Backgrounds Online Blog

  • Important Reminder: Employment Laws Still Apply

    July 14, 2020
    Businesses are adapting to massive changes ... but employers must continue to comply with laws that cover the hiring and background screening process.
    Backgrounds Online | July 14, 2020


    Businesses are adapting to massive changes ... but employers must continue to comply with laws that cover the hiring and background screening process.

    Don’t Get Lax With Laws

    We’ve heard from various colleagues and peers in the screening industry: many organizations think federal and state employment laws do not apply during the pandemic. That is incorrect. These laws are active, essential and they will be enforced.

    First, every business must have a permissible purpose to run background checks. Federal law stipulates they can be run for employment considerations such as making decisions regarding hiring or promotions.

    If your business has a permissible purpose and intends to run employment-related background checks, this might be a good time to read through in-house policies and ensure you’re compliant with applicable laws.

    The FCRA

    The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that protects consumers. It established rules for organizations to follow when screening candidates or employees.

    Employers must:

    Provide a standalone disclosure. This document informs the recipient you wish to run a background investigation on them. It needs to be clear, concise and have no additional verbiage. Numerous businesses get into trouble over this simple law. Make sure the disclosure you provide is direct, easy to understand and devoid of unnecessary content.
    Obtain authorization. You may not run a background check until the candidate provides consent.
    Follow the adverse action process. If something on a background check causes you to contemplate an adverse action, you are required to follow some specific steps. Learn more.

    Second Chance Laws

    Multiple states have Ban the Box and related Second Chance Laws. Depending on where you operate, you may need to comply with one or more of them.

    Ban the Box laws typically include items such as:

    • Employers may not ask about arrests or criminal records on job applications.
    • Background checks should be run, but only after an applicant receives an interview or conditional job offer.
    • If a background report contains a criminal record, then an individual assessment should be conducted to determine if it warrants further action.

    Only Review Reportable Records

    It is imperative for employers to make decisions based on current, accurate information. They cannot consider outdated or sealed records. Several states are implementing laws which decriminalize certain offenses or allow residents to expunge low-level convictions. When a criminal record is sealed or expunged, it is no longer publicly available. Such records cannot be reviewed by employers.

    To help ensure you only see reportable records, work with a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) that is accredited by the PBSA (Professional Background Screening Association – formerly the NAPBS). CRAs, like Backgrounds Online, go to county courthouses and other sources directly to ensure the consumer reports they provide are up-to-date and can be used to make business-related decisions.

    Running Background Checks

    Safety is a foremost concern as we all resume business during the pandemic. A critical component is to run comprehensive background checks on applicants, volunteers and contractors. These reports help hiring managers determine if a person is qualified for a position or might present an undue risk.

    When you’re ready to run background checks that help you maintain safe workplaces and build strong teams; please contact us. We are working remotely and available to assist you Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.

  • Do Salary History Bans Work?

    July 07, 2020
    Recent studies have shown that prohibiting employers from asking applicants how much they earn helps establish equal wages for all workers.
    Backgrounds Online | July 07, 2020


    Recent studies have shown that prohibiting employers from asking applicants how much they earn helps establish equal wages for all workers.

    Closing The Wage Gap

    Salary history bans prohibit employers from asking applicants how much they earn. When employers have this information, they often use it to determine what compensation to offer new employees. However, millions of Americans, particularly women and people of certain ethnicities, are commonly paid less than people who do substantially similar work. If their salaries are based on what they earn now, they will continue to be paid unfairly.

    An article in Newsweek referenced a study conducted at the Boston University School of Law. It showed salary history bans “substantially close wage gaps, increasing pay for women by eight percent and black people by 13 percent.”

    Another article from bizjournals.com reported that states with anti-discrimination laws saw salaries improved by 5% on average. It also said the increases were up to 13% for black workers and 8% for women. These higher amounts help ensure employees are treated equally and employers don’t inadvertently discriminate against members of their team.

    An Increase In Anti Wage Discrimination Laws

    Massachusetts was the first to pass an anti-wage discrimination law. Since then, several states have implemented similar bills. While they differ by location, the basics are the same:

    • Employers may not ask about salary history.
    • Upon request, employers must provide the salary range for most positions.
    • People who do comparable work under comparable circumstances should receive comparable salaries.
    • Exceptions can be made to accommodate travel, cost of living, seniority and other factors.

