Backgrounds Online Blog

  • ​Hiring And Background Screening In New York​

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


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

    Making An Offer

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

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

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

    Items To Omit From An Offer Letter

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

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

    Running Background Checks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Staying Compliant

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

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

  • Chicago Public Schools District Parts Ways With Hundreds Of Workers

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


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

    The Results Of Chicago’s Background Checks

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

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

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

    Next Steps For Chicago Public Schools

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

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

    A Call For Annual Background Checks

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

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

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

    Takeaway For Employers

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

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

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

  • Uber Is Not Allwed To Operate In London

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


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

    Why Uber Was Banned From London

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

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

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

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

    Uber Had Been Issued A Temporary License

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

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

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

    The Importance Of Running Comprehensive Background Checks

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

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

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

  • PA School Closed Due To Lack Of Background Checks​

    November 20, 2018
    Classes in the Crestwood School District were cancelled after officials noticed background checks for their bus drivers were not current.
    Backgrounds Online | November 20, 2018


    Classes in the Crestwood School District were cancelled after officials noticed background checks for their bus drivers were not current.

    Outdated Background Checks Cause Safety Concerns

    In October 2018, the Superintendent of Crestwood School District in Pennsylvania announced that schools would be temporarily closed. Bus drivers for this district did not have up-to-date background checks which meant they weren’t “fully certified” to provide transportation for students. The responsibility to ensure drivers are properly screened was said to fall on the school district, not the bus company.

    Because of this situation, officials at Crestwood were “very concerned about the safety of the kids.” School policy mandates that each background check is valid for five years and then a new one is required. Without current and ongoing background checks there is no way for the district to be certain the drivers have not incurred a new criminal record or driving offense that would make them ineligible to remain employed.

    PA Requirements For Bus Drivers

    According to an article in a PA newspaper, schools are required to keep files on every bus driver in the district. The files must include a copy of each person’s driver’s license, an endorsement from the school, results of their annual medical exam and a current criminal background check. In addition, the file must contain a state child abuse clearance document and, if applicable, the person’s arrest and conviction history.

    The Superintendent admitted that many of their files were outdated. Since this was discovered, all of the drivers authorized new background checks. Nearly half of the requests were approved on the first day. The remaining requests were expected to be authorized the following day.

    School Is Disrupted For At Least Two Days

    Schools in the Crestwood district anticipated at least a two-day closure while this was sorted out. State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale held a news conference about this issue. He noted that the responsibility for properly maintaining files and background screening documents on school employees falls on the district’s administrators. He stated: “Because they didn’t do their jobs, students and the parents of that district were now thrown into chaos because of their lack of due diligence.”

    Parents in the district were surprised and upset to learn that schools would be closed unexpectedly. While they can appreciate the efforts being made towards safety, this situation forced people to make last-minute accommodations for children who would have otherwise been attending classes. The district has been called upon to take steps that ensure this does not occur again.

    The Importance Of Ongoing Background Screening

    Background checks are an essential tool for every business. They can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including ensuring that workers remain eligible to be employed. Best practice is to run a comprehensive background check on all potential employees and annual screenings for all active staff.

    Running background checks shows you are taking steps to create a safe work place and making efforts to protect your customers and the public. They are like an economical insurance policy that can help protect your business and prevent issues like the one in the PA Crestwood School District.

    If you have questions about your background screening policies, please contact us. We can help you build a plan that is fair, transparent and shows you are performing your due diligence. Our experienced team is available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm to assist you.

  • New Orleans Passed A Ban The B​ox Law​

    November 13, 2018
    The City Council decreed that city employers and contractor may not include question about criminal records on job applications.
    Backgrounds Online | November 13, 2018


    The city council decreed that city employers and contractors may not include questions about criminal records on job applications.

    The New Orleans Law

    On October 18, 2018 the city of New Orleans announced that they passed a new Ban the Box Ordinance. It prohibits city employers and contractors from including questions about criminal records on their job applications. These employers are still encouraged to run criminal background checks on job seekers, but only after conducting an interview or extending a conditional job offer.

    New Orleans already had a similar law in place that covered classified and unclassified positions for city departments, agencies and boards. This new law expands the scope and goes into effect on March 1, 2019.

