Backgrounds Online Blog

  • Kansas Implemented A Ban The Box Law For State Employers

    May 8, 2018
    Governor Jeff Colyer signed a law that prohibits state employers from conducting criminal background checks until after an initial interview.
    Backgrounds Online | May 15, 2018

    Governor Jeff Colyer signed a law that prohibits state employers from conducting criminal background checks until after an initial interview.

    About This Law

    A new law in Kansas known as Executive Order 18-12 decrees that within 90 days, all “Executive Branch departments, agencies, boards, and commissions under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Governor shall take action to ensure that, during the initial stage of a state employment application, job applicants shall not be asked whether they have a criminal record, and a criminal record shall not automatically disqualify an applicant from receiving an interview.”

    This law does not apply to positions that cannot be held by individuals who have any type of criminal history. If an existing law decrees that applicants with “prior criminal conduct” are ineligible for hire, then a criminal inquiry may be conducted before an initial interview.

    Executive Order 18-12 does not prohibit state employers from running criminal background checks. In most cases, however, it stipulates that a background investigation may only begin after an applicant has gone through the interview process. This law was put into effect immediately upon signing.

    What Led To This Bill

    In a Press Release, Governor Colyer stated: “Studies have shown that gainful employment is a major factor in reducing recidivism rate among former offenders. This is simply about treating people as individuals and allowing them to explain their circumstances at a later point in the process”.

    The goal of this bill is to help people who have served sentences for criminal convictions as they try to find employment. It acknowledges that individuals who have criminal histories often have difficulties with obtaining jobs.

    If a state employer can only check for criminal records after an interview, the applicant receives an opportunity to showcase their qualifications and eligibility for a specific position. This also broadens the applicant pool for employers and gives state agencies a chance to learn more about candidates who may be well suited for their job openings.

    Growth Of The Ban The Box Movement

    In 1998 Hawaii became the first state to pass a Ban The Box law. Since then, numerous states and cities have written and approved similar bills. While these laws are not consistent from place to place, they share the same underlying goal: to help job seekers who have minor, irrelevant or outdated conviction that could prevent them from finding employment.

    The term Ban The Box comes from a once-common practice of asking about criminal records on employment applications. Job seekers were told to check a box if they had any type of arrest or criminal history. Those that did were unlikely to receive consideration.

    By removing this box, candidates are expected to have a better opportunity to showcase their skills and eligibility. Many similar laws being passed today are also known as “fair chance” or “second chance” bills but they are considered to be part of an ever-growing Ban The Box movement in America.

    Best Practices For Employers

    Not every state has a Ban The Box or related law, but new fair chance bills are being passed regularly. Best practice is for employers to get ahead of this and implement relevant policies. This includes removing questions about criminal records from job applications and holding off on requesting background checks until after an interview is conducted.

    Employers face a vast assortment of laws that cover hiring and background screening. At Backgrounds Online, we make efforts to keep up with these laws and provide educational resources to help our clients stay compliant. If your business is hiring, we can help accelerate the process and offer resources that enhance your compliance efforts. Please contact us Monday – Friday between 5am and 5pm for assistance.

  • Court Delays in San Diego County

    May 8, 2018
    Due to recent changes at the courthouse, consumer reports such as background checks are likely to be delayed. This could affect employers operating in that area.
    Backgrounds Online | May 8, 2018

    Due to recent changes at the courthouse, consumer reports such as background checks are likely to be delayed. This could affect employers operating in that area.

    About the Changes

    County clerks are responsible for pulling criminal records and other files that are commonly used in background check reports. The number of such clerks who are employed at the San Diego courthouse was recently cut in half.

    There is also a new cap on the number of records a clerk can retrieve each day. New policies reduce that amount to half of what it was previously. This means there are fewer people on duty - and the ones who remain can only procure a limited number of records.

    Court Delays

    Because of these changes, businesses that rely on records from the San Diego courthouse should anticipate the possibility of significant delays. Background checks that include components such as a County Criminal Court Search from that area may be delayed between 30 and 60 days.

