Backgrounds Online Blog

  • Portage County Appoints a Felon to Their Disabilities Board

    January 16, 2018
    The Commissioners of Portage County, Ohio don't run background checks on prospective board members. This led to them awarding a position to a convicted felon.
    Backgrounds Online | January 16, 2018
     

    The Commissioners of Portage County, Ohio don't run background checks on prospective board members. This led to them awarding a position to a convicted felon.

    How a Felon Got Appointed

    When a seat on any of the Portage County boards becomes available, the Commissioners ask citizens to apply. There is, however, no specific application or interview process. Candidates typically attend a public meeting where they are asked a few questions about why they should be added to the board. They do not have to fill out an application, provide a resume, pass an interview or agree to a background screening.

    Two openings recently became available for the county's board of Developmental Disabilities. Four people expressed interested, including a man named William Tarver. He was awarded one of the board positions. Just one day later, the Portage County Commissioners started receiving complaints and concerns about him.

    Tarver's History

    According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, Tarver has an extensive criminal record that includes misdemeanors and felonies. His history was discovered via CourtView, an online public records provider. The site reported that Tarver entered guilty pleas to six different fifth-degree felonies. He also allegedly owes around $31,000 in child support.

    Before receiving the position, Tarver submitted some information about himself and why he should be on the board. He turned in a two-paragraph document in which he suggested that he was qualified because his brother is autistic and he had been a union steward for Teamsters 507 and 24.

    Researches from a local newspaper contacted the Teamsters 507 and learned that Tarver had been a member, but never a steward. They also contacted the Teamsters 24, but were unable to speak with anyone.

    The Four Applicants

    Of the four people who applied for the board positions, one had previously been a member. She was reappointed to help maintain consistency. Two other people applied, but were not appointed. While it is not known why, one theory is that it was due to their positions on or potential connections to a six-week union strike.

    The fact that Tarver was appointed has become an embarrassing situation for the Portage Commissioners. One of the applicants who was not chosen said, "Right now, a lot of the families are feeling betrayed by their own SSAs. My children are affected and I'm afraid for my child's services."

    After Tarver's Record Became Public Knowledge

    Residents of Portage County are concerned about Tarver's past, but he maintains that he does not have a criminal record. During an interview he stated: "I don't put any credence in CourtView, Portage County courts, or anyone else's opinion about me. Because I was there and I know if I'm guilty or not guilty. You can call me a 25-time felon. I know that I'm not a felon. I don't care what the (Ohio Revised Code) or any other thing says about me. I'm flawless. I love people. I don't have a mean bone in my body. I will not be cornered, but I will serve this board and serve these clients."

    While it is hoped that Tarver will resign, at this time that seems unlikely. He was appointed for a three-year term and the Commissioners may not have an option to remove him. Commissioner Vicki Kline has since stated that the county needs to create a vetting process but has not done so yet because they are concerned about crossing "legal lines."

    Why Background Checks Matter

    When handled properly, background checks can legally be run on potential employees, contractors and volunteers. Applicants must first agree to be screened and sign a disclosure. Best practice is to have an NAPBS accredited consumer reporting agency conduct the investigation. To earn this accreditation, background check providers must show that they take steps to ensure a fair screening process and comply with federal, state and local laws.

    If you need to screen applicants for any type of position, Backgrounds Online can help. Contact us between 5am and 5pm (PT) Monday - Friday to talk directly to one our highly trained screening professionals.

  • A Deputy is Found to Have a Long Criminal Record

    January 9, 2018
    After a Deputy was arrested for domestic abuse, her background was reviewed. She had multiple arrests for a variety of offenses - and several convictions.
    Backgrounds Online | January 9, 2018

    After a Deputy was arrested for domestic abuse, her background was reviewed. She had multiple arrests for a variety of offenses - and several convictions.

    The Arrest

    Deputy Monica Smith was on duty the morning of August 25, 2017. When it was time for her lunch break, she left the facility and went home. She returned later that day and was arrested for domestic abuse battery.

    While on her lunch break, Smith reportedly had an argument with her husband. According to police records, the incident led to Smith punching her husband in the face and dousing him with department-issued pepper spray. He apparently managed to return fire with another canister that was intended for official police use.

    Police officers were called to Smith's home after the Deputy left. They reported that Smith's husband had a laceration on his upper lip and skin irritation from the pepper spray.

    Smith's Criminal History is Discovered

    After Deputy Smith was arrested, officials reviewed her record. They found that she had nearly a dozen previous arrests. Many of Smith's charges had been dismissed, but she also had several convictions. They included fighting/disturbing the peace and criminal damage for breaking apartment windows with a cinder block.

