June 18, 2019State lawmakers created a bill to help prevent wage discrimination. It prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history.Backgrounds Online | June 18, 2019
State lawmakers created a bill to help prevent wage discrimination. It prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history.
About The Act
House Bill 1696 (HB1696), known as An Act Relating To Wage And Salary Information, was passed on April 25, 2019. It bans employers from asking job seekers to provide their salary history. It also prohibits employers from contacting an applicant’s former place of employment to ask what the person earned there.
If a candidate voluntarily discloses their current salary, a WA employer may confirm the information. However, this can only occur after the employer extends an offer that includes the proposed level of compensation. Job seekers who can show that an employer violated this law may be entitled to remedies including recovery of wages and interest.
The Reason For This Bill
State legislators noted Washington already had laws in place to prevent wage gaps based on gender or other protected factors. Despite this, the state recognizes that disparities continue to exist. An Act Relating To Wage And Salary Information addresses this problem and specifies that wage discrimination leads to increased rates of poverty for women and children.
The text of the bill notes that when employers inquire about an applicant’s salary history, this type of discrimination is allowed to continue. It further noted that women have historically been offered lower levels of compensation for comparable positions even when they have comparable education and work history.
New Pay Scale Laws
HB1696 includes a section that covers requests for pay scale information. When asked, employers must inform candidates about the minimum salary for the position to which they are applying. Such a request can be made after an initial offer has been extended.
For some positions, a salary range may not exist. In these cases, the employer must determine a minimum salary prior to listing the availability of that position. This also applies to position transfers and promotions.
What Employers Should Know
Employers in Washington should be aware that this bill goes into effect in July, 2019.
Every employer should be aware that laws prohibiting questions about salary history are becoming more common. Washington is the 9th state to implement such a bill and more are likely to follow. Even if the area where you operate does not have a pay equity law in place, best practice is to not ask applicants about salary history and to provide comparable wages for comparable work. Exceptions typically exist for seniority, to accommodate the cost of living and other factors.
Backgrounds Online makes efforts to keep up with federal, state and local laws that affect employers. We provide educational resources such as this blog, monthly Newsletters, compliant forms that can be used during the hiring process and more. If you are bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. Our experienced team can help you create a fair, transparent background screening process that empowers you to build strong teams and make informed decisions. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
June 11, 2019A Human Resources Manager was hired to work for the county of Cuyahoga. After a local news source inquired about her criminal history, she was let go.Backgrounds Online | June 11, 2019
A Human Resources Manager was hired to work for the county of Cuyahoga. After a local news source inquired about her criminal history, she was let go.
About The Hire
Jennifer Vickers was employed as a Manager for the Human Resources department in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. She reportedly beat out 306 other candidates who applied for the same position. Before anyone is granted a job with the county, they must first authorize a background check. A report on Vickers should have contained information about a potentially disqualifying conviction.
When Vickers was hired, a local news team conducted an investigation into her past. What they learned caused them to question the county’s hiring decision.
Vickers has a first-degree misdemeanor conviction. Her charge was for inducing panic after allegedly accusing a stranger of abducting her one-year-old child from a local bookstore. Vickers was convicted, sentenced to six months of probation, fined and ordered to continue sessions with her psychologist. She reportedly stated the false claim was intended to raise awareness of the need for parents to closely watch their children in public.
Upon learning about Vickers’ conviction, the news team sent a list of questions to the county. They included:
- Why was Vickers terminated?
- Did she pass a background check?
- Did she disclose her criminal conviction?
- Her position would have included reviewing/approving background checks for other county applicants, correct?
- Does HR routinely hire people without background checks?
- How many other people applied for this job?
Following the investigation and inquiry, details about Vickers’ past were revealed publicly. As a result, Vickers was fired after only 4 days on the job. Her termination letter stated: “Employment is at-will, which allows the County to end the employer-employee relationship without notice and without reason.”
Do Your Candidates Have Serious Convictions?