    Asking About Salary Can Perpetuate Systemic Racism

    Numerous studies concluded that people of certain ethnic backgrounds have traditionally earned less than others in the U.S. If people who get new jobs are compensated based on their previous salary, then the racial bias and unfair pay is allowed to continue.

    According to the Newsweek article, when employers make decisions based on an applicant’s income, it: “perpetuates discrimination because low wages paid by a prejudiced or exploitative employer could be used to justify an offer of lower pay at the worker's next job. Salary histories provided a bargaining advantage to employers that would preserve past inequities.”

    A research paper from the Technology and Policy Research Initiative at Boston University School of Law titled "Perpetuating Inequality: What Salary History Bans Reveal About Wages" supports this point. The study found evidence that says disallowing employers from asking candidates about their salary gave job seekers more bargaining power and better wages. This was said to particularly apply to workers who have traditionally been paid less than their counterparts.

    Calls For Societal Change

    In the wake of racially charged protests throughout the world, millions of people are calling for societal changes in many areas of life. Among them is the need to pay all people equally based on their job duties.

    Numerous online publications have run articles about this topic recently. One in Forbes stated: “asking about a candidate’s previous compensation can perpetuate inequality, especially for black and female job seekers. Salary history bans appear to be an effective legislative tool to help eliminate this inequity.”

    While several states have salary history bans, more than 30 do not. Additional laws are expected to be introduced over the next few years. Backgrounds Online will continue to provide updates here and in our State Laws section.

    Best Practices

    Employers everywhere are encouraged to follow a few modern hiring best practices:

    • Don’t ask applicants how much they earn.
    • Remove questions about arrests and convictions from job applications.
    • Run comprehensive background checks after conducting an interview or making a conditional job offer.
    • Take steps to create a fair workplace.

    When your organization needs background checks for new and existing employees, please contact us. Our experienced team can answer your questions and help you create custom screening packages for any position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.

  • Will Background Checks Show Records Incurred At Protests?​

    June 30, 2020
    Employers can plan ahead and determine how they will consider records that applicants incurred while attending protests.
    Backgrounds Online | June 30, 2020


    Employers can plan ahead and determine how they will consider records that applicants incurred while attending protests.

    Arrested While Protesting

    2020 is a year of massive civil unrest. Millions of people have taken to the streets following the death of George Floyd and others. Arrests occurred during situations that involved violence and looting ... and at peaceful protests people attended to add their voice to a growing movement.

    In many cases, individuals who were arrested during peaceful protests will likely have their charges dismissed. However, some may incur records that could be included on consumer reports. Employers will need to determine how to deal with this scenario.

    Non-Convictions Versus Pending Charges

    One thing for employers to consider is the difference between non-convictions and pending charges.

    A non-conviction occurs when a person is arrested and charged but their case is later dismissed or the individual is found not guilty. There could be various reasons for such an outcome, including a lack of sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction, the District Attorney concluding a case was not worth pursing or an agreement being reached by all parties.

    Pending records occur when a person is arrested and the outcome has yet to be finalized. Until these cases go through the court system, there is no way to know if a defendant will be convicted of any crime.

    The Backgrounds Online Approach

    At Backgrounds Online, we do not report non-convictions. They won’t be included on any background check we compile. However, these records could be available through other sources including public records websites.

    Pending charges are included in background reports that are produced by our team. When this happens, we make it clear that no outcome was reached as of the date the report was completed. Our clients can request updates as they become available. It is important to note, however, that due to pandemic-related court closures, it could take a while for rulings to be made on many arrest cases.

    Considerations For Employers

    Employers can assess all reportable records when reviewing potential employees, contractors or volunteers. In the near future, hiring managers may consider applicants who have criminal records that occurred following arrests at public protests.

    Now might be a good time for employers to discuss their hiring/screening policies and how they will handle protest-related convictions. Numerous second chance laws ask employers to conduct assessments of potentially adverse records found within consumer reports. This includes gauging whether an offense is relevant to the position and if the applicant creates an undue risk to the business, staff or public.