    This situation affects the entire background screening industry and every company that does business at the courthouse. Backgrounds Online is working diligently with our criminal research department to help find a solution to this issue.

    Takeaway for Employers

    Employers that operate in the San Diego area should be aware of this so they can plan accordingly. If your business is going to run a background check that will require records from the San Diego courthouse, we recommend submitting your request ASAP. Our team will get started right away and do what we can to offer the fastest possible turnaround time.

    If you have any questions about this delay or need any other assistance with your background screening efforts, please contact us. Our team is available Monday - Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.

  • Uber Will Implement Stronger Background Screening Policies

    May 1, 2018
    The transportation company announced that it will screen drivers regularly to promote a safer and more trusted experience for their customers.
    Backgrounds Online | May 1, 2018

    The transportation company announced that it will screen drivers regularly to promote a safer and more trusted experience for their customers.

    Uber's Updates

    In the summer of 2018, Uber plans to implement numerous policies to enhance their safety standards. Among them are two big changes to the company's background screening practices.
    • Annual Screenings. Currently, Uber runs background checks on all potential drivers. Despite this, a few Uber drivers were found to have criminal convictions. That discovery prompted questions about whether or not the rideshare company was being thorough enough to protect their customers. To address these concerns, Uber will start running annual criminal background checks on all of their drivers - even if they are not required to do so by law.
    • Offense Notifications. Uber will also take advantage of technology that informs them if an employee incurs a new criminal record throughout the year. This will let Uber officials know if a driver is convicted of an act of violence, DUI or another charge that could make them ineligible to drive customers.

    Uber's Blog Entry

    On April 12, 2018, Uber published a new blog entry. It began with a message from their CEO that said the company is committed to safety. The CEO stated: "I'm announcing several new improvements to double down on safety in our app, strengthen our screening process, and bring a new powerhouse advisor on board to help shape Uber's next chapter."

    In addition to the enhanced screening practices, Uber is developing a Safety Center for their app. It will offer safety tips and related information, allow riders to create "trusted contacts" with whom they can share details of any Uber trip and an emergency button that connects the individual with 911 assistance.

    Uber further announced that they are expanding their Safety Advisory Board by hiring former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. Their blog entry ended by announcing that Uber is ready to move forward with safety protocols.

    The Importance of Screening On Demand Workers

    We've said this before, but it's worth repeating: it is critical to thoroughly and regularly screen on demand workers. This includes people who will drive passengers, have access to personal data and visit customer's homes to provide a variety of services.

    These workers have unprecedented access to the public. Every employer who operates in an on demand industry must take steps to help protect their customers and reputation. Running comprehensive background checks on all potential workers is a great start. But it shouldn't end there.

    We recommend implementing criminal monitoring for on demand workers. This simple, but effective tool informs you if someone who represents your business has a new record of which you should be aware. Ongoing monitoring regularly checks national criminal databases, sex offender registries and terrorist watch lists. If someone who works for you incurs a new conviction, you'll get the facts you need to determine how to proceed.

    Is It Time to Enhance Your Screening Policies?

    Uber is upgrading their safety measures to meet public demands. Consumers expect businesses to take every step possible to ensure their safety. This is especially true for businesses that provide direct-to-consumer services. Are you performing due diligence and protecting the people who rely on your business?

    If you need to upgrade your screening practices or want to talk about best practices for your industry, please contact us today. Our highly trained and knowledgeable staff can provide assistance and answer questions Monday - Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.

  • Target to Pay $3.7M for Allegedly Unfair Hiring Practices

    April 24, 2018
    The retailer was hit with a class-action lawsuit that claimed its hiring and background screening policies discriminate against African-Americans and Latinos.
    Backgrounds Online | April 24, 2018

    The retailer was hit with a class-action lawsuit that claimed its hiring and background screening policies discriminate against African-Americans and Latinos.

    About the Claim

    A class-action lawsuit alleged that Target violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against people based on race, gender and other protected characteristics. The retail giant was accused of refusing to hire African-American and Latino job seekers who had irrelevant or outdated criminal convictions.