Cuyahoga County was placed in an embarrassing and unfortunate position when news about Vickers was revealed. A situation like this can lead to a loss of trust in the county. Every employer has a responsibility to ensure the people they hire are deemed safe and reliable.
Background checks that are compiled by an accredited Consumer Reporting Agency can help confirm if an individual is both qualified and eligible for a position. They contain details about reportable convictions, show a candidate’s employment and education history and provide other useful facts.
No organization wants to be the subject of an investigation or review because of someone they chose to hire. The proper use of background checks can help prevent situations like the one that occurred in Cuyahoga County.
If you are hiring and need compliant, reliable background check information, please contact us. Our experienced team will help you create custom background screening packages that empower you to get the data you need to make informed decisions and create a safe work environment. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
June 04, 2019An Oregon based news team learned that private schools are not required to run background checks on employees.Backgrounds Online | June 04, 2019
An Oregon based news team learned that private schools are not required to run background checks on employees.
A School Investigation
KATU, a news source based in Oregon, conducted an investigation to find ways that parents can help keep their children safe at private schools and care facilities. This was prompted by a disturbing case in which a piano instructor was arrested for alleged sexual abuse to students. The teacher, who works for Let's Make Music and Dance Academy, was released after bail was posted.
The investigation revealed that private schools and academies in Oregon are not required to run background checks on potential employees.
Before a person can be hired to work at an Oregon public school, they must pass a background investigation. This includes a criminal records search that shows if the person was convicted of a violent or otherwise serious crime. The primary goal is to establish a safe environment for students, parents and people who work at these facilities.
Backgrounds Checks Encouraged
After releasing their findings, KATU called upon private schools and academies to start background screening all potential employees. This includes contractors, volunteers and anyone else who might work with or in proximity to students.
Members of the KATU team also interviewed an individual they referred to as a national expert on background checks. He told them parents should be aware that screenings are not legally required at private schools throughout the United States. Because of this, he recommended that parents ask about background screening policies before enrolling their children in any educational or care facility.
During their investigation, representatives from KATU spoke with Gil Fried, a professor at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, to get the perspective of an educator outside of Oregon. Fried told them: “Parents should make sure a private school has gone through the process of doing a complete background check of any new hire.” He also suggested that background reports should include criminal searches in every state and on a federal level. Fried further advocated that all school employees be re-screened annually to ensure they remain eligible to work with young people.
The case against the piano teacher is still pending. Until it is resolved, the instructor is not on active duty. He is, however, supported by his place of employment, which is run by his mother. She posted a statement on the company website that said the teacher was innocent and the “safety of your children always has been and will be our first priority.”
Ensuring Background Checks Are Comprehensive
As KATU learned, comprehensive background checks should be run on all candidates before job offers are made. This is especially imperative for individuals who would work with children, the elderly or any vulnerable populations. Every background check should feature a variety of criminal searches, including county, state, national and federal. They should also include searches on sex offender registries and terrorist watch list databases.
By running criminal searches, employers demonstrate they are performing due diligence to create a safe environment for everyone. This also helps the employer avoid unnecessary risk and builds trust in their brand.
If your business or organization is bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, then you will need to run background checks. The team at Backgrounds Online is experienced at building screening packages that are perfectly tailored for any type of position in every industry. Contact us for assistance and to answer your questions Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
May 30, 2019After a woman with a long and serious criminal history was approved as a nanny, the company’s background screening policies are being questioned.Backgrounds Online | May 30, 2019
After a woman with a long and serious criminal history was approved as a nanny, the company’s background screening policies are being questioned.
Nanny With A Record
When a couple in Boston needed help providing care for their children, they turned to Care.com. The website allows customers to find a variety of providers for seniors, children and pets. Visitors can enter a specific set of criteria to help them pinpoint someone who is well-suited for their situation.
The Boston couple selected a woman named Stephanie Lee Fox. After she had been employed as their nanny for a few months, the couple determined that Fox had stolen over $280,000 from their bank account. They filed charges and soon after learned their nanny had a lengthy criminal record.
