Backgrounds Online Blog

  • Weaknesses In The Missouri Sex Offender Program​

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


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

    About The Audit

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

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

    Schools Are Not Required To Background Check Volunteers

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

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

    Missouri Cannot Account For More Than 1,200 Offenders

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

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

    Concerns About Highway Patrol Procedures

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

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

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

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

    The Importance Of Strong Background Screening Procedures

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

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

  • A Convicted Murderer Got A Job Working With Children

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


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

    The Alleged Assault

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

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

    Violent Past

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

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

    Was The Worker Background Screened?

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

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

    Next Steps For The ACS

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

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

    What Employers Should Know

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Cause Of The Lawsuit

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

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

    Compensation Requested

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

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

    Background Check Authorization Forms

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

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

    Takeaway For Employers

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

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

  • A Hampton City Employee's Shocking Criminal History

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


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

    Charges

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

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

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

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

    Why He Wasn’t Screened

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

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

    The Importance Of Screening Everyone

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

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

    Ongoing Monitoring

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

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

  • A CA Supreme Court Decision Regarding Background Checks

    September 18, 2018
    The Court reviewed two background screening laws to determine if one was vague and the two contradicted each other.
    Backgrounds Online | September 18, 2018

    The Court reviewed two background screening laws to determine if one was vague and the two contradicted each other.

    About The Case

    A group of current and former bus drivers who worked for First Student, Inc., and First Transit, Inc. (known collectively as “First”) filed a class action lawsuit against the employer. The suit, which was initiated by Eileen Connor, alleged that First ran background checks without proper authorization.

    According to the lawsuit, First provided drivers with a pre-hire package that contained an Investigative Consumer Report Disclosure and Release notice. The document reportedly included information about the recipient’s rights and a box people could check to indicate they wanted to receive a copy of their background report. It also reportedly included content that was meant to release First from all claims and damages related to a background investigation.

    Connor’s lawsuit claimed she did not authorize First to conduct a background screening. Before initiating a background check, employers must provide a written disclosure and get the person’s written authorization. This disclosure may not contain any additional content, such as text that says the employer cannot be held liable.

    When the case was initially reviewed in court, First requested and was granted a summary judgment. An appeals court overturned that and sided with the plaintiffs. A major factor in this case and their decision involved two existing laws about background screening in California.

    The Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act and The Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act

    While considering this case, the CA Supreme Court reviewed The Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA) and The Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (CCRAA). After the lawsuit was filed, First claimed that this case should be dismissed because the CCRAA, which governs consumer credit issues, was constitutionally vague and the two laws contradicted each other.

    After consideration, the court determined that the CCRAA was not constitutionally vague and the laws were not contradictory. Associate Justice Ming W. Chin wrote that the court finds: “Potential employers can comply with both statutes without undermining the purpose of either. If an employer seeks a consumer’s credit records exclusively, then the employer need only comply with CCRAA. An employer seeking other information that is obtained by any means must comply with ICRAA.”

    In their ruling the court also stated that “It seems to us that such a duality does not make legal compliance particularly difficult, much less impossible.”

    What Employers Should Know

    Every employer should be aware that they must obtain authorization from a person before running a background check on them. California employers should further be aware of the ICRA and the CCRAA.

    The ICRAA is like the state version of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It governs the use of consumer reports, such as background checks, about what can be included regarding a consumer’s character and reputation. The CCRAA covers consumer credit issues. While the two may have similarities and overlap a little, the conclusion of the CA Supreme Court is that both are valid, clear laws that stand alone and can both be followed.

    Employers must comply with laws that are in effect wherever they operate. The team at Backgrounds Online makes efforts to keep up with these laws and provide educational resources that can assist with your compliance efforts. If you have questions about how we can help with your background screening process, please contact us today.

  • Hiring The Wrong Person: What’s At Stake

    September 11, 2018
    The website B2C published an article about the true cost of not properly vetting and background screening job applicants.
    Backgrounds Online | September 11, 2018

    The website B2C published an article about the true cost of not properly vetting and background screening job applicants.

    About The Article

    A website called Business 2 Community did an investigation about what can go wrong when a business makes a bad hire. They came to some important conclusions.

    Bad hires were listed under two categories: people who have slightly misleading information on their resumes and those who lie to gain positions for which they are not qualified. According to the article, both types of bad hires can cause:

    High Turnover Rates

    If you hire someone who is not qualified for the position, they are far less likely to succeed. This can lead to several unfortunate outcomes. The new hire might have to be let go during their first few months. A new employee might decide they are in over their head and leave on their own. Existing employees may become frustrated while dealing with an unqualified person and decide to move on.