    According to a Target spokesperson, the retailer does not ask about criminal records on their job applications but does run criminal background checks on all applicants. This is a common and essential practice, but employers should only consider reportable records when making business decisions.

    The plaintiffs in this lawsuit allege that Target refused to hire people based on decades-old convictions that should have no bearing on an individual's ability to earn entry-level positions. If these claims are true, then Target could have been utilizing practices that have a disproportionately negative affect on African-American and Latino job seekers.

    The President of the Legal Defense and Educational Fund issued a statement in connection with this lawsuit. It stated that background checks are a legitimate tool for employers but warned that Target's policies were "harmful to many qualified applicants who deserved a fair shot at a good job."

    Results of the Suit

    Target agreed to pay more than $3.7 million to settle this class action lawsuit. Individuals who may have been denied employment based on background checks run between 2006 and the date of the suit could be eligible for priority hiring today or a cash payout of $1,000. The retailer will also donate $600,000 to non-profit organizations that help former prisoners find jobs.

    As part of the settlement, Target agreed to review their current hiring policies. While the retailer did not acknowledge any specific wrongdoing, they did agree to consider adopting more modern guidelines regarding their use of criminal records data during the screening process. They will also work with third-party experts who will help review their current policies and suggest updates as necessary.

    The Importance of Fair Screening Policies

    Criminal background checks are an essential part of the hiring process. The parties who initiated the lawsuit against Target agreed on this point but felt the retailer used background reports in an unfair and discriminatory manner.

    Establishing fair and consistent screening policies is crucial for every employer. There is a growing movement in the United States to help individuals who have minor convictions that should not impede their ability to find jobs now. Ban the Box and other "second chance" policies have been implemented in numerous states and cities. New laws are introduced and passed every year. Employers that fail to update their hiring policies to accommodate these laws could face legal actions like the lawsuit that was filed against Target.

    Keeping up with all the laws and regulations that affect your business can be difficult. The team at Backgrounds Online is dedicated to learning about these laws and providing educational resources to help our clients with their ongoing compliance efforts. If you would like to learn more about how we can help enhance your screening efforts, please contact us today.

  • The VA is Accused of Not Screening Medical Workers

    April 17, 2018
    An investigation conducted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) revealed the Veteran's Affairs Department failed to run background checks on 6,200 staff members.
    Backgrounds Online | April 17, 2018

    An investigation conducted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) revealed the Veteran's Affairs Department failed to run background checks on 6,200 staff members.

    About the Investigation

    In 2012, the Office of Inspector General initiated an investigation to determine if VA medical facilities were running and reviewing background checks properly and in a timely manner. This process included eighteen VA facilities and continued for a 5-year period.

    When the investigation was completed, the OIG concluded that the VA had not been effectively managing their background screening process. They released a list of their findings and recommended next steps.


    Despite the fact that background checks are required for most positions at VA medical facilities, the OIG determined that 6,200 people were hired without being screened during a 5-year period. To make matters worse, the OIG also discovered that when background reports were ordered, they were often not run within the required time constraints. In fact, more than 10,000 VA workers did not have their background screenings completed within the allotted time constraints.

    The OIG released an audit with their findings. It declared that the VA had to rely on "data from the Office of Personnel Management's Personnel Investigations Processing System to monitor the program. The OIG also had to rely on that dataset to analyze personnel suitability actions and determine the status of employee background investigations." Their document suggested that the department responsible for evaluating compliance with suitability program requirements was understaffed and lacked sufficient resources to fulfill their duties.

    This audit also suggested that the VA may have exposed veterans to medical personnel who were not properly vetted. Therefore, it was unknown whether or not some VA staff members were fully qualified or if they had serious criminal records that would have prevented them from obtaining positions in the medical industry. The OIG stated that this is a violation of Executive Order 13764, which stipulates every person must be background screened before being appointed to any federal department or agency.