    When reviewing or updating your policies, it is recommended to consult with legal counsel. They can help ensure these policies are compliant with current federal, state and local laws where you operate.

    Running Background Checks

    Backgrounds Online provides background check reports that help employers build strong teams and demonstrate due diligence. When you’re ready to screen candidates or employees, please contact us. We’ll help you customize comprehensive screening packages based on your specific needs.

    Our experienced, knowledgeable team continues to work remotely. We’re available to answer questions and assist you Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.

  • Build Strong Teams By Focusing On The Candidate Experience​

    June 23, 2020
    As your business navigates through the pandemic, enhance your candidate experience to build teams that will help you succeed.
    Backgrounds Online | June 23, 2020


    As your business navigates through the pandemic, enhance your candidate experience to build teams that will help you succeed.

    Simplify Your Process

    COVID-19 changed everything. Most businesses are likely to feel the effects of this pandemic for years to come. It is essential to have people who will help your organization survive and thrive. Simplifying your hiring process is an effective way to encourage qualified candidates to choose you.

    Develop a method for conducting remote interviews and follow-ups. Train your hiring managers thoroughly so they understand how this will work and conduct test interviews if possible. This can help your staff prepare for potential issues such as delays or glitches, practice reading physical cues over a screen and determine what paperwork to have available before a video chat begins.

    Potential hires may not be able to sign documents in person. Make sure everything that requires their signature can be completed electronically.

    Create a solid onboarding process that can be completed online. It should be user-friendly and all-encompassing. New employees should fully understand their goals and expectations so they can become productive as quickly as possible.

    Take advantage of a group chat service. Fresh hires won’t be able to stop by a co-workers desk to ask questions. Give them an easy way to reach out and obtain information they cannot request in person.

    Show A Long Term Commitment

    Once you’ve determined a candidate has the necessary skills and qualifications, you can make a conditional offer. Then it’s time to run comprehensive background checks to verify they meet any employment and educational requirements and that they don’t have disqualifying criminal records. Next you can take a positive step forward by implementing ongoing backgrounds screenings.

    Scheduling recurring criminal background checks shows you have a commitment to your staff. This lets each employee know that you want them to be a part of your organization for the long-term. It also demonstrates your commitment to their safety and well-being. Screening each person annually or periodically indicates you are emphasizing safety and longevity for the individuals who represent your brand.

    Communicate

    As the world continues to change, we are all trying to find the best ways to operate cleanly and professionally. It is more important than ever to maintain an open line of communication throughout the hiring and onboarding process.

    The applicants you consider may have been laid off or working in other industries. If so, they might be attempting to refocus their careers. This can be a period of uncertainty and people are likely to have questions as they build up their transferable skills.

    Creating a smooth hiring process, demonstrating an ongoing commitment and communicating effectively will encourage strong players to select you as they search for a stable job path.

    Running Background Checks

    When you are ready to run background checks, please contact us. Our team is highly trained and able to help you build background screening packages for any type of position. We’re here to answer questions and assist you Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.

  • North Carolina Is Considering An Expungement Bill​

    June 18, 2020
    A proposed N Carolina bill would allow the expungement of certain criminal records. It was approved by the House and will be considered by the Senate.
    Backgrounds Online | June 18, 2020


    A proposed N Carolina bill would allow the expungement of certain criminal records. It was approved by the House and will be considered by the Senate.

    The Second Chance Act

    Lawmakers in North Carolina are considering Senate Bill 562 (SB562), which is also known as the Second Chance Act. It would create expungement allowances for certain types of juvenile misdemeanor and felony convictions that occurred prior to December 1, 2019. SB562 would also empower adults to expunge applicable records.

    Provisions include:
    • A resident or District Attorney may request expunction for misdemeanor or Class H or I felony records if the offense was committed during the specified timeframe by an individual who was between 16 and 18 years old.
    • Requests cannot be made if the petitioner has an active sentence, is on probation or has not paid required restitution.
    • If a person was charged with a misdemeanor or felony, but the charges were later dismissed, then that person may petition the court to have those records expunged.
    • If a person was charged with multiple offenses that were dismissed, the person may petition to have each of those charges expunged.
    • Persons who were charged but not found guilty may ask for their arrest records to be expunged.