    Rafael Goyeneche, President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said this about the situation: "When you have multiple arrests and prosecutions for local offenses in your background, that is a red flag."

    Smiths' Path to Becoming a Deputy

    On March 13, Smith was arrested for missing a court appearance. She was held in jail for the night. The next day she applied for a position as a Deputy at the sheriff's office. Whether or not she heard about the job opening while incarcerated is unknown.

    It appears that no background report was run on Smith. If it was, then Smith's record was overlooked or ignored. Despite the fact that she had just been locked up and had previous convictions, Smith received the job.

    Smith went through a training course and was actively working as a Deputy until the incident involving her husband. After being arrested while on-duty, Smith was fired. She was not convicted of the domestic abuse battery charge, however. Smith's husband stopped cooperating with the District Attorney's office, so they had no choice but to drop the case.

    Why Background Checks Matter

    If the sheriff's department had run and reviewed a criminal background check, she would not have been hired. Having a criminal record doesn't automatically disqualify a person from being eligible for employment, but every position has a unique set of qualifications and requirements. Someone with multiple arrests and convictions would not typically be approved as a Deputy.

    This incident was embarrassing for the sheriff's department and it provides a good example of why background checks are so important. Employers screen applicants to ensure they are qualified for a position and to look for reportable criminal records. Once all this information is collected, employers may use it and apply it to relevant state and federal laws to help them make educated hiring decisions that protect their business, brand and reputation.

    If you have questions about how background checks can benefit your business, please contact or experienced team today. We can help you create screening packages that are perfectly tailored to any position for which you are hiring.

  • Seven Best Practices for Employers in 2018

    January 2, 2018
    It is essential for employers to be compliant with laws that affect hiring and background screening. Here are some best practices to implement for the New Year.
    Backgrounds Online | January 2, 2018

    It is essential for employers to be compliant with laws that affect hiring and background screening. Here are some best practices to implement for the New Year.

    1. Ban the Box

    We've seen numerous state and local Ban the Box laws over the last few years. More are likely to be passed in 2018. These laws differ from place to place, but most contain the same basic concepts.

    Best Practice Tips:

    • Remove questions about arrests and/or convictions from your job applications.
    • Hold off on running criminal background checks until after you've conducted an interview. To be extra cautious, wait until a conditional job offer is extended.

    2. Carefully Consider Convictions

    In the past, individuals with arrest records or criminal convictions were unlikely to receive consideration for any job. More recently, a variety of laws have been created to help people with minor records obtain employment.

    Best Practice Tips:

    • If an applicant has a conviction, take time to evaluate the offense. Consider how serious it was, how long ago it occurred and whether or not it is relevant to the job. Some states will have specific guidelines on how to review convictions.
    • When denying employment due to an applicant's criminal history (or based on other information learned after a background screening), go through the proper adverse action process. Start by sending the person a pre-adverse notice along with a copy of their background check and a summary of their rights under the FCRA. Give the individual time to review these documents and file a dispute if warranted.
    • If no dispute is filed, then proceed with the adverse action (which includes providing notification, contact information for the Consumer Reporting Agency that prepared the background report and a second copy of the rights under the FCRA summary).

    3. Do Not Consider Records That Have Been Expunged

    Some states are establishing easier guidelines for expunging certain types of arrest and conviction records. Once a record is expunged, it cannot be included on a background check or used to make a hiring decision.

    Best Practice Tip:

    4. Use a Standalone Disclosure

    We've seen numerous lawsuits based on claims that an employer's disclosure document included waivers or other content that is not permitted.

    Best Practice Tips:

    • Make sure your disclosure is a simple, standalone document.
    • Do not include any additional content on the disclosure.

    5. Don't Ask About Salary

    There is a growing movement to forbid employers from asking applicants about their previous salary. The goal is to prevent wage discrimination based on gender, nationality or other factors.

    Best Practice Tips:

    • Don't ask applicants about their current or previous salary.
    • Ensure that employees who perform equal duties receive equal compensation (some exceptions can be made based on the location of a job when cost of living is a factor).

    6. Make Sure the Data You Send and Receive is Protected

    Recent data breaches have created a whirlwind of concern about protecting consumer's personal data.

    Best Practice Tip:

    • Partner with a background check provider that has strong protections in place, such as an annual SOC 2 audit.

    7. Implement Anti-Discrimination Policies

    Make sure your policies do not inadvertently discriminate against applicants or employees.

    Best Practice Tips:

    • Familiarize yourself with anti-discrimination laws established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
    • Document your hiring and screening policies and make sure they show the steps you take to avoid discrimination.
    • Establish and maintain policies that are fair and consistent for everyone.