    Why They Implemented A Ban The Box Policy

    The primary goal of banning the box is to help people with criminal histories find jobs and, in turn, reduce the likelihood that people will be arrested again. Prior to the Ordinance, applications that New Orleans residents completed in the hopes of landing a job with the city were allowed to ask if the person had a conviction. Individuals who did were asked to check a box. Doing so made it unlikely for them to receive further consideration even if they were highly qualified and eligible for a position.

    The new law prohibits that practice. It gives employers a chance to see the person’s qualifications before learning if they have any criminal history. If a job seeker has a conviction, then the city employer may consider whether or not it is relevant to the position.

    Councilmember Kristin Palmer spoke in favor of the new law. She said: “I've heard personal stories from ex-offenders and their families who remind us that, for far too long our criminal justice system has placed its priorities in punishment and not rehabilitation. Ex-offenders should not serve a life sentence after serving time in prison. This new policy allows them a chance to be considered for employment based on their qualifications and experience related to the position they're applying for and not their past."

    The Growth Of Second Chance Laws

    Millions of Americans have been arrested. While many of these arrests and convictions were for minor offenses, simply having any type of criminal history can make it difficult for people to find jobs. An inability to obtain employment is a major factor for recidivism, which can lead to an ongoing pattern of new arrests and convictions.

    Second chance laws, like banning questions about convictions from job applications, are intended to create a better, safer experience for everyone. People who have convictions from many years ago or were arrested for something minor are given opportunities to rejoin the workforce. Employers receive more chances to find qualified and eligible people for their team.

    Keeping Up With Relevant Laws

    Many states already have second chance laws and more are expected to follow. To help you keep up with these and other relevant regulations, Backgrounds Online maintains a State Law section. When new state laws are passed, they will be added for your convenience. Use this to learn about laws that are in place where you operate.

    If you have questions about your background screening policies, what laws affect you or anything else related to background screening, please contact us. Our background check processing team is friendly, experienced and here to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm Pacific time.

  • San Francisco Updated Their Fair Chance Ordinance

    November 06, 2018
    Employers who have people that work in San Francisco should be aware of and use the current version of this ordinance.
    Backgrounds Online | November 06, 2018


    Employers who have people that work in San Francisco should be aware of and use the current version of this ordinance.

    About The Updates

    The City of San Francisco amended their Fair Chance Ordinance, a law that is designed to help people with criminal histories find employment today. This Ordinance covers employers who have individuals that work at least 8 hours per week within San Francisco.

    When the Ordinance was originally created, it affected employers with 20 or more employees. The revised version covers employers that have at least 5 people on their staff. It also applies to employment agencies and related businesses, city contractors and sub-contractors.

    San Francisco’s updated Fair Chance Ordinance went into effect on October 1, 2018.

    Regulations For Employers In San Francisco

    Organizations that are covered by the Ordinance should know about the following updates. Affected employers:
    · May not ask about arrests or convictions on job applications.
    · May not ask about, seek out or request disclosures regarding arrests or convictions until after they make a conditional offer of employment.
    · May consider convictions that are related to the job but may not consider:
    o Arrests that did not lead to convictions.
    o Convictions that were expunged or dismissed.
    o Juvenile convictions.
    o Convictions that are more than 7 years old (unless the individual will work with vulnerable populations).
    o Infractions.
    o Participation in a deferral of judgment program.

    Employers should be aware that if they do not follow the updated Fair Chance Ordinance, then they could be sued or fined. Penalties have increased to $500 for the first violation; $1,000 for the second and $2,000 for additional violations.

    The city of San Francisco created a PDF of the new Fair Chance Ordinance. It must be provided to applicants and posted in English, Spanish, Chinese and any other language spoken by at least 5% of the employees at the workplace or jobsite.

    Adverse Actions

    Before taking an adverse action, such as revoking a conditional job offer, employers must follow a process established by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. San Francisco created a few specific details for the adverse action process.

    An applicant who is being reviewed must receive a copy of their background check if one exists. Then the person has seven days to respond with “evidence of inaccuracies on the background check or evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors.” The FCRA requires a reasonable amount of time but no specific timeframe is listed. If the person supplies evidence of rehabilitation, then the employer must reconsider the adverse action.

    Second Chance Laws

    Cities and states across the nation have been implementing second chance laws like the updated Fair Chance Ordinance in San Francisco. While none of them are consistent, they all share the same overall goal: to help people who have criminal convictions find employment.