After the couple’s story went public, the Boston Globe conducted an investigation on Fox. They found 111 charges against her, including theft, identity fraud, forgery and receiving stolen property. These charges were filed in multiple counties where the woman had lived during a seven-year period.
Fox pleaded guilty to federal bank fraud charges after being arrested for allegedly stealing from the Boston couple. This case brought a great deal of scrutiny to the background screening practices utilized by Care.com.
Background Checks For Care.com
People who are approved to provide care must then authorize a background screening. Care.com offers four levels. Their website cautions visitors that the results may not be accurate or complete. It also advises customers to do their own research on potential caregivers.
The couple from Boston suggested that Care.com should have, at minimum, uncovered the woman’s criminal records in Massachusetts. Had any details about her convictions been revealed, the couple would not have employed her. At the time Fox was hired, she was on probation and was in the process of paying back debts created by her previous criminal activities.
Finding Criminal Records
One of the primary purposes of a background check is to reveal reportable criminal records that could show a person might be a security risk. In the case of Fox, numerous convictions could have been returned in a background report. This information should have immediately disqualified her as a caregiver.
So how are criminal records found?
A comprehensive background check begins with a Social Security Number Trace. This confirms the person’s identity and shows counties where they have lived. That information informs a Consumer Reporting Agency where to run county criminal searches. This involves going directly to county courthouses to obtain accurate and up-to-date records.
The background report can be expanded by adding state, nationwide and federal criminal searches. These searches can show if a person has a conviction in a location where they have not recently lived. When results are found, they are typically followed up with a county search to again obtain the most complete information available.
Without running a suite of criminal searches, serious convictions can go unnoticed. That was the case with Fox. Had a thorough background check been run; she would not have been approved as a nanny and then hired by the Boston couple.
Other Cases Against Care.com
The Boston situation is not the only time Care.com’s screening policies have been questioned. Cases of abuse and even wrongful deaths have been levied against providers who were listed on the website. In some of these cases, the provider was later found to have a variety of convictions, including drunken driving and violent crimes.
People who are hired to provide care are expected to be thoroughly screened and deemed safe to work with vulnerable populations. When it is learned that someone was approved as a care provider despite having serious convictions, people may question whether or not it is safe to utilize services from the company that authorized such individuals. The Boston couple who hired Fox was quoted as saying: "The background screening system exists solely to catch people like her. It's a real shame in this case it failed."
Key Takeaway For Employers
Every employer is responsible for taking steps to ensure the people they hire or allow to represent them are safe and reliable. This is accomplished by running background checks after an interview or conditional offer and before a final hiring decision is made. These reports show if a candidate has serious criminal records and can verify they have the required education, employment history, license or credential.
When you are bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, start with a comprehensive background check. The team at Backgrounds Online can help you create screening packages that are ideal for any type of position. Contact us for expert assistance Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
May 28, 2019A Colorado resident filed a Class Action Lawsuit against Starbucks. He alleges the company wrongfully denied him employment and violated his FCRA rights.Backgrounds Online | May 28, 2019
A Colorado resident filed a Class Action Lawsuit against Starbucks. He alleges the company wrongfully denied him employment and violated his FCRA rights.
Basis of the Lawsuit
Jonathan Rosario applied for a job at a Starbucks in Colorado. He was not hired. Rosario says he was denied employment after the coffee company reviewed incorrect information on his background check.
According to Rosario, some of the records that appeared on his report do not belong to him. He also states that he was not notified of a pending adverse action based on the results of that report. If he did not receive a pre-adverse notice, then he would not have been able to refute the results, which is a right granted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Background Checks Should Contain Accurate, Reportable Data
Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA’s) are authorized to provide employment screening services. These entities must do everything possible to ensure the data they report is accurate and that it can legally be used for employment purposes. This includes taking steps to confirm the identity of every person who is being screened and verifying the data on a background check is for the correct individual.