    Follow Our Blog

    We regularly report on laws that affect employers. Watch for our new blog entries every Tuesday and read about important topics such as compliance, hiring and background check best practices.

    Our team wishes you a happy and prosperous 2018! If you have questions about how we can help you build strong teams and make informed hiring decisions, please contact us today.

  • Spokane City Council Approves a Ban the Box Law

    December 26, 2017
    The Council voted for an ordinance that prohibits employers from asking applicants about criminal records until after an interview or conditional job offer.
    Backgrounds Online | December 26, 2017

    The Council voted for an ordinance that prohibits employers from asking applicants about criminal records until after an interview or conditional job offer.

    About the Ordinance

    A "Ban the Box" ordinance was reviewed by the City Council of Spokane, Washington on November 27, 2017. The goal of this ordinance is to help people who have an arrest record or minor conviction find employment. It disallows employers from asking about arrests or convictions on job applications and prohibits them from running a criminal background check until after conducting an interview or extending a conditional job offer.

    Spokane residents were allowed to share their opinions at the City Council meeting. Numerous people who have criminal records talked about how difficult it is to find employment or even land an interview.

    Many felt that a Ban the Box law would help. It would give people an opportunity to be seen by employers so they could discuss their qualifications before a final hiring decision is made. When someone checks a box on a job application to indicate they have a record, they are unlikely to receive further consideration.

    The City Council Vote

    After hearing the testimonials, the Council voted 5 to 2 to adopt a Ban the Box law. A member of the Council who also helped write the proposed legislation said: "We're going to put a stake in the ground for community reconciliation, in our city, and across the state, and across the nation."

    According to an article in The Spokesman Review newspaper, members of the Council were moved by what they heard during the meeting. Much of the support for the ordinance came from of a group known as "I Did the Time." This Washington-based organization is dedicated to helping "individuals and families who are working to overcome barriers associated with past offenses with political advocacy and organizing."

    New Laws for Spokane Employers

    The ordinance stipulates new regulations for Spokane-based employers and defines penalties for those that fail to comply. It states that employers may not:

    • Include questions about arrest or criminal records on job applications.
    • Advertise job openings in a way that discourages or excludes people from applying if they have a record.
    • Ask an applicant if they have a criminal history until after conducting an interview or extending a conditional job offer.
    • Disqualify a candidate due to a conviction unless the conviction is relevant to the expected job duties or allowed within the ordinance.

    Employers that violate this ordinance would be charged $261. That amount can be doubled for additional violations.

    What Employers Should Know

    Ban the Box laws have been passed in numerous cities and states. More are expected to be implemented in 2018.

    Current best practice is to not inquire about arrests or criminal records until after a conditional offer is extended, even if your business operates in an area that does not have a Ban the Box law. This is for the benefit of both job seekers and employers.

    Millions of Americans have criminal records. Many of these would not be considered serious enough to cause the person to be ineligible for employment. Businesses that are unwilling to interview someone who has an arrest or a conviction may miss out on opportunities to hire highly qualified individuals.

    By "banning the box", employers can learn about an applicant's qualifications and then find out if the person has a record. If they do, then the employer can use that and other relevant information to help them make an educated decision. It's also important to note that some Ban the Box laws establish guidelines for employers to follow after learning that an applicant has a criminal history.

    It can be tough to keep up with all the laws that affect employers, especially since they are not consistent from state to state. Every employer must be aware of and compliant with laws that are in effect where they operate. Background Online is committed to learning about laws that affect our customers and providing educational resources to help with compliance efforts.

    If you have questions about what we can do for you, please contact us today.

  • North Carolina Implemented a New Expungement Law

    December 19, 2017
    As of December 1, 2017, North Carolina residents will be able to have certain types of criminal records expunged faster and easier than before.
    Backgrounds Online | December 19, 2017

    As of December 1, 2017, North Carolina residents will be able to have certain types of criminal records expunged faster and easier than before.

    An Expedited Process for Expungements

    North Carolina Senate Bill 445 (SB 445) went into effect on December 1, 2017 to establish a faster method for first-time, non-violent offenders to have their criminal records expunged. The goal of this bill is to help residents find employment and rebuild their lives following an arrest or criminal conviction. In a statement about this bill, Governor Roy Cooper said, "We want North Carolinians who have corrected their mistakes to go on to live purposeful, productive lives."

    Prior to the passing of SB 445, North Carolina residents had to wait 15 years to have non-violent offenses expunged from their record. This was a much longer wait time that most other states offered. SB 445 reduces the waiting period to 10 years for a first-time, non-violent felony and 5 years for a non-violent misdemeanor.