    Additional Expenses

    Bringing a new hire up to speed can be costly. It requires time, assistance from existing team members and other resources. If, after all that, you end up losing the new person or other employees, you’ll have to start the entire process again.

    Lower Productivity

    The article stated that a bad hire can be troublesome for morale, lead to a decrease in teamwork and, therefore, result in lower productivity for the entire team. It referenced a survey that showed 39% of businesses reported a direct link between bad hires and lowered productivity.

    Avoiding Bad Hires

    Business 2 Community concluded that the best way to avoid hiring people who are not qualified is to run comprehensive background checks on the candidates you are considering. A background check can provide the details you need to find people who are qualified to help your business succeed. Rely on them to:
    · Verify employment. Learn about the candidates work history, job title, responsibilities and more.
    · Verify education. Find out if a person completed their schooling, earned required degrees and has the training they need to handle a position.
    · Verify credentials. Some positions require a person to have a specific type of credential. Use a background check to find out whether or not they do.
    · Check references. A background check can include the results of a detailed interview with an applicant’s former managers and colleagues. This information helps show you their work ethic, communication skills and much more.

    Protect Your Business

    Businesses rely on background checks to help them make informed hiring decisions. These reports can also show you if a candidate has serious criminal convictions that could be a detriment to your company. Use that information to help protect your team, customers and the public. Running a background check is an essential part of your due diligence process that can save you time, money and stress.

    Have questions about how background checks can help your business? Contact the experts at Backgrounds Online. We are available Monday – Friday from 5am to 6pm to assist you..

  • Lyft Will Run Comprehensive Background Checks

    September 04, 2018
    The rideshare company, like many on-demand businesses, has established stronger background screening policies.
    Backgrounds Online | September 04, 2018

    The rideshare company, like many other on-demand businesses, has established authoritative background screening policies.

    What Led To This Decision

    The necessity for comprehensive and ongoing background checks has become a newsworthy topic. We’ve seen national stories about major companies like Home Advisor and Uber not having sufficient background screening policies. This can cause people to wonder if it is safe to utilize the services of such companies.

    Rideshare provider Lyft is in a similar spotlight.

    A Lyft driver name Vilchez Lazo was recently arrested in San Francisco. He is charged with raping four women whom he allegedly lured into his vehicle under the pretense that he’d been assigned to pick them up. Lazo was not on duty at the time so he was not supposed to drive any customers. Therefore, Lyft would have no record of him providing rides to these passengers.

    Following an investigation, it was revealed that Lazo has been living in the country illegally. He is currently in jail and could be sentenced to life in prison. If Lazo is released, then the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency hopes to deport him back to Peru.

    Lyfts “Enhanced Detection Process” For Background Screening

    According to a Lyft spokesperson, Lazo "fraudulently represented himself" when he applied for a driving position. Per company policy, Lazo authorized and passed a background screening. The background check package that was used for him and other drivers, however, is said to be a quick, minimal check of a few databases. It would not provide enough information to show that Lazo wasn’t eligible to be hired as a contractor.

    Lyft agreed to step up and run more comprehensive background checks on their applicants. They also agreed to run annual screenings on active contractors to see if anyone who works/contracts for them incurs a new conviction of which they should be aware.

    Kate Margolis, a Lyft spokesperson, offered the term Enhanced Detection Process when talking about the company’s new background screening policies. She did not provide additional information on what they would include.

    Background Checks For Every Industry

    Businesses that offer on-demand services have an obligation to their customers to thoroughly screen every employee and contractor. While this is the case for every industry, people who work for on-demand industries are likely to have direct and frequent access to the public. They may drive customers, enter their homes or have access to personal data.

    Every business should run background checks and consider annual screenings for all employees, volunteers and contractors. This helps the employer create and maintain a safe workplace, protect the public and show they are performing due diligence.

    What Are Your Screening Policies?

    If one of your employees committed a crime, would you be able to show you took reasonable precautions to ensure the person was safe and qualified before hiring them? Running background checks is an ideal way to demonstrate that you are taking steps to only hire people who are safe and eligible.

    If you need help creating background screening packages that are perfectly suited for every type of position in your business, then please contact us. Our team of experts is adept at learning about your hiring and screening needs and then putting together fully customized solutions for you.

  • Vermont Prohibits No Rehire Clauses For Discrimination Cases​

    August 28, 2018
    A state laws bans employers from including Not Eligible For Rehire statements into settlements and discrimination cases.
    Backgrounds Online | August 28, 2018

    A state law bans employers from including “not eligible for rehire” statements into settlements for discrimination cases.