When dealing with common names, CRA’s must be extra cautious. Identity Verification is always the first step. CRA's use full names, Social Security Numbers, birth dates and other reliable data points to ensure they are referencing the right person. If these steps aren’t followed carefully, then there is a chance that the screening company could supply data for the wrong person.
Applicants Must Be Allowed to Dispute Background Check Results
Even when every precaution is followed, there is a possibility that a report will contain some information for the wrong person. This is a rare scenario, but it can happen due to identity theft or common names. The FCRA stipulates that employers must give applicants time to review the results of their background check and, if necessary, file a dispute before an adverse action occurs.
According to Rosario, he was not notified of any issues or given an opportunity to dispute the results of his report.
About the Lawsuit
Mr. Rosario filed a suit on behalf of himself and anyone who might have gone through the same experience. It is possible that other people who were denied employment at Starbucks could learn about this and choose to participate in the Class Action Lawsuit. If more join, then the claims against Starbucks could increase dramatically.
Rosario seeks a trial by jury and hopes to recover actual, statutory and punitive damages. He also claims that he suffered monetary damages because he was not granted employment. Furthermore, he seeks compensation for interest, legal fees and any other form of relief the court feels is justified.
How This Impacts Your Business
Job seekers who learn about this case may be prompted to consider whether or not they’ve been placed in similar situations. If they have, then they could initiate their own lawsuits.
This situation should serve as a reminder that it is essential for employers to remain compliant with FCRA regulations. Best practice is to work with accredited CRA’s that provide employment screening services in accordance with federal and state laws.
If you have questions about compliance or employment screening, please contact Backgrounds Online for assistance. Our staff is FCRA certified and committed to providing compliant and legally viable background check reports that help protect our customers while they make informed hiring decisions.
May 23, 2019To help improve internal safety measures, the rideshare company will regularly background screen all of their drivers.Backgrounds Online | May 23, 2019
To help improve internal safety measures, the rideshare company will regularly background screen all of their drivers.
In April, 2019, Lyft posted a blog entry to announce an increased commitment to the security of both riders and drivers. It stated that their goal is to make: “every ride— in a car, on a bike, or on a scooter— safe, comfortable, and reliable.”
Their blog post contained two important declarations. In 2019 they will utilize ongoing background screening services and an improved method for confirming the identity of job seekers. These are essential steps for the company, particularly following a series of terrifying stories about various rideshare operators committing serious crimes while on the job.
Ongoing Background Checks For Lyft
Every potential Lyft driver must authorize and pass a background check. This is a common and essential step for all employers - background screening candidates, volunteers and contractors. Lyft uses a background check package that includes identity verification, various criminal searches and a check on all 50 state sex offender registries.
As of April 2019, the company will also start ongoing screening for their drivers. This service will show them if a current contractor incurs a new reportable conviction. If so, then relevant details can be reviewed to help them determine whether or not the individual remains eligible for employment. Lyft explained that they are doing this to enhance their “ability to detect criminal activity and providing an additional level of safety across the platform.”
New Identity Verification Policy For Lyft
Background checks begin with identity verification. Lyft is implementing a stronger validation process. All potential drivers will be asked to provide a valid driver’s license and one other form of “photographic identity.”
Their goal is to prevent fraud, such as identity theft. In their blog post, Lyft stated that fraud is a rare occurrence for them but they wish to take additional steps to ensure this does not occur. If an applicant is found to have committed fraud; they will be permanently banned from the Lyft platform.
Lyft’s post included other security measures they are following. Read the full entry.
Takeaway For Employers
Every employer is responsible for taking reasonable precautions to protect their customers and the public. That includes watching for candidates who could pose a risk of violence, theft or other crimes. The most important and essential part of this process is running comprehensive background checks that show if the individual has relevant convictions.
Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber received a lot of scrutiny and negative press for not having tougher security measures to protect customers. These are prime examples of why every employer must have authoritative vetting and background screening practices that are followed at all times.