    The proposed bill offers other provisions for the potential expungement of criminal records. Read the complete Second Chance Act.

    Support For SB562

    SB562 received support on a bipartisan level. Representative Ted Davis Jr. said: "This is a jobs' bill because people have been previously completely excluded from jobs and other opportunities because of long-ago convictions and dismissed charges. So if this goes into effect, those individuals who can get their records expunged will have a chance to get gainfully employed."

    The bill was reviewed and approved by the North Carolina House of Representatives with a vote of 119-0. Next it will be heard in the Senate. Supporters estimate that SB562 could help around 800,000 residents who have criminal records.

    Why Records Are Expunged

    Millions of Americans are negatively affected by convictions from their past. These records are often for minor offenses that have since been de-criminalized. Having any criminal history can be a detriment to a person when they are looking for employment, housing or other necessities.

    By allowing Americans to expunge outdated or irrelevant convictions, people are given second chances to succeed and rejoin society. Once a record is expunged, it is no longer publicly available. It cannot be included in consumer reports, such as pre-employment background checks.

    Running Background Checks

    Employers rely on background checks to help them make informed decisions and create safe workplaces. A key component involves learning if otherwise qualified candidates have records of which they should be aware. Hiring someone with a serious criminal history could be a liability to any organization.

    Backgrounds Online provides comprehensive background reports that contain current, accurate data. When you’re ready to screen applicants, employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us for expert assistance. We can answer questions and help you build custom screening packages Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.

  • ​New State Laws Go Into Effect On July First​

    June 16, 2020
    Employers should be aware that multiple states will be implementing new employment laws on July 1, 2020.
    Backgrounds Online | June 16, 2020


    Employers should be aware that multiple states will be implementing new employment laws on July 1, 2020.

    Upcoming Laws

    Many proposed bills were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, on July 1 2020, several states are putting new employment laws into effect. Numerous others will be added throughout the year.

    Key topics include:
    • Marijuana related laws.
    • Differentiating between employees and contractors.
    • Anti-discrimination laws.
    • Paid sick leave.
    • Wage transparency.

    Backgrounds Online does not provide legal advice but we keep up with bills that affect the hiring process. Here are a few state laws you may need to review prior to July 1, 2020.

    Iowa: Ban the Box

    Waterloo, Iowa is implementing a new Ban the Box law. To learn more and find a link for the complete text of this bill, see our previous blog entry.

    Nevada: Decriminalization of Marijuana

    Assembly Bill 533 (AB533) “generally decriminalizes the purchase, possession and use of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia for persons who are 21 years of age or older.”

    This could affect organizations that have zero-tolerance drug policies. Because certain offenses are being decriminalized, older convictions may become eligible for expungement. If that happens, then those records would no longer be publicly available. Therefore, sealed or expunged convictions for older drug-related activities could not be considered by employers when making business-related decisions.

    Read AB533.

    Virginia: Decriminalization Of Marijuana

    Virginia is implementing several new laws that serve to decriminalize marijuana possession. Employers should know they cannot review older criminal records for offenses that are no longer deemed crimes.

    Virginia: Contractor Misclassification

    Virginia has specific classifications for employees and independent contractors. If a worker is intentionally misclassified as a contractor, then the updated Code of Virginia law empowers that person to attempt to collect damages, including salary and benefits, from their employer.

    Additional State Laws

    The laws referenced here are only a few of those that go into effect in 2020. Many begin on July 1, but new and updated bills will be implemented throughout the year. Employers are encouraged to consult with their legal counsel and review laws that will be enforced where they operate.

    After considering all relevant state, federal and local laws, organizations may need to update their hiring and screening policies. Revised policy documents should be shared with everyone who is involved in the hiring and onboarding process.

    Background Screening In 2020

    2020 is a year of great change throughout the United States. Businesses are finding new ways to operate as we go through a pandemic, social unrest and other serious issues. One thing that remains consistent is the need for comprehensive background screening services. Every employer relies on current, accurate background reports when making business decisions and striving to maintain safe workplaces.