    In their audit, the OIG recommended that the Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security, and Preparedness take on several tasks:
    • Establish robust management oversight for the personnel suitability program
    • Implement a monitoring program
    • Ensure that reliable data is collected and maintained
    • Establish key performance metrics
    • Facilitate workload management
    • Obtain corrective action plans from the VHA

    The OIG further recommended that the Executive in Charge, Office of the Under Secretary for Health take steps to ensure future background screenings are handled correctly. They also asked for improved record keeping policies to track relevant employee data such as whether or not a person was deemed suitable to be granted a position within a VA medical facility.

    The Importance of Screening

    Background checks are used to create and maintain safe working environments; confirm an applicant's eligibility and qualifications; and empower employers to make informed decisions. They are essential for every employer and especially critical for positions in which the staff will work with potentially vulnerable individuals.

    If your business is looking for background screening solutions, please contact us today. Our team is service-oriented, highly trained and available from 5am to 5pm (PST). Turn to them when you have questions, need assistance putting together screening packages for any position or want help with another aspect of your background screening process.

  • HomeAdvisor Sued for Allegedly False Background Check Claims

    April 10, 2018
    The San Francisco District Attorney's office alleges that HomeAdvisor advertisements mislead the public about the company's background screening policies.
    Backgrounds Online | April 10, 2018

    The San Francisco District Attorney's office alleges that HomeAdvisor advertisements mislead the public about the company's background screening policies.


    According to a lawsuit filed on March 14 2018, HomeAdvisor - a business that connects customers with local contractors, plumbers and other professionals - runs allegedly misleading advertisements that claim the workers they recommend have all been background screened. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón is leading efforts to prove the company is breaking California laws that are intended to protect consumers.

    The lawsuit alleges that HomeAdvisor only screens the owners of independent businesses and does not run background checks at all when working with franchises, independent contractors or large national companies. If this is true, then the implication is that workers who could be granted access to customer's homes have not been screened. This raises concerns that people could inadvertently hire an individual who has a violent or otherwise serious criminal history.

    Gascón said: "Companies like this offer a convenient service, but they also introduce strangers into our homes. They must operate their businesses in a way that is within the parameters of the law and not misleading."

    What the Lawsuit Requests

    The 17-page lawsuit references several HomeAdvisor ads that give the impression every person who works on the company's behalf has passed a background screening. San Francisco's District Attorney's office asked that the company be prohibited from making untrue or misleading statements in their advertisements.

    This lawsuit also asks the court to establish penalties if HomeAdvisor is found guilty of future infractions. For each violation of specific sections in the Business and Professions Code, the District Attorney's office asks the court to levy a fine of $2,500. In addition, the lawsuit asks that the court require the defendant to restore "every person in interest all money and property which was acquired by the defendants through their unlawful conduct."

    San Francisco's Superior Court will hear the case on April 12, 2018.

    Why Thorough Screening is Essential

    Your customers expect you to do everything possible to ensure the people who represent your business are considered to be safe and trustworthy. This becomes even more critical when people who work on your behalf have direct access to customers, private homes and sensitive data. Running background checks is one of the best and most important ways to show your customers you are taking steps to protect them.

    It is equally crucial to ensure the type of background screening you do is sufficient for each position. For example: when screening applicants who might enter customer's homes you should run a full array of criminal searches. This requires more than a basic background check. In this scenario, an employer should take additional precautions such as running a State Level Criminal Search, National Criminal Database Search and Sex Offender Registry Search.

    To ensure ongoing security and peace of mind, we also recommend Criminal Monitoring. This is a service that checks for new criminal records incurred by anyone who represents your business. It is an easy way to find out if someone who works for your, directly or indirectly, has a new conviction of which you should be aware.

    Takeaway for Employers

    Taking steps to protect your employees and customers is an essential part of running a business. Failing to do so, or misleading the public about your background screening and related practices, could lead to tragedy, fallout from the public and lawsuits.

    When you run background checks on everyone who represents your business, you show that you are performing due diligence and operating in the best interest of your customers. A background report is a low-cost investment that provides long-term benefits for you, your company and your reputation.

    If you have questions about how to get started or need assistance putting together screening packages for employees, volunteers, contractors or anyone else, please contact our knowledgeable staff today for expert assistance.