    About The Law

    This is an amendment to existing anti-discrimination/harassment laws. It was inspired by the #MeToo movement and is the first of its kind. The updated law:
    • Bans employers from including “No Rehire” clauses in discrimination settlement agreements.
    • Prohibits nondisclosure agreements that say employees may not report instances of harassment.
    • Establishes an easier method for employees to report sexual harassment to the Vermont Human Rights Commission or Attorney General's Office.

    Why It Was Created

    The law is intended to help victims of sexual harassment and discrimination. Currently, employees who report these crimes may be required to sign a settlement agreement that say the person may not work for the employer, its parent company or any affiliates.

    Representative Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, primary author of the bill, felt this practice was unfair. She commented that the no rehire clauses can place a large burden on someone’s career and specified that if you are in “a specialty field in a small state; that might mean you can never work again."

    Corporations typically own numerous brands. One prime example of this in Vermont is Unilever, which owns more than 400, including Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. If a Vermont employee signed a no rehire clause with a company like that, it could drastically limit their future employment options.

    Opposition

    Not everyone agrees that this law should have been implemented. Those who oppose it say “separation agreements” are a common business practice. One reason for this is to help employers avoid the risk of lawsuits. If a person who was involved in a discrimination suit applies for a job with the same company but is unsuccessful, they may be able to file a case against the company and claim this was an act of retaliation if a no rehire clause is not in the settlement.

    If, however, the former employee signed an agreement that includes a no rehire clause, then that risk is alleviated. This clause is used to stipulate that the person agrees they will no longer be employed and won’t attempt to seek another position within the company.

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) chimed in on this topic. They suggested that the practice of asking people to sign no rehire clause could be construed as an act of retaliation against the person who filed a discrimination or harassment claim.

    What VT Employers Should Know

    Vermont employers should be aware of and compliant with this new law. Employees who settle discrimination or harassment claims cannot be forced to sign no rehire clauses.

    Laws that cover what employers can and cannot do vary by state. It can be difficult to keep up with all the laws that affect your business. At Backgrounds Online, we are dedicated to providing educational resources to help our clients with their compliance efforts.

    If you have questions about background screening where your business operates, please contact us. Our highly trained team is available Monday – Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.

  • Illinois Passed A New Law For Rideshare Drivers

    August 21, 2018
    The state is requiring applicants for rideshare jobs to provide more information during the background screening process.
    Backgrounds Online | August 21, 2018

    The state is requiring potential rideshare drivers to provide more information when going through the background screening process.

    About The Law

    Illinois House Bill 4416 (HB 4416) requires people who apply for rideshare driver jobs to provide specific data points to prospective employers. This includes their full legal name, Social Security Number and Date of Birth in addition to the information that was already required. Applicants must also list any commonly used nicknames or aliases.

    Previously, applicants only had to supply their:
    · Address
    · Age
    · Driver’s license number
    · Motor vehicle registration
    · Automobile insurance liability

    HB 4416 will make it easier for rideshare employers to run accurate and authoritative background checks on job seekers. It also stipulates that transportation network companies shall not hire any individual who has “been placed on court supervision, within the past 7 years, for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

    The law was put into effect on July 1, 2018.

    What Initiated This Change

    Businesses that offer rideshare services have been under intense scrutiny. A 2018 investigation by CNN discovered numerous counts of sexual abuse, assault and other criminal activities had been committed by Uber and Lyft drivers. This revelation resulted in stricter and more frequent background screenings for employees and contractors at these companies.

    Illinois is one of several states taking steps to create stronger regulations for background screening rideshare drivers. HB 4416 was introduced by Senator Daniel Biss who said “By requiring drivers to provide more than just basic information, ride-sharing companies are now held to the same standard that other licensed transportation services.”

    HB 4416 is intended to create safer circumstances for people who utilize the services of rideshare companies. Biss started working on the bill after a rideshare driver in his district was arrested for a DUI while on the job. The driver was already under court supervision for a previous DUI.

    Takeaway For Illinois Employers

    Businesses that hire rideshare drivers in Illinois should be aware of and compliant with HB 4416. As long as employers are taking steps to follow this law they should have no issues. The bill states that any “transportation network company that reasonably relies on the information provided by an individual shall not be liable for violation of the Section concerning driver requirements.” Failure to follow this law, however, will make the employer liable.

    Best practice for employers is to document their screening policies and expectations. If an issue does occur, then they can show they have guidelines in place that include the regulations established in HB 4416.