    When you’re ready to run background checks for your organization, please contact us. Our team is highly experienced and can help you develop customized screening packages that are ideal for your industry and areas of operation. We continue to work remotely and are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.

  • Benefits Of Recurring Screenings In The Pandemic And Beyond

    June 09, 2020
    Employers can help maintain safe workplaces as they reopen and continue to do business by implementing recurring background screenings.
    Backgrounds Online | June 09, 2020


    Employers can help maintain safe workplaces as they reopen and continue to do business by implementing recurring background screenings.

    What Is A Recurring Screening?

    A recurring screening is a service that empowers organizations to run follow-up background checks on their enrolled employees. These reports can show an employer if someone on their staff incurs a new conviction of which they should be aware, is added to a sex offender registry or has other updates that might make them ineligible for employment.

    Employers can create custom background check packages for positions with differing responsibilities. For example, if an employee must have a particular license, their background screening package can include a license verification. To maintain fairness, human resources professionals are encouraged to run the same type of background check on everyone who has a similar job description.

    New background check investigations can occur annually or at any other preferred interval. Once they are scheduled, each employee will automatically be re-screened at the selected time. It’s also quick and easy to remove an individual who is no longer employed so they are not screened again.

    Benefit For Reopening Businesses

    As organizations reopen and bring back furloughed employees, they will likely run new background checks. Employers who have implemented recurring screenings can easily manage this process for their returning workers. By updating the “next screen date” for each person, a manager can help ensure background checks are completed before their staff comes back to work.

    When organizations utilize Criminal Monitoring Solutions, they can schedule screenings for everyone who has already undergone a pre-employment background check. All the information required to initiate a background screening, such as the employee’s name and date of birth, is available in advance. This save times and prevents the need for manual data entry, which allows employers to focus on reopening businesses that have been closed for weeks or months.

    A Perpetual Edge

    After a business is up-and-running again, re-screening employees regularly provides several advantages. By signing up for ongoing screenings, an organization:
    • Demonstrates continual due diligence.
    • Shows they have an abiding commitment to the safety of their customers and staff.
    • Can learn if a worker incurs something on their record that might warrant an adverse action, such as termination of employment.
    • Creates a fair and transparent workplace.
    • Gains a simple, expedient method for screening workers on pre-determined dates.

    Running Background Checks

    When you’re hiring new employees or bringing people back to work after a furlough, running comprehensive background checks is an essential part of the process. Recurring background checks are equally important. The team at Backgrounds Online can help you customize screening packages that are appropriate for any position in your industry. We can also help you setup and manage regular screenings for every member of your workforce.

    If you have questions or need assistance, please contact us. We are working remotely and available to help you via email, phone or live chat. We’re here to provide unparalleled service Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.

  • A Survey Shows Remote Employees Hope To Return To Work​

    June 02, 2020
    Glassdoor surveyed remote workers and people who have been furloughed. Their results showed nearly 75% of respondents are eager to return to the workplace.
    Backgrounds Online | June 02, 2020


    Glassdoor surveyed remote workers and people who have been furloughed. Their results showed nearly 75% of respondents are eager to return to the workplace.

    About The Survey

    Glassdoor is a recruiting company that provides job listings, company reviews, salary reports and related content. They recently partnered with The Harris Poll to survey workers from various industries who have been working remotely or temporarily furloughed. Survey-takers asked respondents if they are eager to return to the workplace.

    The survey was conducted between April 29 and May 1, 2020. More than 1,100 individuals were contacted. Many of the participants have been working from home for several weeks.

    Carina Cortez, the Chief People Officer at Glassdoor said: “There’s no one-size-fits-all model for employers preparing to re-open their offices. While workers are eager to return to the office, employers considering re-opening offices should clearly communicate that the workplace is going to look very different and keep employees informed on what that means for them. Now more than ever, employers must closely monitor local guidelines and listen to their employees to ensure they are meeting the needs of the people that fuel their business.”