  • A Background Check Contained Records for the Wrong Person

    April 3, 2018
    After applying for a teaching position, a woman authorized a background check. She later learned her report contained criminal records that did not belong to her.
    Backgrounds Online | April 3, 2018

    After applying for a teaching position, a woman authorized a background check. She later learned her report contained criminal records that did not belong to her.

    Her Story

    A woman who applied for a teaching position with the Tomball Independent School District agreed to a background screening. This is a standard procedure. Screenings are conducted to protect students and staff and to ensure the applicant is eligible for hire.

    Unfortunately, this screening did not provide the expected outcome. The woman's report contained information about nine criminal convictions. None of them actually belonged to her. These records were for another woman who had the same birth date and maiden name.

    How Could This Happen?

    When running a background check, the first step is to verify the subject's identity. This can involve several steps, especially if the person has a common name. The rest of the background report cannot be completed until the identity is verified.

    In some cases, an identity search may return multiple results. When this happens it is crucial for the Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) that is preparing the report to obtain all the data they need to ensure they are screening the correct individual. That did not happen in this situation.

    Aftermath of the Screening Issue

    The woman who sought employment with Tomball Independent School District had also submitted several other applications. She wondered why she was having such difficulty finding a job - until she learned about the mistaken identity. Some of the crimes that were incorrectly attributed to her included cocaine possession, theft and robbery.

    Since this disturbing discovery, the woman set out to clear her name. She has had some success and was recently hired as a substitute teacher. However, she expresses concern that a similar situation could happen to others and cause people to lose out on jobs for which they are perfectly qualified and eligible.

    Part of the issue is that basic information about criminal records can be found on various public records websites. If employers rely on these sites or utilize the services of companies that do not adhere to a high standard of data quality, it is possible that other job seekers could suffer from cases of mistaken identity.

    The Importance of Using an Accredited CRA

    An article written by a local news agency claimed the CRA that compiled the woman's background check is not accredited by The National Association Of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). The NAPBS promotes a high standard of ethics and performance in the screening industry. To become accredited, a CRA must prove that they have high standards in areas such as:

    • Consumer Protection
    • Legal Compliance
    • Client Education
    • Researcher and Data Product Standards
    • Verification Service Standards
    • General Business Practices

    Backgrounds Online is proud to be accredited by the NAPBS. We are committed to providing screening services that are accurate, compliant and trustworthy. All of our screening professionals must earn their FCRA Certification. This teaches them important lessons about compliance and helps prepare them to maintain a high standard of background screening excellence.

    When Running Background Checks

    When you run background checks, it is important to utilize the services of a reliable CRA. The team at Backgrounds Online is experienced, highly trained and prepared to help provide solutions for all of your screening needs. We become your partner in the screening process and provide authoritative background checks that contain reportable data you can use to make informed business decisions.

    If you have questions about what we can do for you, please contact us today. Our team is available Monday - Friday from 5am to 5pm (PST).

  • Washington Passed a New State Ban the Box Law

    March 27, 2018
    Governor Jay Inslee signed the Fair Chance Act on March 13, 2018. This bill prohibits employers from asking about criminal records early in the hiring process.
    Backgrounds Online | March 27, 2018
    Governor Jay Inslee signed the Fair Chance Act on March 13, 2018. This bill prohibits employers from asking about criminal records early in the hiring process.

    About the Law

    Washington's Fair Chance Act (HB 1298) creates new rules for private and public employers. It states that employers may not:
    • Include questions about criminal records on applications.
    • Post job advertisements that suggest people who have a criminal history are not eligible or should not apply.
    • Implement hiring policies that automatically exclude individuals who have a criminal record, unless they are required to do so by law.

    Employers may run criminal background checks or inquire about an applicant's criminal history, but only after first determining the person is otherwise qualified and eligible for hire. If an applicant has a criminal record, then the employer may use that information when making a final business decision.

    Penalties for Non-Compliance

    Employers who do not comply with HB 1298 can be penalized. After the first violation, the employer will receive an official notification that explains the situation and includes an offer of agency assistance.

    Should a second violation occur the employer can be fined up to $750.00. Additional violations would result in fines of $1,000.00 for each occurrence. Penalties will be enforced by the State Attorney General's office.

