarding the background screening process. Before running a background check, an employer must provide the applicant, employee, volunteer or contractor with standalone disclosure and authorization documents. As many employers have learned the hard way, these documents must be clear and not contain any content other than what is needed to disclose the intent to run a background check and request consent.
Backgrounds Online provides sample disclosure and authorization documents for our clients. They are concise and do not include any unnecessary language. Login to your account to download them and customize as needed.
When you are ready to run compliant background checks for your organization, please contact us. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
July 23, 2019To help protect students, New York introduced a bill that requires fingerprinting and background checks for every school employee.Backgrounds Online | July 23, 2019
To help protect students, New York introduced a bill that requires fingerprinting and background checks for every school employee.
About The Bill
The New York Senate approved Bill 3335 (SB3335). It stipulates that all non-public and private elementary and secondary schools must require job seekers to authorize/pass a fingerprinting and criminal background check before they can be hired.
The State Commissioner is creating a form for educational facilities to use during the hiring process. It asks the candidate to provide consent for a background screening and explains how any information returned could be used. If this bill is signed by the Governor, it would update hiring policies for every potential school employee in New York.
According to the bill, an employee is defined as: “any prospective employee of a nonpublic or private elementary or secondary school or employee of a contracted service provider or worker placed within such school under a public assistance employment program for the provision of services to such school, its students or employees, directly or through contract, whereby such services performed by such person involve direct student contact.”
The goal of this bill is to create stronger protections for students. One news source reported that the idea for the bill came from a terrifying situation in New Orleans. Allegedly, a teacher with two indecent exposure convictions was hired to work with children. No background check was run on him, so the school remained unaware of the individual’s criminal history and status as a registered sexual offender.
SB3335 seeks to ensure that nothing like this can occur in New York. Read the text of this bill.
Background Checks Are A Security Tool
Employers run background checks for many reasons. One of the most important is to watch for serious criminal records. Hiring someone who has violent or sexual convictions cwould unnecessarily put your customers, employees and the public at risk.
If your organization hired someone who had a serious conviction, like the teacher in New Orleans, it would lead to questions about your safety protocols. Running background checks shows you are performing due diligence and taking steps to avoid hiring risky candidates.
Every background check can be customized to better suit the position for which you are hiring. For example: if a potential employee would work with children or another vulnerable population, then it is essential to run a comprehensive suite of criminal checks. This includes county, state and national searches as well as searches on sex offender registries.
When You Are Hiring
Before you bring on a new employee, contractor or volunteer, have them authorize a background screening. This protects you, your brand, your employees and the people you serve. Hiring someone with a serious criminal history could lead to a loss of trust in your organization as well as potential legal repercussions.
When you ready to hire, please contact us. Our team is well-trained at creating background check packages for every type of position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
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