    Key Results

    The survey found that around 72% of people who have been working remotely are eager to return to the workplace. Out of those surveyed:
    • 79% of male workers expressed an interest in returning.
    • 61% of female workers expressed an interest in returning.
    • About half of the people said they expect to return in some capacity during the summer of 2020.

    The survey also covered expectations regarding health and safety. Results showed:
    • 79% of the people expect employers to provide hand sanitizer.
    • 54% expect employers to require personnel to wear masks.
    • 45% expect work stations to be spaced out at least six feet apart.
    • 38% expect employers to check temperatures of each person who enters a workplace.

    Work In The Future

    During the survey, poll takers talked to people about the potential impact of COVID-19 in the future. Around 65% stated that they would be willing to work from home if that would be helpful.

    People were also asked about what they would look for in a new position. 60% said they would consider positions that offered remote work options.

    These results seem to indicate that while people are eager to return to their offices and a work-related sense of normalcy; many are also interested in the possibility of continuing to work from home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

    Backgrounds Online Remains Here For You

    The team at Backgrounds Online continues to work remotely and offer comprehensive background screening products and solutions. We also provide educational resources, such as this blog, to keep employers aware of background screening laws and best practices throughout the pandemic and beyond.

    If you need background checks for new or returning workers, please contact us. We’ll help you build custom packages for your specific needs and keep you aware of potential delays due to court and other closures. We’re available to assist you Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.

  • Santa Clara County Will Expunge Records During The Pandemic

    May 26, 2020
    Despite having limited resources due to the pandemic, the Santa Clara County court system will be expunging cannabis-related convictions.
    Backgrounds Online | May 26, 2020


    Despite having limited resources due to the pandemic, the Santa Clara County court system will be expunging cannabis-related convictions.

    About The Expungements

    An announcement from Santa Clara County, California stated the court system will expunge approximately 11,500 marijuana-related convictions. This involves sealing records for more than 9,000 residents. These individuals won’t need to make requests or have any involvement in the process. It will be handled exclusively by the county.

    This follows regulations mandated by the state of California such as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act. This Act, also known as Proposition 64, decriminalized the personal possession of marijuana for recreational use. Its passage meant that certain types of convictions were for deeds that are no longer deemed criminal offenses. Lawmakers have been working on plans to expunge those records.

    What Employers Should Know

    When a criminal record is expunged, it ceases to be publicly available. Hiring managers may not consider sealed convictions while making any type of employment or business decision.

    Every employer is encouraged to run criminal background checks before bringing on employees, volunteers or contractors. Organizations in California should be aware that counties such as Santa Clara are actively working to expunge eligible convictions. Once this task is complete, those records cannot be included on any consumer report.

    Second Chance Efforts During The Pandemic

    The Second Chance Movement has been growing throughout America. Expunging outdated, minor and irrelevant convictions is an important aspect. This has become more difficult due to court closures and the need for sheltering in place.

    However, efforts to help people obtain second chances continue during the pandemic. For many, this is essential. Millions of Americans are currently unemployed and will be looking for new jobs when they are able to do so. By expunging criminal records, people gain opportunities to be interviewed and considered for positions as businesses throughout the country start to reopen.

    Going Virtual

    Several states have been working to educate former convicts on how to expunge criminal records. A few communities developed door-to-door campaigns to deliver their message. Since that is no longer possible, some organizations are taking advantage of the internet to maintain their momentum.

    Virtual clinics are being held on Zoom and other platforms. These tools are utilized to deliver explanations on how to file expungement requests, allow people to check-in with parole officers and even offer online courses that satisfy community service requirements.

    There could be limitations. Concerns have been expressed that poor communities may not have access to attend these virtual courses. Language barriers might cause additional complications. However, until other resources are available again, online options will be used to reach as many people as possible.

    Background Screening Remains Essential

    As more people return to the workforce, employers continue to rely on background checks to protect their customers, staff and best interests. It is equally essential for hiring managers to ensure they only review current and reportable records.

    When you’re ready to run background checks, please contact us. We’ll work with your staff to build custom screening solutions that help you make informed decisions and build strong teams. We are currently available to assist you Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.