    While some convictions are serious and violent enough to cause employers deny employment, many are minor and should not affect the individual’s ability to obtain work. Second chance laws are designed to give these people an opportunity to be interviewed and discuss their qualifications. Employers are allowed and encouraged to run background checks on candidates they are considering, and these laws help make it possible for them to hear from a larger group of people who may be right for a position.

    Staying Compliant Throughout The Hiring Process

    Since there is no one law that covers second chance concepts in the United States, employers must follow relevant laws where they operate. Backgrounds Online strives to keep up with these laws and provide educational resources to help with your compliance efforts.

    Our highly trained team also works diligently to help you create background check packages that provide the details you need to make informed business decisions. To learn how we can help improve your hiring process, please contact us today. .

  • California Is Changing Rules For The Sex Offender Registry​

    October 30, 2018
    The sunshine state passed a law that redefines rules for individuals who are added to the sex offender registry.
    Backgrounds Online | October 30, 2018


    The sunshine state passed a law that redefines rules for individuals who are added to the sex offender registry.

    How The Registry Works Now

    Current California law states that any resident who is convicted of a sexual crime must register as an offender. Anyone who fails to do so could be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony based on the scope of their initial offense. After registering, the individual is listed on a public database. Information about their offense and conviction is then accessible to the public online.

    There are many different types of sexual offenses. Every conviction currently requires the person to be permanently listed on the sex offender registry. The upcoming Senate Bill 384 (SB 384), commonly known as the Sex Offender Registration Act, will revise that.

    What Will Change

    The registry will be broken up into three tiers:

    Offenses that are deemed a Tier 1 will require the person to be listed on the sex offender registry for a minimum of ten years after their date of discharge. Following the stipulated period of time, the person may appeal to be removed from the registry. SB 384 states that Tier 1 includes offenders who are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that was not considered serious or violent.

    Offenses that are deemed a Tier 2 will require the person to be listed on the sex offender registry for a minimum of twenty years after their date of discharge. Once the decreed period of time has passed, the person may appeal to be removed from the registry. SB 384 states that Tier 2 includes offenders who were convicted of the type of offenses described in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5 or subdivision (c) of Section 1192.7, Section 285, subdivision (g) or (h) of Section 286, subdivision (g) or (h) of Section 288a, subdivision (b) of Section 289, or Section 647.6 if it is a second or subsequent conviction for that offense which was tried separately.

    Offenses that are deemed a Tier 3 will require the person to be permanently listed on the sex offender registry. This includes (but is not limited to):
    · Habitual offenders.
    · Offenders that are deemed to be sexually violent predators.
    · Offenders who are considered to have an above average risk of committing additional sexual crimes.
    · Offenders who were sentenced to fifteen or more years.

    Juvenile offenders will have a similar tier system with differing timeframes.

    How This Could Impact Employers

    Currently, individuals who are listed on the registry cannot remove themselves at any time. Those individuals are likely to have a difficult time finding employment in most industries. Once the new system is in place, Tier 1 and Tier 2 offenders may be able to remove their names from the registry. If that happens, then the individual’s registration would not be available on a criminal background check. This could open job opportunities for former offenders and expand the applicant pool for employers.

    Backgrounds Online is a consumer reporting agency that is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Our team makes efforts to keep up with laws that affect employers throughout the nation. If you have questions about running background checks, what type of information is legally available or how we can help with your hiring efforts, please contact us today.

  • The Importance Of A Proper Adverse Action Policy

    October 23, 2018
    Before taking an adverse action based on a background check, employers must follow a few federally mandated steps.
    Backgrounds Online | October 23, 2018


    Before taking an adverse action based on a background check, employers must follow a few federally mandated steps.

    The Adverse Action Process

    Every employer should run background checks on potential employees, volunteers, contractors or anyone else who might work on their behalf. In some cases, a background report may reveal information that causes the employer to consider an adverse action such as denying employment. In this scenario, the employer is obligated to follow a process established by a federal law known as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

    This process requires:
    - Sending a pre-adverse notification to the applicant. This document explains that an adverse action is being considered (but hasn’t occurred yet) and why. It must be accompanied by a copy of the person’s background check, contact information for the Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) that produced the report and a document called A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
    - After receiving this notification, the person must be allotted a reasonable amount of time to review everything and file a dispute if warranted. While no specific timeframe is given, best practice is at least one week.
    - If a dispute is filed, then the CRA must conduct a reinvestigation and make corrections as necessary. If no dispute is filed, then the employer may proceed by sending a second document that explains an adverse action occurred. It must be accompanied by contact information for the CRA that produced the report and another copy of A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

    Updates To The Summary Of Rights Under The FCRA Doc

    In September 2018, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection made a revision to the Summary of Rights Under The FCRA document. This update informs consumers of their right to place a “security freeze” on their credit report. If a consumer chooses this option, then their credit report will not be available to any CRA.