    The process for filing an expungement request was also standardized by SB 445. This is intended to make the process easier for everyone. When a record has been expunged, it will not be available to the public. It will, however, still be available to prosecutors electronically.

    Governor Cooper signed the bill in July, 2017. He stated that criminal justice should be about more than incarceration. It should also include restoration, meaning non-violent offenders who served their sentences should have the ability to return to the workforce and rebuild their lives.

    Highlights of the Bill

    There are several key points to this bill. They include allowances for first time offenders who were:

    • Under 18 when convicted of a misdemeanor.
    • Under 18 when convicted of certain gang-related offenses.
    • Under 18 when convicted of a non-violent felony.
    • Under 21 when convicted of certain drug or toxic vapor offenses.
    • Convicted of certain non-violent misdemeanors or felonies (a Class A through G felony or a Class A1 misdemeanor), regardless of age.
    • Convicted of certain acts of prostitution prior to October 1, 2013.
    • Found not guilty of a misdemeanor or felony charge.
    • Charged, but later had those charges dismissed or pardoned.

    There are various terms and stipulations for each potential type of expungement. Read the full bill text here.

    What North Carolina Employers Should Know

    Criminal records that have been expunged cannot be considered by employers and should not be included on a background check report. Therefore, if a job applicant has a record that was expunged, an employer should not have access to that record. If, for any reason, an employer learns about an expunged conviction they should not use it as a determining factor on whether or not to hire the individual.

    The best practice for employers is to work with a Consumer Reporting Agency that provides compliant background checks which can be used to help make informed business decisions. Otherwise, employers run the risk of screening people in a non-compliant manner. That can lead to lawsuits and other legal complications.

    Backgrounds Online is a Consumer Reporting Agency that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. We are committed to providing authoritative background checks that only include accurate, reportable information. Our team keeps up with laws that affect our customers and we provide a variety of resources that help keep customers aware and compliant.

    If you have questions about your screening process, compliancy or other crucial topics, contact our knowledgeable team for assistance.

  • Avis Agrees to Pay $2.7M for Alleged FCRA Violations

    December 12, 2017
    A class action lawsuit claimed Avis violated FCRA regulations during their background screening process. The car rental company agreed to a $2.7M settlement.
    Backgrounds Online | December 12, 2017

    A class action lawsuit claimed Avis violated FCRA regulations during their background screening process. The car rental company agreed to a $2.7M settlement.

    What Led to the Lawsuit

    Angela Fuller was denied employment at Avis in 2013. After learning why, she filed a lawsuit against the company. The Class Action has since grown to represent around 45,000 individuals.

    According to Fuller, Avis refused to hire her over an incident that occurred in 1985. She was drinking a malt beverage while riding in a car as a passenger. The vehicle was pulled over and Fuller was issued a $40 ticket for this infraction. She was not arrested or convicted of a crime.

    It was nearly twenty years later when Fuller applied to work at Avis. A ticket from 1985 should not have shown up on her background check. Even if she had received a minor conviction, which she did not, it would have been well out of the reportable time range.

    Allegations Against Avis

    The lawsuit claims that Avis violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in two ways:

    First, the company allegedly failed to provide standalone disclosures. Before running a background check on anyone, employers must disclose their intention to do so and get the person's signed approval. This is done via a standalone document that does not contain liability waivers or any additional information.

    Second, the company is accused of failing to follow the FCRA's pre-adverse notification process. Before taking an adverse action, such as refusing to hire someone based on the results of a background check, the employer must send a notice that explains they are considering an adverse action. Along with this notification, the individual must receive a copy of their rights under the FCRA and the background check results. Then, they must be allotted a reasonable amount of time to review these documents so they can file a dispute if warranted.

    Fuller claimed that she did not receive a copy of her report. If she had, then she could have disputed it based on the inclusion of the ticket she was issued in 1985. Had this occurred, the lawsuit might not have been filed.

    Outcome of the Lawsuit

    Avis was offered a settlement deal for $2.7 million. Out of this total, $891,000 would go to the lawyers to cover their fees and expenses. Participants in the lawsuit would receive the rest.

    Each plaintiff was placed into a group based on when they applied to work at Avis and the outcome of their application. One group consists of people who were denied employment due to a background check that was run between June 9, 2016 and April 28, 2016. They would receive $695 each. Another group is made up of people who had dealings with Avis that occurred outside of the FCRA's statute of limitations. They would receive a $20 voucher that can be used towards the total cost of a weekday car rental from Avis.