    It is essential for employers to be aware of and compliant with laws that are in effect where they operate. The team at Backgrounds Online strives to keep up with these laws and provide educational resources that can help with your compliance efforts.

    If you have questions about background screening or what we can do to help you with your hiring and compliance practices, please contact us today

  • NAPBS Sues An Arkansas Court For Impeding Background Checks

    August 14, 2018
    The District Court of Benton County stopped providing essential records.
    Backgrounds Online | August 14, 2018

    The District Court of Benton County stopped providing records that are necessary to complete background checks in that area.

    What’s Happening With The Court

    The District Court of Benton County has been denying requests from Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) for records that are used to complete background check reports. According to the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), the court is doing this after misinterpreting the State Supreme Court's Administrative Order 19. NAPBS representatives believe the court’s current policy violates this order and existing state law.

    After Benton County stopped provided records to CRAs, additional Arkansas courts followed suit. In total, ten courts adopted the policy of refusing to supply documents that should be made available to CRAs. This has become an issue for employers that rely on the data contained in court records to help them make informed decisions.

    Background checks serve many essential purposes such as helping businesses create safe workplaces, confirm applicants are eligible for specific positions and learn if a candidate has a violent or otherwise serious criminal history that might make them ineligible for hire. Without these records, employers cannot review all the facts they need when hiring, considering a current employee for a promotion or handling other common duties.

    The NAPBS Reacts

    The NAPBS promotes ethics and performance standards for the background screening industry. Their core values include compliance, integrity and the advancement of knowledge. They have expressed a high level of concern over this ongoing issue in Arkansas and taken steps to remediate.

    Step one was to contact the Arkansas State Judiciary Committee on Automation and ask for CRAs to regain the right to receive records from local courthouses. They also contacted state officials, the Governor and members of the Arkansas Legislature to make the same request. No assistance was provided, however, as the court’s decision was considered to be "within the Clerk's purview" based on the content of Administrative Order 19.

    An NAPBS task force was created to “retain local legal counsel and guide outside counsel's decisions.” They acquired the services of a local law firm and sent letters to Arkansas courts asking them to start providing records to CRAs again. These letters advised that additional actions would be taken if the request was not met.

    Progress So Far

    After receiving these letters, seven courts started providing records again. The other three have continued to deny this service. To remedy this, the NAPBS and their legal counsel prepared litigation that asks for public records data services to be restored to all CRAs.

    An official complaint against the Bentonville County District Court was submitted to the Arkansas State Court on July 20, 2018. The NAPBS is happy with their progress and believes they have a strong case for requiring the remaining courts to restore access to records that are necessary for background screening.

    What This Means For Employers

    Employers that operate in Arkansas should be aware that CRAs are currently unable to obtain records from Bentonville, Craighead County-Lake City, and Craighead County-Jonesboro Division courts. While the NAPBS is actively working on this, background checks that require records from those courthouses will either be delayed or must be completed without that data.

    Backgrounds Online is proud to be an accredited member of the NAPBS. We strongly support their mission to uphold a high level of ethics, protect consumers and ensure the advancement of knowledge. Our team is committed to helping clients get the facts they need to create safe workplaces, protect their brands and make educated business decisions.

    If you have questions about what we can do to enhance your hiring, background screening and onboarding efforts, please contact us today.

  • Hawaii Prohibits Employers From Asking About Salary

    August 07, 2018
    The Aloha state passed a bill to help eliminate gender-based pay disparity.
    Backgrounds Online | August 07, 2018

    The Aloha state passed a new bill to help eliminate gender-based pay disparity among individuals who do equal work under equal circumstances.

    Pay Disparity In Hawaii

    The legislature of Hawaii confirmed that the state still has a large pay disparity between workers of different genders who have the same level and type of responsibilities. This has been known for years and attempts have been made to correct the problem. However, the legislature determined that at the current rate of progress, pay parity will not be reached until 2058.

    This disparity exists despite the fact that Hawaiian law prohibits employers from paying one person less than another due to their gender. As of 2015, the gender-based wage gap was at sixteen cents on the dollar. According to an announcement from the legislature, the gap is “far worse for women of color: for every dollar a white male made, African-American and Asian-American women made only seventy-three cents and Latina women made only sixty-seven cents.”

    One reason for this, the legislature believes, is that employers often consider an applicant’s salary history when making decisions about hiring and compensation. Therefore, people with lower salaries may have a difficult time finding a position in which they could get paid the amount they deserve. This led to the creation of Senate Bill 2351 (SB 2351).