    The update also stipulates that consumers can place fraud alerts on their credit file at no cost to them. When this alert is present, credit providers must contact the consumer to verify their identity before extending any new credit.

    You can find the updated Summary document by logging in to your account and visiting our Resource Center.

    An Example Of Why These Steps Are Essential

    We’ve seen numerous stories about employers who were sued for not properly following the adverse action process. For example, in August, 2018 the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reviewed a case in which a job seeker was denied employment based on the results of a criminal background check. However, that person was not given an opportunity to review their report and initiate a dispute.

    According to the case, the information in the background check was about an arrest that did not result in a conviction. Therefore, it should not have been included or considered by the employer. After an initial hearing, this case was moved to the appellate court and the plaintiff’s claim was affirmed. The court noted that the FCRA obligates employers to give applicants time to review their background check before taking any adverse action.

    Because Allied allegedly did not follow FCRA regulations, the case against them will now proceed.

    What Employers Should Know

    Following laws established by the FCRA, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state governments is essential. Employers must be aware of these laws and compliant with those that are active where they operate. Best practice is for employers to maintain an internal document that thoroughly explains their screening policies and adherence to relevant laws.

    The team at Backgrounds Online works hard to keep up with federal, state and local laws and provide educational materials that can help your compliance efforts. We partner with you throughout the background screening process and endeavor to comply with applicable laws and best practices, such as not including non-conviction data on background reports.

    If you have questions about compliance, your background screening process or related topics, please contact us for expert assistance today..

  • Weaknesses In The Missouri Sex Offender Program​

    October 16, 2018
    An audit found weaknesses in state laws, highway patrol procedures and the enforcement of registry requirements.
    Backgrounds Online | October 16, 2018


    An audit found weaknesses in state laws, highway patrol procedures and the enforcement of registry requirements.

    About The Audit

    Missouri’s Sex Offender registration program was reviewed by the State Auditor to evaluate three primary items:
    The effectiveness of law enforcement in enforcing state requirements.
    The efficiency of management practices regarding registration.
    Compliance with legal provisions related to registration.

    The registration process is managed by the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) with assistance from state and local agencies. The MSHP maintains a database of individuals who are required to register. This information is made available to the public via a website.

    Schools Are Not Required To Background Check Volunteers

    One of the biggest issues found during the audit was that state does not require background checks on school volunteers. This means people who are allowed to work with students have not necessarily gone through a background screening process. These volunteers may work in classrooms, participate in field trips and have direct access to young people.

    Some schools have voluntarily implemented background screening policies for their volunteers, but there is no state law that says it is required. The Missouri School Board Association (MSBA) merely recommends that districts perform a basic check. The audit indicated this as a major weakness. Any person who is allowed to work with students should first go through a comprehensive background screening.

    Missouri Cannot Account For More Than 1,200 Offenders

    Sex offenders are required to register as frequently as every 90 days. This allows the state to keep track of their whereabouts and other activities. More than 1,200 offenders have not fulfilled this requirement and the state has lost track of them.

    According to the audit, at least 794 of these individuals are Tier III offenders, which means they have been convicted of the most serious types of sexual offenses. In most cases, arrest warrants have not been issued for these non-compliant offenders. Law enforcement officers have reportedly put a higher priority on other issues.

    Concerns About Highway Patrol Procedures

    Another issue addressed in the audit is that the MSHP does not properly maintain the sex offender database. Offenders who are out of compliance, by not completing their registration requirements, are shown to be fully compliant.

    Nicole Galloway, who led efforts to conduct the audit, said that this situation is “Providing a false sense of security. The public assumes information in the sex offender registry is correct, when in fact it is not.”