If your organization needs background checks to demonstrate you are performing due diligence, please contact us. Our experienced team can help you put together background check packages that empower you to make informed decisions and create a safe workplace. We are available to assist you and answer questions Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
May 21, 2019As the Second Chance movement continues to gain momentum, new Ban the Box laws are being considered and implemented throughout the U.S.Backgrounds Online | May 21, 2019
As the Second Chance movement continues to gain momentum, new Ban the Box laws are being considered and implemented throughout the U.S.
Ban The Box Basics
Ban the Box (BtB) laws are designed to create employment opportunities for people who have criminal convictions in their past. Numerous states, cities and employers have implemented BtB laws. While they are not consistent, the basic concept is usually the same. Employers may not include questions about criminal records on their job applications.
When an applicant checks a box to indicate they have a conviction, the employer is unlikely to consider whether or not it has bearing on their eligibility. In most cases, the individual is immediately disqualified. Banning the box creates more opportunities for people to be interviewed. Candidates who appear to be qualified can then authorize a background check that helps the employer make an informed hiring decision.
New BtB bills are passed each year. Here are three examples of cities that recently approved or are considering similar laws.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The city of New Orleans passed a Ban the Box law in 2016 and created a stronger version in 2019. This one covers applications for city contractors, which were not included in the original bill. Individuals who apply for these contract positions will be asked to authorize a background check after being deemed otherwise eligible.
New Bern, North Carolina
New Bern adopted a Ban the Box law in March, 2019. Corey Purdie, a resident, was a major proponent of this bill. He was arrested as a teenager and incarcerated for nine years. When he was released, Purdie had difficulty finding employment. A BtB law could help people who are in similar situations.
Waterloo City, Iowa
Waterloo City appears to be on the verge of passing a BtB law. This is not the city’s first attempt. Similar bills were presented in 2012 and 2015, but both were rejected. A new bill was introduced in 2019. This version is expected to pass and become active later in the year.
Background Checks Remain Essential
As more Ban the Box laws are created, one thing remains constant. Employers that operate in the U.S. are encouraged to run comprehensive background checks before making hiring decisions. These reports show the employer if a candidate has a reportable conviction and provide useful information such as whether or not the person has a required license, employment history or education.
Abraham Funchess, Executive Director of the Waterloo Commission on Human Rights, has been a proponent of banning the box since 2012. He believes that people who served their time deserve a second chance and remains strongly in favor of employers performing due diligence. While speaking about background checks, Funchess stated: “We obviously are asking people to continue to let common sense rule. We wouldn’t be asking anyone to uh put sex offenders in schools we wouldn’t be asking people who have embezzled to be working at banks.”
What Employers Should Know
If you operate in an area where a Ban the Box law is active, then you may not include questions about criminal records on your job applications. Regardless of your location, current best practice is to run background checks after conducting an interview. Some states have specific requirements – consult with your legal counsel if you are not certain which laws apply for your organization.
When you’re ready to run background checks, please contact us. Our team keeps up with compliance-related topics and can help you build customized background screening packages. Running them shows you are performing due diligence, dedicated to creating a safe workplace and getting the facts you need before making hiring decisions.
May 16, 2019Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill that creates new background screening requirements for the marijuana industry.Backgrounds Online | May 16, 2019
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill that creates new background screening requirements for the marijuana industry.
About The Bill
In 2018, Michigan implemented a law that stipulates any person who has an ownership stake for a medical marijuana business must authorize a state-run criminal background check. Upon satisfactorily passing, the individual can be granted a license. Senate Bill 203 created additional background screening regulations.
Michigan now requires background checks on individuals who apply for the following positions within the marijuana industry:
· Anyone with a direct or indirect business interest exceeding 10%.
· Any person who has a sole proprietorship.
· Any person with a partnership or limited liability partnership.
· General and limited partners.
· Members and managers of a limited liability company.
· Corporate officers or employees with equivalent titles for private corporations.
· Any member of a multi-level ownership enterprise who may annually receive more than 10% of gross or net profits.