  • New York City Bans Marijuana Testing

    May 19, 2020
    Employers in New York City are prohibited from testing applicants for marijuana usage as of May 10, 2020.
    Backgrounds Online | May 19, 2020


    Employers in New York City are prohibited from testing applicants for marijuana usage as of May 10, 2020.

    A Ban On Marijuana Testing

    Beginning on May 10, 2020, employers in New York City may not screen job applicants for marijuana or THC. Organizations may still conduct drug tests on prospective employees as long as long as they do not include those substances. This ban was passed in April 2019 but delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Organizations that do not comply with this ban could face civil charges. Penalties can be as high as $25,000. When applicable, consequential and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees, can be added to that cost.

    Employers should also be aware of and compliant with any other relevant laws regarding marijuana usage and employee protections where they operate.

    Exceptions

    Certain positions are exempt from this ban. They include:
    • Police or Peace Officers.
    • Positions that require a commercial driver’s license or fall under Department of Transportation regulations.
    • Workers who will supervise children, medical patients or vulnerable populations.
    • Positions that require drug testing under federal or state regulations or grant conditions.
    • Positions that may affect the health and safety of other employees or the public.
    • Safety sensitive jobs, such as people who work at construction sites or operate heavy machinery.

    Jumaane Williams, a Public Advocate who sponsored the ban, opposes these exceptions. Williams said: “Creating more exemptions and loopholes to this law will unjustifiably deter qualified employees from obtaining gainful employment,” he wrote. “Maintaining the original intent of the legislation, the City should be pushing to reduce the stigma around marijuana and working to restore justice for the millions of black and brown communities who have been the victims of marijuana criminalization and discrimination.”

    Review Hiring Policies

    Employers in New York City may wish to update their hiring policies to ensure they are compliant with this ban. Before finalizing these updates, it may be worthwhile to have them reviewed and approved by legal counsel.

    Employment-related laws are passed frequently. Employers everywhere are encouraged to review their hiring and screening policies periodically to ensure they accommodate relevant laws. Backgrounds Online does not provide legal advice, but we do make efforts to keep up with bills that affect employers so we can provide educational resources like this blog.

    Screening Applicants And Employees

    When hiring new workers or reviewing the eligibility of existing employees, it is important for organizations to conduct all reasonable forms of due diligence. Running background checks is an important part of this process. These reports can include allowable drug tests, criminal records searches and position-focused components. They help employers make informed decisions and create safe workplaces while protecting employees, the public and their own best interests.

    If your organization is bringing on new staff members, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. Our experienced team can help you build compliant and effective background check packages for any position or industry. We are currently available to assist you Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.

  • Reopening And Rehiring: Considerations For Employers

    May 12, 2020
    A webinar hosted by members of the background screening industry focused on reopening American businesses and topics employers should consider.
    Backgrounds Online | May 12, 2020


    A webinar hosted by members of the background screening industry focused on reopening American businesses and topics employers should consider.

    Layoffs Vs Furloughs

    The webinar began by discussing the difference between layoffs and furloughs. It provided two simple definitions:
    • Layoffs are indefinite and often permanent breaks in employment.
    • Furloughs are temporary pauses in employment without pay, but with the expectation that employment will resume.

    Presenters noted that at this point in the pandemic, 26 million Americans are unemployed and another 18 million are furloughed.

    Phased Approach To Reopening

    Most states have implemented social distancing and “Shelter in Place” laws. As a result, many businesses were required to temporarily shut down or adjust the way they provide goods and services. Some states are relaxing those laws and permitting more organizations to resume operations. People throughout the country are preparing to return to work in the coming weeks.

    Each state has unique regulations for reopening. In most cases, there are defined phases for this process. Webinar presenters stressed that every employer must be well-prepared to handle their transition and help ensure it is fair, consistent and as safe as possible for everyone.

    Before Rehiring

    The webinar hosts discussed subjects employers should examine before rehiring furloughed employees. A few included:

    Crime. While some locations have reported a decrease in criminal activities, perhaps due to people staying at home, other areas have seen spikes in violent and other serious crimes. Employers may wish to run comprehensive criminal background checks before bringing furloughed individuals back to the workplace. This can include county, state, national and federal criminal searches that cover the time an employee was out of work.