    An additional concern expressed about MSHP procedures was that they have not created agreements with other state agencies to share information. Doing this can help relocate offenders who failed to register. On top of these issues, the audit noted the MSHP does not have a system in place that can adequately spot incorrect or inappropriate data entered into the system.

    The full audit, including a response from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, can be found here.

    The Importance Of Strong Background Screening Procedures

    Despite not being mandated by the state, many Missouri schools run background checks on all volunteers. At Backgrounds Online, we consider this to be an essential task. Volunteers who will have access to young people, the elderly or anyone else should go through a comprehensive criminal background check. This helps to verify that the person does not have a serious or otherwise violent criminal past.

    If you have questions about how you can improve your background screening process, please contact us. Our team is experienced at creating background check packages that are ideal for employees, contractors, volunteers and other business-related situations. We are available to assist you Monday – Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • A Convicted Murderer Got A Job Working With Children

    October 09, 2018
    Despite his murder conviction, a man was hired at the NY Administration for Children’s Service. He is accused of assaulting a 6-year-old while on the job.
    Backgrounds Online | October 09, 2018


    Despite his conviction, a man was hired at the NY Administration for Children’s Service. He is accused of assaulting a 6-year-old boy while on the job.

    The Alleged Assault

    A man named Jacques Edwards was hired to work at the New York based Administration for Children’s Service (ACS). In August 2018, stories broke about Edwards allegedly assaulting a 6-year-old boy who was under his care. According to a criminal complaint, the worker pushed this child into a door and then slammed his head against a filing cabinet. Edwards claims this was done in self-defense.

    One statement regarding the alleged assault mentioned that Edwards has a raised scar and the boy was attempting to tear it off. Edwards said the child was biting and scratching his arm. He suggested that his actions were solely to prevent the boy from doing additional harm to him. Surveillance cameras in the facility captured the incident. This footage was used to initiate a case against Edwards.

    Violent Past

    When Edwards was 18 he was involved in a fatal shooting. He was convicted of this crime and served 28 years. His sentence was completed in 2010 and Edwards was once again free.

    A few years later, Edwards applied for and was granted a position at the ACS. He worked there for more than 4 years before this alleged assault occurred.

    Was The Worker Background Screened?

    ACS employees work with young children. Therefore, applicants who have violent, sexual or other serious criminal histories should be automatically disqualified from obtaining positions with the organization. Despite his conviction, however, Edwards was granted employment in 2014.

    An investigation commenced into why and how this happened. The ACS is accused of not running a background check on Edwards. Had they conducted a criminal background investigation, his violent conviction would have been discovered and he would have been deemed ineligible for hire.

    Next Steps For The ACS

    ACS Commissioner David Hansell reportedly blamed his predecessor for the failure to background screen Edwards. During a press conference he said they would “review the circumstances under which he was hired.” Hansell also admitted that he was uncertain if other employees might have criminal convictions and ordered “spot checks” on the staff.

    Moving forward, the ACS intends to run background checks on everyone who applies for work. They will use these reports to find out if an applicant has a serious conviction and to help determine if each person is qualified for hire.

    What Employers Should Know

    It is imperative to run background checks on potential employees, contractors and volunteers. In most cases a criminal conviction does not automatically disqualify a person. Each one should be reviewed and considered based on the type of position, relevancy of the offense, how long ago the offense occurred and other relevant factors.

    There are strong rules for anyone who will work with children, the elderly or other vulnerable persons. Applicants who have certain types of convictions are not eligible for such positions. Employers who hire workers that will have direct contact with these individuals, be granted access to customer’s homes or otherwise have direct access to another human being should always run comprehensive background checks to help protect the people they serve.

    Is your business background screening applicants and employees to meet due diligence requirements? If not, or if you have questions about improving your screening policies, please contact us. Our experienced and knowledgeable team is here Monday – Friday from 5am to 6pm to assist you.

  • Omnicare Sued For $1.3M For A Background Screening Violation

    October 02, 2018
    A federal judge approved a $1.3 million class action lawsuit that claims the company violated federal and state laws for consumer reports.
    Backgrounds Online | October 02, 2018


    A federal judge approved a $1.3 million class action lawsuit that claims the company violated federal and state laws for consumer reports.

    Cause Of The Lawsuit

    This case began when Ijeoma Esomonu applied for a job at Omnicare and was asked to authorize a background check. Employers must obtain authorization before initiating a background screening, but Omnicare allegedly included a liability waiver on their form. While such clauses may be common, they cannot legally be included on a background check authorization document.