· Individuals or members of non-profit corporations who have shareholders rights (in accordance with articles of incorporation or bylaws).
· In most of these cases, spouses must also be background screened.
Senate Bill 203 was signed by the Governor on April 16, 2019. Learn more.
Support For The Bill
The bill received strong support from MI lawmakers. Senator Michael McDonald , a sponsor, stated: “The goal of this reform is to provide additional clarity to the state’s medical marijuana law and improve the licensing process for everyone involved. My bill will enable state regulators to more effectively and efficiently do their job and protect Michigan families.”
Other supporters of the bill were said to feel it will improve the effectiveness of medical marijuana oversight. While the 2018 law regarding background checks is still seen as worthwhile, the overall goal of the new bill is to improve regulations and guidelines for this growing industry.
What MI Employers Should Know
Employers in Michigan that are involved in the marijuana industry should be aware of Senate Bill 203. It updates the definition of an “applicant” for a marijuana business license. Individuals who fit this definition will be required to authorize and pass a background check before a license is granted.
In recent years, a few states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Additional state laws may follow. As more Americans become involved in this industry, employers must remain compliant with new laws that are passed where they operate. Each employer may wish to consult with legal counsel to review relevant laws and internal policies.
The Importance Of Background Checks
Background checks are mandated for various industries and positions. There is a good reason for this. A background report can help a hiring manager determine if a candidate has the qualifications, license, employment history or education they need to succeed. It can also show if an applicant has a serious criminal conviction that could render them ineligible for employment.
Many convictions are minor and would not cause an organization to refuse to hire a candidate. However, employers should always perform due diligence to check for violent, sexual and other reportable criminal records. Hiring an individual who has a serious conviction can lead to a loss of trust in your brand and legal repercussions.
If you are hiring, bringing or contractors or in need of volunteers, background checks are a crucial component in your process. The team at Backgrounds Online can help you customize FCRA compliant background checks for any position. Contact us Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm for immediate expert assistance.
May 14, 2019Walt Disney Parks and Resorts was sued for two alleged violations of federal law. A California court ruled in favor of the employer.Backgrounds Online | May 14, 2019
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts was sued for two alleged violations of federal law. A California court ruled in favor of the employer.
About The Case
A lawsuit known as Culberson v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts was considered at a California court. Culberson was the lead plaintiff in this class action suit. He alleged that Disney was guilty of two violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
The lawsuit asserted that Disney failed to properly inform job seekers of their intent to run background checks. It also accused the employer of not following a federally mandated adverse action process. Claims like these are common. They can be extremely costly for employers who are found to have willfully violated the FCRA.
This case was reviewed at the Los Angeles Division of the Superior Court of California. Disney was granted a summary judgment which meant the lawsuit would be dropped without the need for a trial. While this outcome was against the plaintiff, every employer should have policies in place to ensure they follow laws where they operate. This includes complying with the FCRA.
Before running a background check, employers must provide a document that discloses their intent to do so. The person who is meant to be screened must give consent to this and an authorization form. Both must be standalone documents that do not contain any additional content. Learn more.
Culberson claimed Disney’s disclosure included unnecessary content. While this may have technically been true, the court considered whether or not it constituted a willful violation of the FCRA. They determined it did not and noted that this situation failed to demonstrate “objective unreasonableness.”
Every employer has the right to review background checks for applicants, employees, contractors and volunteers. In some cases, an organization may wish to deny employment based on something contained in that report. Before doing so, they must send the person a letter that states an adverse action is being considered, a copy of the background check and other documentation. The applicant must then have time to review this information and file a dispute if they feel something is incorrect. Until this process is complete, the employer cannot take an adverse action.
In the lawsuit against Disney, Culberson claimed the employer took adverse actions before completing this mandatory process. The suit alleged Disney has an internal status that labeled certain candidates as “No Hire.” This was said to indicate the employer made hiring decisions before job seekers were allowed to appeal.