    The terms of this lawsuit were reviewed by the U.S. District Court of New Jersey in Case No. 2:15-cv-03856. Avis agreed to pay the full settlement amount.

    Key Takeaway for Employers

    It is crucial to follow regulations established by the FCRA. Not doing so can lead to issues such as the class action suit against Avis. In recent years, we've seen a sharp incline in cases like this one.

    Employers should review their hiring policies and verify that they are compliant with federal, state and local laws. This includes offering a standalone disclosure about the intent to run a background check and following the FCRA's pre-adverse process.

    Backgrounds Online offers numerous educational resources about compliance, screening best practices and other important topics. When you work with us, we become your partner throughout your hiring process. We also provide a variety of important forms that you can use to help establish and maintain compliance.

    If you have questions about what we can do for you, please contact us today.

  • Arizona Implements a "Ban the Box" Policy for State Agencies

    December 5, 2017
    Governor Douglas A. Ducey signed Executive Order 2017-07 to prohibit state employers from including questions about criminal records on job applications.
    Backgrounds Online | December 5, 2017

    Governor Douglas A. Ducey signed Executive Order 2017-07 to prohibit state employers from including questions about criminal records on job applications.

    Genesis of the Executive Order

    Arizona's government estimates that 1.5 million residents have arrest records. Arizona is known as an "Opportunity For All" state - meaning everyone who lives there should have an opportunity to participate in the workforce even if they have been convicted of a crime. Executive Order 2017-07 was created to help people who have criminal convictions.

    "All Arizonans—no matter their background or past mistakes—deserve the chance to make a living and a better life for themselves and their families," said Governor Ducey about the Executive Order. "If you served your time and paid your debt to society, you should have the opportunity at a real second chance."

    One of the goals behind this Order is to decrease recidivism. The idea is that people who are unable to obtain employment after serving their sentence are far more likely to be arrested again. Those who find jobs, however, are much less likely to incur another conviction.

    About the Executive Order

    This Order establishes the following rules for state agencies:

    • Employers may not ask about criminal records on job applications.
    • If an employer is aware that an applicant has a criminal record, they may not deny that individual the opportunity to be interviewed.
    • If a state or federal law decrees that individuals who have any type of criminal conviction may not hold specific positions, then employers who are hiring for those positions may inquire about convictions during the initial application process and disqualify individuals for this reason.

    After conducting an initial interview with an applicant, state agencies are allowed to run a criminal background check. Certain types of convictions can be deemed serious enough to warrant denial of employment.

    See the complete Executive Order here.

    Which Employers Must Follow This Executive Order?

    This Order only applies to state agencies. It does not apply to any government unit that is not defined as a state agency, offices that are headed by more than one elected official or private employers. Every employer in Arizona is, however, encouraged to follow the policies established by the Order.

    The success of this Order will be determined by the Arizona Department of Administration and the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity. These groups will work together to develop a methodology for measuring success and report their findings to the Governor's Office on or before July 1, 2018.

    Ban the Box Policies Continue to Spread

    Arizona's Executive Order was signed on November 6, 2017. It is one of many Ban the Box laws in the United States. More are expected to be passed in 2018.

    While some of these laws only affect state agencies, others create new regulations for private employers. When Ban the Box laws are implemented, it is essential for affected employers to be aware of and compliant with them.

    Keeping up with Ban the Box and other laws that cover the hiring process can be tricky. Backgrounds Online is here to help. We pay attention to new and upcoming laws that impact our customers and create a variety of educational resources to keep you informed.

    All of our professional background screeners have earned their FCRA certification. Our team is trained to understand and follow federal, state and local laws. If you need assistance with your screening efforts, please contact us today.

  • An Employment Agency is Sued for Not Running Background Checks

    November 28, 2017
    A lawsuit claims that a Wisconsin-based agency sent several non-screened temp workers to a local business. Reportedly, one had a significant criminal history.
    Backgrounds Online | November 28, 2017

    A lawsuit claims that a Wisconsin-based agency sent several non-screened temp workers to a local business. Reportedly, one had a significant criminal history.

    The Temporary Workers

    Diamond Assets, a technology systems supplier in Wisconsin, hired the Express Employment Professionals agency to find temporary workers for their busy season. The agency approved one dozen individuals. They were hired to work in the Information Technology department and provide support for various businesses, schools and government offices.

    Allegedly, one of these people showed up for work wearing a monitoring bracelet and left early to report to jail. While the individual was still on the job, another worker had money stolen from their wallet. Based on footage from a security camera located in the company break room, a representative from Diamond Assets believes this money was stolen by the person with the bracelet.