    The Ban the Box Movement

    During the last few years, we've seen numerous Ban the Box laws implemented across the country. Their overall goal is to help create second chances for individuals who have criminal histories. One of the most common components calls for employers to remove inquiries about criminal records from job applications.

    Many applications used to include questions about whether or not the person has been arrested or convicted of a crime. If so, the person was asked to check a box. People who did were unlikely to receive further consideration. Removing these questions and establishing related rules, such as prohibiting employers from running background checks until a candidate's eligibility is determined, is intended to help people with minor convictions as they search for jobs and re-enter society.

    Employers retain the right to decide if any applicant is a good fit for their business, but they are called upon to examine all the facts first.

    Takeaway for Employers

    As the Ban the Box movement continues to grow, eliminating questions about criminal records from job applications is becoming a common best practice. Employers that operate in multiple locations should be aware that numerous states and cities have their own laws in place. They are not consistent, so employers must be compliant with laws that are active in locations where they do business.

    Keeping up with these laws can be difficult. The team at Backgrounds Online makes efforts to learn about new bills and provide educational resources that can help with your compliance efforts. When you work directly with us, we become your partner and provide additional resources and documentation to help with your efforts.

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

  • Volvo Agrees to Pay $70,000 to Settle an EEOC Lawsuit

    March 20, 2018
    The (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently settled a case against Volvo after the car manufacturer rescinded a job offer to a man who appeared to be fully qualified.
    Backgrounds Online | March 20, 2018

    The (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently settled a case against Volvo after the car manufacturer rescinded a job offer to a man who appeared to be fully qualified.

    Background Story

    A Maryland-based job seeker applied for a position at Volvo in 2014 and received a conditional offer. He agreed to a physical exam and background screening. His anticipated start date was February 9, 2015.

    During his physical, the individual informed a nurse that he was taking Suboxone - a prescription drug he received as part of a drug recovery program. The physical and background screening seemed to go well, and the man prepared for his first day at the new job.

    When he arrived, the man was told his offer had been rescinded. A Volvo employee allegedly informed him that the decision was made because of his Suboxone usage. This unexpected turn of events was reported to the EEOC. They got involved on his behalf and filed a lawsuit against the employer.

    About the Lawsuit

    After reviewing the applicant's case, the EEOC declared that Volvo failed to perform an individualized assessment before making their final decision. Had they done so, the EEOC believed, they would have learned the man had been enrolled in a drug recovery program since 2010. During that time he attended monthly counseling sessions and had regular drug tests to ensure he did not relapse.

    EEOC representatives felt that if the employer had considered these facts they would have determined that the applicant was eligible for employment. The EEOC also pointed out that the man had been successfully employed as both a sanitation worker and a dock worker while participating in his treatment program. Therefore, they concluded, not running an assessment was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    Volvo Settles

    After reviewing the lawsuit, Volvo officials agreed to a settlement. To start, they will pay $70,000 plus equitable relief to the applicant.

    Volvo also agreed to enter a three-year consent that prohibits them from making similar violations. The employer will implement an individualized assessment program and update their internal policies accordingly. They will also provide ADA training, including how to deal with legally-prescribed medications, to their employees. Moving forward, should Volvo encounter another case like this one, they will carefully consider whether or not the circumstances warrant denial of employment.

    Key Takeaway for Employers

    When determining whether or not to revoke a conditional offer based on non-violent criminal records, drug screening results or similar factors, the best practice is to fully assess the situation before making a decision. This involves determining whether or not the circumstances are relevant to the job duties; the applicant poses any risk to the company or its customer and employees; and other factors.

    Keeping up with laws that affect the hiring process can be difficult. At Backgrounds Online we make efforts to stay on top of new and changing laws that impact our customers. We also provide various educational resources including this blog and monthly Newsletters.

    If you have questions about how we can help with your background screening, compliance and related efforts, please contact us today. Our knowledgeable, experienced team is available Monday - Friday from 5am to 5pm PST.

  • Is Your Hiring Process Too Impersonal?