The court disagreed. Their findings said Disney only used “No Hire” internally and that was not the same as making a final determination. Therefore, the employer was not found to have violated the adverse action process.
What Employers Should Know
Every employer should be aware that they must comply with relevant federal and state laws. Failure to do this could result in class action lawsuits, fines or other repercussions.
Backgrounds Online provides educational resources and documents that can help bolster your compliance efforts. We offer sample disclosure and authorization forms that can be customized as needed. Our site also contains sample pre-adverse and adverse notices as well as information on how to handle all these tasks properly.
If you need to run background checks for employment-related purposes, please contact us. Every member of our processing team earns their FCRA certification and stays educated on background screening laws and best practices. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
May 09, 2019Employers that operate in New Mexico should be aware of a new expungement law and updates to the state’s Ban the Box bill.Backgrounds Online | May 09, 2019
Employers that operate in New Mexico should be aware of a new expungement law and updates to the state’s Ban the Box bill.
Ban The Box Updates
New Mexico has an active Ban the Box law that prohibits public sector employees from including question about criminal convictions on job applications. A new law known as the Criminal Offender Employment Act was signed on April 3, 2019. It states that private employers may not ask about an applicant’s arrests or convictions until after “a review of the applicant's application and upon discussion of employment with the applicant.”
This law expands the state’s Ban the Box policies to encompass private organizations. Every employer in New Mexico is still encouraged to run criminal background checks on potential employees, contractors and volunteers. The bill specifies that a criminal history can be sufficient cause to deny employment. However, it will help ensure that an employer cannot automatically disqualify a job seeker before completing an initial review of the candidate’s qualifications.
This act becomes effective statewide by mid-June of 2019.
New Expungement Law
A law known as the Criminal Record Expungement Act was also signed on April 3, 2019. It grants New Mexico residents the right to have certain types of arrest and conviction records expunged. To do this, the person must file a petition with the court. If their request is granted, then the record(s) in question can be sealed.
Once a criminal record is sealed, it cannot be reviewed or considered by employers. That means it will not be available on a background check.
Exceptions can be made for certain positions such as law enforcement or medical workers. The Act decrees: “Upon entry of an order to expunge, the proceedings shall be treated as if they never occurred, and officials and the person who received the order to expunge may reply to an inquiry that no record exists with respect to the person; provided that arrest or conviction records shall be disclosed by the person and officials in connection with any application for or query regarding qualification for employment or association with any financial institution regulated by the financial industry regulatory authority or the securities and exchange commission.”
This bill becomes effective on January 1, 2020.
Employers In New Mexico
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed these bills and they cover most employers in the state. If you operate in New Mexico you should prepare for compliance with both laws.
Every employer should create and maintain written hiring and background screening policies. When new laws are implemented, these policies should be reviewed and updated as necessary. For example, employers in New Mexico can add information about these two laws and ensure everyone involved in the hiring process is aware of and prepared for any required changes.
Keep Up With Laws Where You Operate
It is the responsibility of every employer to be aware of and compliant with laws that are in effect where they operate. To help, Backgrounds Online provides educational resources such as this blog, a monthly newsletter and more.
If you need to run background checks that comply with federal and state laws, please contact us. Our processing team members earn their FCRA certification and work diligently to keep up with laws that impact our customers. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
May 07, 2019Executive Order 93 prohibits state agencies from asking job seekers about their current or previous salary history.Backgrounds Online | May 07, 2019
Executive Order 93 prohibits state agencies from asking job seekers about their current or previous salary history.
Equal Pay Day In North Carolina
April 2, 2019 was known as Equal Pay Day in North Carolina. Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 93 which addresses a gender-based wage gap in the state. The Governor shared his thoughts on this subject: “Women have strengthened our state and our country for generations, but an unfair wage gap continues to hurt women workers—especially women of color. My administration is taking action to address the gender pay gap among state workers.”
According to a Press Release (PR) issued by the Governor’s office, the median wage for men in North Carolina is $45,000 while women only earn around $36,400. The PR further stated that this gap is even larger for women of color. Executive Order 93 is a step towards fixing that issue.