    Background Checks Should Have Been Conducted

    After this incident, Diamond Assets filed a lawsuit against the employment agency. The suit claims that the agency agreed to conduct criminal background checks but did not follow through. Diamond Assets states that they have a staffing contract and a variety of emails in which the agency confirmed they would handle screenings for all temporary employees.

    A representative from Diamond Assets said they were initially told that the agency ran background checks and they came back clear. It was later revealed that no screenings were conducted for the twelve temporary staffers.

    Diamond Assets Researches the Worker

    A newspaper in Wisconsin covered this story. Their article said that one official from Diamond Assets checked online for information about the person who allegedly stole money from a co-worker. With just a small amount of research, the article revealed, numerous criminal court cases were discovered for that individual.

    Once this information came to light, Diamond Assets filed their lawsuit against the employment agency for $30,000 plus staffing costs. The defendant has not yet responded.

    Background checks are said to be an essential part of Diamond Assets' hiring policies. Had a report been run, they could have seen whether or not the workers had relevant convictions and used that information to make informed decisions. In this scenario it would have been legal to deny employment to the person who had a reportable criminal history.

    The Importance of Background Checks

    A criminal background check could have saved time and money for everyone involved in this case. Diamond Assets paid an agency to find workers and then spent time training those individuals. When company representatives learned the workers had not been screened, they cancelled their contract with the agency. This caused the other eleven workers to lose their jobs and anticipated income. The agency might not be required to pay a large sum of money based on the outcome of the lawsuit.

    When hiring directly or working with an agency, it is crucial to ensure background checks are conducted properly. This involves verifying relevant information such as credentials, employment and education; checking for reportable criminal records; and following federal, state and local laws that cover the hiring and screening process.

    If you need assistance with screening current or potential employees, please contact us today. Our team is highly experienced at running compliant background checks that can be used to make important business decisions. Rely on us to deliver reports that protect your business, employees and brand.

  • Texas Seeks To Overturn An EEOC Guidance

    November 21, 2017
    In 2012 the EEOC passed a Guidance that disallows employers from discriminating against people who have criminal records. That could be overturned in Texas.
    Backgrounds Online | November 21, 2017

    In 2012 the EEOC passed a Guidance that disallows employers from discriminating against people who have criminal records. That could be overturned in Texas.

    The Movement To Protect People With Minor Criminal Records

    There is a nationwide effort to help people who have criminal convictions find jobs. Ban The Box laws provide a perfect example. They prevent employers from including questions about criminal records on job applications. This is done to encourage employers to learn more about applicants before making final hiring decisions.

    Employers are still allowed to find out if an applicant has a criminal record. This typically occurs via a criminal background check after a conditional offer is extended. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) created a Guidance that says Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is intended to prevent "blanket discrimination" of people who have any type of criminal record.

    If a background check reveals that an applicant has a conviction, employers are asked to run an individualized assessment for that person. This includes considering the seriousness of their offense(s), how much time has passed and whether or not the conviction is relevant to the position for which they are applying. The EEOC hopes this will prevent employers from denying jobs to people who have minor convictions that should not make them ineligible for employment.

    Millions of Americans have been arrested. According to the Pew Research Center, black Americans are incarcerated six times more frequently than other Americans. The EEOC works to help prevent employers from discriminating against individuals who are part of a protected class. They feel that refusing to hire anyone who has a criminal record creates discriminatory practices against minorities.

    Texas May Go Against EEOC Guidelines

    According to an article in The Nation, Greg Abbott, currently the Governor of Texas, filed a lawsuit to block EEOC laws that protect people with criminal records. At the time Abbott was the state's Attorney General. He reportedly asked the court to issue a judgment that would make it legal for state agencies to deny employment to anyone who has a criminal record and disallow the EEOC from sending "right-to-sue" letters based on claims of discriminatory practices.

    Abbott's lawsuit was dismissed. In 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reviewed this case and determined that the state of Texas has the right to challenge EEOC laws in court. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Employment Law Project have since become involved in this re-opened case. They made a motion to make the Texas Conference of the NAACP a defendant so their lawyers would have an opportunity to participate in court hearings. That motion was denied.

    Since the EEOC will not be directly involved, they are represented by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division which is currently led by Eric Dreiband. According to the article in The Nation, this is a concern for the EEOC. Dreiband has opinions about civil rights that some believe are controversial. There is apprehension that this scenario will help Texas win the lawsuit and thus not be required to follow EEOC guidelines.

    What Employers Should Know

    Many states have passed laws that are intended to protect people who have minor, non-violent offenses. These laws affect all employers that operate within those states. Every employer should be aware of and compliant with such laws.