    State Laws. Several states have passed legislation related to the pandemic. Employers were urged to consult legal counsel to determine if any such laws affect them.

    Drug Usage. Some states have reported an increase in drug usage and related crimes. Employers may need to consult with counsel when developing plans for running drug tests on returning staff.

    Time. Employees may have been furloughed for a few days or several weeks. That amount of time could affect the scope of background checks conducted before people reenter the workplace. Employers should also be aware of and compliant with any industry regulations regarding background screening requirements.

    Screening For Current, Updated Duties

    Job descriptions will be changing for many people. As businesses reopen, employees might have an updated list of duties that include tasks such as loading goods into vehicles or visiting the homes of customers.

    The webinar suggested employers run background checks that meet due diligence requirements based on updated responsibilities for each position. This can involve comprehensive criminal checks to help determine if each person is deemed safe and reliable before they are allowed to have direct contact with consumers. If an employee is not properly screened and commits a crime while on-duty, their employer could face a negligent hiring lawsuit or other repercussions.

    Requesting Background Checks

    If your organization is reopening, then you likely have many new things to consider. This can be a good time to review your policies and amend them as necessary to accommodate changes we are all experiencing.

    When you’re ready to run background checks that help you make informed decisions and create safe workplaces, please contact us. Our team is available to assist you Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.

  • The EEOC Provided Guidance For Employers During The Pandemic​

    May 05, 2020
    To help employers as they navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, the EEOC issued a “What You Should Know” guidance.
    Backgrounds Online | May 05, 2020


    To help employers as they navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, the EEOC issued a “What You Should Know” guidance.

    Hiring

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a Question and Answer style guidance to help employers that are operating during the pandemic. Many organizations need additional people to help meet consumer demands. They are interviewing, running comprehensive background checks and onboarding qualified candidates.

    In the EEOC’s guidance, they covered topics related to hiring people who have symptoms of COVID-19. Employers were told that they could test applicants for the virus after extending a conditional job offer. It was also noted that this policy must be the same for all new hires to be fair and consistent.

    One topic covered whether or not an employer may delay the start date for an applicant who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19. The EEOC specified that any person who has symptoms should not be in the workplace. Start dates can be delayed as necessary. If a position must be filled immediately, organizations may withdraw an offer of employment.

    Accommodations

    Within the EEOC guidance, the need to accommodate individuals with hardships and disabilities was addressed. It said there may be “reasonable accommodations that could offer protection to an individual whose disability puts him at greater risk from COVID-19 and who therefore requests such actions to eliminate possible exposure.”

    A few of the questions they covered included:

    If all employees are telecommuting, should an employer postpone discussing requests to accommodate individuals with disabilities until they need to return to work? The answer was not necessarily. Employers were told they may give higher priority to requests for accommodations that are required for remote workers and that they should acquire all the information possible to help make hiring decisions.
    If an employee requests an accommodation for a medical condition, may the employer ask for additional details to determine if the condition is a disability? The answer was yes. The employer may request documentation or ask questions to help determine if the person has a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
    Do the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act apply to applicants or employees who are classified as "critical infrastructure workers" or "essential critical workers" by the CDC? The answer was yes, these Acts apply regardless of the worker’s designation.

    Returning To Work

    As states start to relax Shelter In Place orders, organizations will ask employees to return to their workplaces. The EEOC covered several topics regarding this process.

    First, they stated that employers may test employees for COVID-19, including asking health-related questions and taking temperatures. This must be done in accordance with CDC guidelines. It further mentioned that employers should treat all employees equally.

    Next they covered requests from employees regarding protective gear. Some employees may request accommodations due to disabilities or for religious reasons. The EEOC stated that employers should: “discuss the request and provide the modification or an alternative if feasible and not an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business under the ADA or Title VII.”

    Learn More

    The EEOC guidance covered various other topics. Read the full document.

    Backgrounds Online Is Here For You

    Our team is working remotely and ready to provide background checks that help you make informed decisions and create safe workplaces. We're also keeping up with current best practices and providing educational resources each week. Follow this blog to get updates and stay connected.

    When you’re ready to screen potential employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. We are currently available Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.