    March 13, 2018
    A new survey by the American Staffing Association states that around seven out of ten people feel the process of searching for a job can be impersonal and cold.
    Backgrounds Online | March 13, 2018

    A new survey by the American Staffing Association states that around seven out of ten people feel the process of searching for a job can be impersonal and cold.

    About the Survey

    The Harris Poll, on behalf of the American Staffing Association (ASA), recently contacted more than 2,100 adult workers in the United States. They asked a variety of questions to learn how people felt about previous job searches and hiring experiences.

    Not surprisingly, the majority of people stated that technology has improved the process and made it easier to find employment opportunities. However, many respondents also said that technology was not all they needed when looking for work. They also hoped for a more personalized approach from potential employers.


    Based on the results of this survey, most Americans are happy to utilize technology to initiate a job search. Even so, eight out of ten people agreed that submitting a resume or application online felt a bit like sending their information into a "black box." The survey concluded that job seekers look for a more personal touch after they express interest in a position.

    Participants were asked how they prefer to receive responses from potential employers. Each person was given a list of contact methods and asked for feedback on which were or were not acceptable. The results, from most to least preferred, were:

    • In-person contact
    • Phone call
    • Email
    • Response via a website on which an account was created to submit the resume
    • Text message
    • Video conference
    • Social media

    In-person responses or phone calls were, by far, the favored method. Richard Wahlquist, President of the ASA stated: "Businesses that rely too heavily on a 'high tech' but largely 'faceless' process are sending the wrong messages to job seekers looking for connections with companies that value their employees."

    Practical Applications

    The key takeaway for employers is that using a more personal approach with job seekers could give you a small edge over your competition. This might involve taking a little extra time to call people or bringing candidates back to the office following a successful interview. Individuals who had technology based follow-ups tended to have more negative feelings about their experience. Only one in four of those surveyed agreed that a text message is an acceptable form of communication in this scenario.

    Most employers face tough competition when vying for top talent. Establishing and maintaining a friendlier, more welcoming approach might help encourage job seekers to choose you. Small touches like phone calls and face-to-face meetings could become a factor when applicants are determining which job offer they will accept.

    Screening Your Applicants

    After identifying an eligible candidate who could be an ideal addition to your team, the next step is to run a background check. At Backgrounds Online we believe this part of the process should also be personal and welcoming. That's why we are a service-first business - our goal is to help clients find the best possible additions to their staff.

    Our team provides direct communication to your applicants as they go through a background screening. We provide the type of service and transparency that survey respondents admitted they were looking for while seeking a new job.

    If you have questions about how we can help improve your applicant's experience, please contact us today. We are here to answer questions and provide assistance Monday - Friday from 5am to 5pm (PST).

  • Kansas City, Missouri Passed a "Ban the Box" Law

    March 06, 2018
    Employers in Kansas City, Missouri should be aware of a "Ban the Box" law that prohibits questions about criminal records on job applications.
    Backgrounds Online | March 06, 2018

    Employers in Kansas City, Missouri should be aware of a "Ban the Box" law that prohibits questions about criminal records on job applications.

    About Ban the Box

    The Ban the Box Movement has grown significantly over the last few years and continues to gain momentum. As of February 2018, 30 states and around 150 cities have implemented Ban the Box laws, all of which are intended to help people with criminal histories find employment opportunities. While these laws vary drastically, the basic concept is to disallow employers from asking about criminal records on job applications.

    In the past, many applications included questions about whether or not the applicant had any type of criminal record. If so, they were asked to check a box. Applicants who checked this box were unlikely to receive further consideration, regardless of the type of record they had. That caused people who were fully eligible to be overlooked by many employers.

    Banning the box increases the likelihood that job seekers will get initial interviews. It also gives employers more chances to discover qualified candidates. This is an important goal of the Ban the Box movement: to help employers acquire a more comprehensive picture of their applicants so they can make informed hiring choices.

    The Decision in Kansas City

    The City Council had a vote about banning the box on February 1, 2018. A councilman who sponsored the bill, Jermaine Reed, believes this is important because thousands of residents are "stigmatized by old criminal records." This can lead to increased unemployment rates and, in turn, higher crime rates.