    Esomonu initiated a lawsuit that claimed Omnicare was not compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and that the employer violated California’s Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act. Additional plaintiffs joined until around 50,000 people were involved in the class action suit.

    Compensation Requested

    In 2017 both parties agreed to a proposed settlement. It was, however, rejected by a judge who felt the payout amount was too high. Esomonu and Omnicare continued the negotiation process and agreed to the $1.3 million figure.

    U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. approved the revised proposal. He felt the plaintiff’s claims had sufficient commonality and that Esomonu was suited to represent the group. The judge stated that the payment amount is reasonable based on the time spent on negotiations and the risks involved with continued litigation. Based on the total, each participant is expected to receive around $16.50 in compensation.

    Background Check Authorization Forms

    Before running a background check on an applicant, contractor, employee or anyone else, an employer must have a permissible purpose and written authorization from the subject. This authorization request form must be a standalone document. Including any extra content is a violation of the FCRA and can lead the serious repercussions such as a class action lawsuit.

    To help our clients with their compliance efforts, Backgrounds Online provides a packet that includes a sample standalone authorization document. To review and download a copy, login to your account and visit our Resource Center.

    Takeaway For Employers

    Every employer is responsible for complying with the FCRA, guidelines established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and federal or state laws that are in place where they operate. Keeping up with all these can be difficult, but the highly experienced team at Backgrounds Online acts as your partner throughout the background screening process.

    We strive to keep up with current, new and changing laws so we can provide educational resources, compliant background screening forms and other essential assets. If you have questions about how we can help with your background screening efforts, please contact us today.

  • A Hampton City Employee's Shocking Criminal History

    September 25, 2018
    The City of Hampton hired a pump station mechanic who had a serious criminal history.
    Backgrounds Online | September 25, 2018


    The City of Hampton hired a pump station mechanic without background screening the applicant. They were later shocked to learn about his criminal history.

    Charges

    A man named Robert Dobbins was hired by the city of Hampton as an on-call water station pump mechanic. On his official paperwork, Dobbins indicated that he had never been convicted of a felony. That was deemed sufficient and no background check was run. The city offered him a job and a smartphone so he could be contacted in case of emergency.

    While Dobbins was an active employee in good standing, the city was contacted by an officer from a federal law enforcement agency. A city representative was informed that the agency ran a sting to catch predators. During that time, the agency identified Dobbins as the owner of an online account which displayed pictures of young children. The news got even worse from there.

    Hampton city official learned that Dobbins had “committed a hands-on offense against a child” and was involved in child pornography. While unknowingly involved in the sting operation, Dobbins sent a link that contained child pornography to one of the investigators.

    Based on these charges, Dobbins was arrested. He later revealed that he had used his city-issued phone to access child pornography. City officials also discovered that Dobbins had previously been convicted for receipt and possession of child pornography. These charges would have been available on a background check report.

    Why He Wasn’t Screened

    The city of Hampton has specific background screening regulations in place. They screen any potential employee who might handle money, enter someone’s home, work with minors or be placed in a position that involves public safety. Since Dobbins was hired as a mechanic, city policy did not require him to go through a background screening.

    At this time, the city does not plan to update their background screening process. Robin McCormick, the city’s Communications Strategist, believes this was an isolated incident and no policy revisions are necessary.

    The Importance Of Screening Everyone

    At Backgrounds Online we believe it is crucial to screen potential employees, volunteers, contractors and anyone else who could represent your brand. Running background checks shows you are taking precautions to confirm the people who work for your business or organization do not have a serious criminal history.

    Your customers, staff and the public rely on you to run background checks to help ensure the people you hire or contract are safe and trustworthy. The residents of Hampton would not approve of a city employee who has convictions for child pornography. Your customers would not approve of you hiring an individual who has a violent or otherwise dangerous criminal history.

    Ongoing Monitoring

    Ongoing background screenings are just as essential as the initial background check. This shows you if someone who represents your business has a new criminal conviction. It’s like a continuous security policy for your business and reputation.

    If you have questions about your screening policies, what types of background checks you should be running or ongoing monitoring, please contact us. Our educated team is available to assist you Monday – Friday from 5am to 6pm PT. We look forward to hearing from you.