    Although Texas lawmakers are hoping to allow state agencies to not be bound by EEOC guidelines, a national movement that encourages employers to consider hiring people with minor convictions continues to grow.

    Backgrounds Online is dedicated to keeping up with laws that cover the hiring process, publishing educational materials and helping our clients with their compliancy efforts. If you have questions about what we can do for you, please contact us today.

  • How an Unqualified Woman Landed a Nursing Job

    November 14, 2017
    A woman worked as a nurse for several months. When she applied for another nursing position, it was discovered that she was not qualified to work with patients.
    Backgrounds Online | November 14, 2017

    A woman worked as a nurse for several months. When she applied for another nursing position, it was discovered that she was not qualified to work with patients.

    False Identity

    According to an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, a woman named Samantha Rivera applied for a nursing job through a staffing agency called ATC Healthcare Services. The woman's resume included the necessary credentials, education and work experience.

    Rivera told the people at ATC that she had been working at a hospital in New Mexico since earning a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Based on this, she was hired to work in the Intensive Care Unit and a geriatric psych ward. Problem was, the background Rivera used to win this job did not belong to her.

    A woman in New Mexico had a similar name to Samantha Rivera and the proper experience to earn a nursing job. Rivera used the nurse's name and credentials when she applied at the St. Louis-based staffing agency. Allegedly, the personnel there did not test Rivera's skills or take proper steps to confirm her educational and employment history.

    How Rivera Got Caught

    After working at St. Alexius Hospital for several months, Rivera's contract was up for review. It was not renewed. The woman then tried to repeat her process somewhere else. She applied for work as a nurse through a staffing agency in Chicago.

    Rivera supplied the same false information to the new agency. This time, however, she was asked to complete a test of basic nursing skills. She failed. When the agency conducted a more thorough review of Rivera's background, they discovered that she was not the person she claimed to be.

    The Aftermath

    When personnel at the Chicago staffing agency uncovered the truth about Rivera, they contacted the authorities. Rivera was arrested and later pled guilty to identity theft and healthcare fraud. She will be sentenced in January, 2018 and could be sent to a federal prison for up to 16 months.

    This was not the first time Rivera managed to land a job for which she was not qualified. Despite a lack of proper training and education, in 2015 she was hired to teach at Brown Mackie College in Albuquerque New Mexico. According to the St. Louis Times, the school failed to inform the Nursing Board that Rivera was fraudulently passing herself off as a certified nurse.

    It is unknown if any potentially dangerous or negative incidents occurred in the ICU due to Rivera's lack of experience. This story does, however, illustrate the dangers of not thoroughly checking a person's background.

    What Should Have Happened

    Every employer, including staffing agencies, should conduct background checks that are appropriately customized for each position. In this case, Rivera's employment and educational history should have been confirmed before she was allowed to work as a nurse.

    A proper healthcare background check and skills test could have been used to help uncover Rivera's fraudulent claims before she was hired. Multiple Human Resources studies have shown that a large percentage of job applicants include some exaggerations or falsified information on their resumes. While this case is more extreme than most, it serves as a strong warning about the importance of thorough background checks and proper verifications.

    If you are hiring for the healthcare or any other industry, our team of screening professionals can help you customize and save screening packages that are perfectly suited for any position. Contact us today to discuss your screening needs.

  • If A New Bill Passes, Every U.S. Employer Must Use E-Verify

    November 7, 2017
    Governor Jerry Brown signed Bill AB 1008 on October 14, 2017. The new law establishes a statewide Ban the Box policy for California.
    Backgrounds Online | November 7, 2017

    Three members of Congress introduced a new version of the Legal Workforce Act. If it passes, U.S. employers will be required to use E-Verify for new employees.

    The legislation was sponsored by Congressman Lamar Smith (Republican, Texas), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (Republican, Virginia) and Congressman Ken Calvert (Republican, California).

    What Is E-Verify?

    E-Verify is an online system that confirms a person's eligibility to work in the United States. It checks Social Security Numbers against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security records. The program is said to confirm "99.8% of work-eligible employees" in less than two minutes.

    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency provides information about E-Verify on their website. It is said to be a fast, easy and free way for employers to verify that people are eligible to work in the United States. E-Verify is currently being used by more than 740,000 employers. Learn more about the E-Verify system.

    About the Proposed Legislation

    The Legal Workforce Act would require every employer in the United States to use E-Verify. Participation in the program would be enforced on an incremental basis:
    • Employers with more than 10,000 employees would be required to start using E-Verify within six months.
    • Employers with 500 to 9,999 employees would start within 12 months.
    • Employers with 20 to 499 employees would start within 18 months.
    • Employers with 19 or fewer employees would start within 24 months.