Executive Order 93
The Order bans all state agencies from asking job seekers about their salary history. It also stipulates that these employers may not use a person’s salary information, if it is known, when determining what compensation to offer.
To help enforce this, the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) will make “best efforts” to ensure state agencies do not use salary information in a “discriminatory manner when making employment decisions.”
Every state employee’s salary is public record in North Carolina. OSHR will monitor salaries to look for potentially discriminatory practices. Barbara Gibson, Director of OSHR spoke in favor of this order. She said: “State government is committed to ensuring that all women have fair and equitable compensation. We appreciate Governor Cooper’s commitment to leveling the playing field for women, who represent a large portion of state government's workforce."
Salary History In The U.S.
North Carolina is not the only state dealing with gender-based salary disparity issues. Several others have passed laws that prohibit employers from asking job seekers about their current or previous salary. Various cities have also passed similar laws.
To help raise recognition about the wage gap, a group of equal rights advocates started a website called Equal Pay Day. It discusses wage gaps by gender and demographic. The site also has information about Equal Pay Day events throughout the nation.
What Employers Should Know
As new laws are passed to reduce wage gaps, employers should be aware that it may not be legal to ask applicants about their salary history. Even if you don’t operate in a state or city where a law is currently in place, one could be implemented in the future. Employers should document their hiring and screening policies and review them periodically to ensure they continue to cover all relevant laws.
If you are bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. Our team works hard to keep up with laws the impact you. We can help you build background screening packages that are ideal for any position and we provide numerous resources to educate you about laws that are active in your state or industry. Our team is available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
April 30, 2019A proposed bill would allow ex-convicts to obtain licenses that are required for various career paths.Backgrounds Online | April 30, 2019
A proposed bill would allow ex-convicts to obtain licenses that are required for various career paths.
What The Bill Hopes To Accomplish
According to the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, MS has the third highest rate of incarceration in the country. There is great concern that people who spent time in prison will be unable to find jobs after serving their sentences. An inability to obtain employment often leads to more criminal acts and increased recidivism.
To help prevent this, the state is considering House Bill 1284, which is also referred to as the Fresh Start Act. It would help ex-convicts obtain the licenses they need to acquire a variety of jobs in the Magnolia State. Many positions - such as barber, teacher and nurse - require a license. Without one, a job seeker will be ineligible to work in multiple industries. Currently, Mississippi residents who have criminal convictions are prohibited from obtaining certain licenses that are required by many industries.
State Representative Mark Baker spoke in favor of the proposed bill. “It is clear to us that obviously employment is the number one precursor in the reduction of recidivism. Fresh Start is an important piece of legislation which will begin to allow individuals and open up the barriers for individuals to reintegrate back into the work force."
The Fresh Start Act would provide credentialing opportunities for more than 60 professions. There would, however, be limitations. Individuals who served their time, were not arrested again and are actively trying to change their lives would be qualified. People who get arrested again are not likely to be approved.
Second Chance Laws
This bill would be considered part of a Second Chance movement that has been growing throughout the U.S. The most well-known example is Ban the Box, which calls for the removal of questions about criminal history from job applications.
Second Chance laws encourage employers to run criminal background checks after an interview or conditional job offer. While the primary goal is to give ex-convicts new employment opportunities, these laws can also benefit employers by giving them a larger applicant pool.
Running Background Checks
Employers in MS and throughout the country always run background checks when hiring new employees, bringing on contractors or considering volunteers. Background checks show if a job seeker has a serious criminal history that could present a risk to the employer or the public. They also provide essential information about an applicant’s employment and education history. Running them demonstrates you are performing due diligence and provides information that helps you build strong teams.
When you are ready to screen people on behalf of your organization, please contact us. The experienced team at Backgrounds Online can help you build custom screening packages that show if a candidate has a reportable conviction, required license and is otherwise qualified for the position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.