    Missouri implemented a Ban the Box law in 2016 that applies to state employers. According to city officials, 139 ex-offenders have been hired for government positions since then. After hearing opinions from those who supported and opposed the concept, the City Council voted in favor of the new Ban the Box law. It goes into effect on June 9, 2018.

    What Kansas City Employers Should Know

    Any employer that has questions about criminal records on job applications should remove them to comply with this new law. Since the Ban the Box movement continues to grow, current best practice is for employers everywhere to remove questions about criminal records from their applications, even if they don't operate in an area that has a similar law in place.

    Kansas City employers will still be permitted to ask applicants if they have a criminal history and run criminal background checks. However, that will have to occur later in the hiring process. If an applicant does have a criminal record, then the employer may consider that when making a final hiring decision.

    Missouri also has laws in place to prevent sexual offenders from being allowed to work with children or other vulnerable populations.

    Keeping Up with Compliance

    Every year numerous new laws are passed that affect the screening and hiring process. It is critical for employers to remain compliant. Keeping up with these laws, however, can be difficult.

    At Backgrounds Online we make great efforts to learn about employment-related laws and provide educational resources. If you have questions about what we can do to enhance your background screening and compliancy efforts, please contact our knowledgeable staff for assistance.

  • A New Drug-Related Law Affects Employers in Maine

    February 27, 2018
    The state of Texas has been fighting a legal battle to become exempt from certain EEOC Guidelines since 2013. They recently won an important decision.
    Backgrounds Online | February 27, 2018

    Maine is now the first state to prohibit employers from taking adverse action against employees or applicants who use marijuana.

    About the Law

    The Maine State Legislature passed a bill that will be known as the Marijuana Legalization Act. It prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against job applicants or existing employees if they test positive for marijuana. Applicants may not be denied employment and existing employees cannot be disciplined, overlooked for promotions or otherwise negatively affected because of marijuana usage.

    This law stipulates that marijuana usage can occur during a person's time outside of the work environment. Employers can still prohibit employees from using marijuana while on the job or bringing it into the workplace.

    Employers with Zero Tolerance Drug Policies

    Some employers have zero-tolerance policies for job seekers and current employees. This new law directly conflicts with such policies. It does specifically state that adverse action cannot be taken "solely" because of a marijuana usage. This has led to speculation that some employers may find ways to continue their zero-tolerance policies.

    In an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management, Maine-based attorney Ann Freeman stated: "An employer could argue that they are not taking this adverse action just because someone smoked pot on their own time-they are taking the action because the employee violated the employer's policy."

    If an employer wants to screen employees for marijuana, they must first be granted a state-approved policy. The Maine Department of Labor developed a template for this scenario. It has existed for many years, but until now only a small percentage of Maine employees have utilized this option. More employers may issue requests to take advantage of this policy to in the hopes of continuing to enforce their zero tolerance drug policies.

    Federal Exceptions

    Positions that have federal regulations may be exempt from this law. Individuals who are working under federal contracts will still have to comply with federally-mandated laws that cover marijuana usage.

    Whether or not any federal laws will impact employees who are not working under federal contracts remains to be seen.

    Takeaway for Maine Employers

    Employers in Maine should be aware of this law and prepared for compliancy. Some businesses may have situations that can be exceptions to the law - such as the previously mentioned federal exemptions and for positions that are safety-sensitive - but they must handle such situations in a compliant manner.

    Businesses that operate in Maine are encouraged to review their drug screening policies and make updates as necessary. Individuals who work in Human Resources should be made aware of this law and receive updated versions of internal screening policies. This documentation can include language that stipulates marijuana usage is only allowed outside of work hours. Nothing in the law allows employees to intake marijuana or be impaired in any way due to drug usage while on the job.

    Keeping up with laws that govern the hiring process can be difficult. At Backgrounds Online we strive to stay informed about all laws that affect our customers. We provide educational resources and are also available to help via phone, email or chat. If you have questions about how we can help with your screening and compliance efforts, please contact us.