    Employers can enroll in E-Verify on the USCIS website at any time.

    What This Will Do If Passed

    This bill will:
    • Override any existing state laws about E-Verify.
    • Eliminate the need for Form I-9.
    • Establish penalties for employers that knowingly hire people who are not eligible to work in the U.S. or provide false information while using E-Verify.
    • Ensure that employers are not penalized if they inadvertently, and through no fault of their own, hire someone who is not eligible for employment after receiving incorrect information from the E-Verify system.
    • Permit people who legally work in America to lock their Social Security Number, thus preventing someone else from using it during a job search.
    • Give employers the ability to verify eligibility for existing employees in a "nondiscriminatory manner."

    How Does This Affect the Hiring and Background Screening Process?

    If passed, the Legal Workforce Act will not have an impact on background screening. It will, however, require an important update to every employer's hiring process. After extending a conditional offer, employers may run background checks on their candidates to help make final hiring decisions. This law would add a step to that process.

    After a candidate is hired, the employer would then run the person's Social Security Number through the E-Verify system. The results will show the employer whether or not the person is legally authorized to work in the United States.

    Backgrounds Online watches for new laws that impact background screening and hiring in the U.S. We'll follow this story and post updates as warranted. Read our new blog entries each week for information about compliance-related topics, screening best practices and other useful topics.

  • California Employers Should Prepare for a Ban the Box Law

    October 31, 2017
    Governor Jerry Brown signed Bill AB 1008 on October 14, 2017. The new law establishes a statewide Ban the Box policy for California.
    Backgrounds Online | October 31, 2017

    Governor Jerry Brown signed Bill AB 1008 on October 14, 2017. The new law establishes a statewide Ban the Box policy for California.

    What This Means for CA Employers

    California-based employers will need to be aware of and compliant with all regulations that are included in the Ban the Box Law, which is known as AB 1008. This law:

    • Prohibits California employers from including questions on job applications that ask if the person has a conviction.
    • Stipulates that CA employers may only inquire about an applicant's criminal history or run a criminal background check after extending a conditional job offer.
    • Bans employers from considering arrests that did not result in a conviction.
    • Ban employers from considering convictions that were expunged, dismissed, statutorily eradicated or sealed.

    How California Employers Should Consider Criminal Convictions

    Employers will be permitted to check an applicant's criminal history after making a conditional job offer. If a criminal background check shows that the person has a conviction, then AB 1008 sets some regulations on how employers must proceed.

    To start, the employer must perform an individualized assessment for each applicant. This involves considering the seriousness of an offense and how much time has gone by since the conviction occurred. Employers should also weigh the type of conviction against the type of job an applicant is seeking.

    After assessing an individual, the employer may consider a pre-adverse action (potentially denying employment), but they must first complete the following steps:

    • Inform the applicant that they have not yet, but might pursue the adverse action.
    • Provide the person with a copy of their background check and their rights under the FCRA.
    • Specify the conviction(s) that might cause the person to be ineligible for employment.
    • Supply a copy of the conviction history report (if one exists).
    • Let the person know they have the right to dispute the results of their background report and that they have five business days to provide written notification of their intention to dispute.

    If an applicant notifies a potential employer that they wish to dispute their background check, then the employer must give the person an additional five business days to follow up.

    When the pre-adverse process is complete, an employer may choose to deny employment based on a criminal conviction. The employer must first:

    • Notify the applicant in writing about their decision.
    • Provide a second copy of the applicant's rights under the FCRA.
    • Inform the applicant, in writing, that they have the right to file a complaint.
    • Offer a written document that explains the employer's policies for allowing an applicant to challenge a hiring decision or request reconsideration.
    • Follow any other existing adverse action procedures.

    Concerns and Exceptions

    Concerns have been expressed about Law AB 1008. One is that the law might conflict with or contradict existing laws in California cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. This would make it difficult for employers in those areas to comply with all the laws that affect them.

    There are exceptions for certain types of California employers. AB 1008 will not apply to employers that have fewer than five employees. It also won't apply to state or local agencies that are required to run criminal background checks on all applicants.

    Otherwise, California's Ban the Box Law will cover public and private employers. It goes into effect on January 1, 2018. Prior to that date, California employers may wish to update their screening policies to make sure they will be compliant with AB 1008.

    Remaining compliant with local, state and federal laws that cover hiring and background screening can be difficult. The highly-trained staff at Backgrounds Online keeps up with these laws and creates educational materials, internal controls and additional resources to help our customers with their compliance efforts. If you have questions about how we can help you, please contact us today.