    About The Bill

    SB 2351 prohibits employers from asking job seekers about their salary history. If an applicant voluntarily provides this information, then the employer may verify and consider it, but otherwise employers, employment agencies or their agents may not:

    · Ask an applicant to reveal their salary history.
    · Use an applicant’s previous wages to determine what salary, benefits or other compensation to offer if the employer inadvertently obtains this information.
    · Pay lower wages to an employee because of their gender when that person does an equal amount of work under equal circumstances as another employee of a differing gender.
    Differentials in pay are allowed if they are based on seniority, a merit system, an occupational qualification or another permissible factor.
    · Discriminate or retaliate against an employee who discusses their salary with co-workers or encourages other employees to exercise their right to discuss their own salary.

    There are exceptions to these rules. SB 2351 does not apply to:

    · Current employees who are being considered for promotions.
    · Public positions for which the salary and other forms of compensation are determined pursuant to collective bargaining.

    Takeaway For Employers

    Employers in Hawaii should be aware of SB 2351 and prepared for compliance when it goes into effect on January 1, 2019. While this bill only applies to businesses that operate in the Aloha State, every employer should be aware that pay disparity laws are being passed throughout the country.

    We’ve seen multiple bills that prohibit employers from asking applicants about their salary history. More are likely to be created. When such laws are implemented, employers must comply or they could face penalties, lawsuits or related issues.

    The team at Backgrounds Online is committed to providing educational resources that help employers with their compliance and best practice efforts. If you would like to learn more about how we can help your hiring, screening and onboarding process, please contact us.

  • Arizona And North Carolina Pass Ex-Offender Hiring Laws

    July 30, 2018
    Both states passed laws to help former convicts find employment and protect employers who hire them.
    Backgrounds Online | July 30, 2018

    Both states passed laws to help former convicts find employment and protect employers who hire people with a criminal history.

    Second Chance Laws

    Numerous states have implemented laws to help people with criminal histories find employment after serving their time. People with convictions often have difficulties getting hired and that lack of opportunity can lead to recidivism. Second chance laws are designed to help individuals and reduce crime rates.

    Examples of Second Chance laws include banning the box (not allowing employers to include questions about criminal records on job applications), expungement laws (creating opportunities for former offenders to have their convictions made unavailable to the public) and requiring individual assessments (asking employers to review each offense and determine whether or not it is relevant to a job opening).

    Some laws are designed to protect employers who hire individuals that have criminal records. Both Arizona and North Carolina passed bills that create new guidelines regarding the employment of people who have convictions.

    Arizona

    House Bill 2311 (HB 2311) was signed by Governor Doug Ducey and goes into effect on July 21, 2018. This law creates protections for employers that hire individuals who have minor or irrelevant criminal histories. If an employer is sued for negligent hiring, HB 2311 provides liability protections. Specifically, it disallows the plaintiff from introducing evidence that an employee had a conviction, unless it was a violent or sexual offense, before the hire date.

    This protection is not available if:

    · An employee with a criminal record is hired as a security guard or law enforcement officer and commits a violent offense or uses excessive force.
    · An employee who was convicted of misusing monies or property is put into a position that includes fiduciary responsibilities and then commits another act of misuse of monies or property.

    Learn more about HB 2311.

    North Carolina

    Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 774 (HB 774) to help create job opportunities for former offenders and protect employers who hire someone with a criminal history. The bill allows individuals to apply for a “Certificate of Relief” which can help with their job search. Applicants who have this certificate can enjoy more opportunities for potential employment.

    The bill provides examples of how North Carolina residents may be eligible to receive this certificate. Courts may issue one if the former offender:

    · Has 3 or fewer Class H or I felonies and misdemeanors.
    · Completed their sentence at least twelve months prior to applying for the certificate.
    · Complied with every requirement of their sentence, such as probation, educational requirements or anger management classes.
    · Is actively engaged (or planning to be) in training, education or rehabilitation programs.
    · Has no pending charges.
    · Does not pose an unreasonable risk to the safety of the public or an individual.

    HB 774 also protects employers who hire former offenders. The bill states that hiring someone who possesses a state-issued certificate eliminates any liability for potential claims of negligent hiring. It also stipulates that if an employee with a certificate incurs a new conviction, they must inform their employer within ten days.

    Learn more about HB 774.

    Keeping Up With Relevant Laws

    There are numerous laws that affect the hiring process. They often differ by state or even city. Keeping up with laws that are active where your business operates can be difficult.

    Backgrounds Online provides educational resources to assist you with your educational and compliance efforts. If you have questions about how we can improve your hiring process with compliant background screening, please contact us. Our educated staff is available Monday – Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.