April 02, 2019A House Committee is pushing for legislation that would prohibit job applications for federal contractors from including questions about convictions.Backgrounds Online | April 02, 2019
A House Committee is pushing for legislation that would prohibit job applications for federal contractors from including questions about convictions.
About The Bill
H.R. 1076 was introduced by the House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman. It is a “Second Chance” bill that seeks to create a federal Ban the Box policy for contractors. If passed, the law would require questions about criminal convictions to be removed from federal job applications. Exceptions would be made for certain positions such as law enforcement, security personnel and individuals who would have access to classified data.
The goal is to create employment opportunities for people who have convictions. Currently, federal applications are allowed to ask if the person has a criminal record. Those that do are required to check a box. Any application that has this box checked is likely to be discarded immediately. This prevents the applicant from being interviewed or considered, regardless of their qualifications or what type of conviction they incurred.
Support For Banning The Box
Representative Elijah Cummings introduced H.R. 1076. It was co-sponsored by Senator Ron Johnson, who has been an ongoing proponent of Second Chance laws. He said his work in this field is the most “inspirational activity my staff and I have been involved in since I took office.” Johnson further stated that individuals who are able to obtain employment after being released from prison only have a 16% chance of returning. Those who are unable to find work have a 52% likelihood of recidivism.
According to an article in Government Executive, many members of House sub-committees are supportive of this bill. They believe that banning the box would help individuals rejoin society after satisfactorily serving out their sentence and probation. Some members, however, have expressed concerns. Representative Chip Roy suggested that delaying the release of a disclosure for criminal records could lead to additional discrimination against potential contractors.
H.R. 1076 is not the first federal Ban the Box bill. Similar laws were implemented in 2016 by the Obama administration. These laws, however, did not apply to private companies that conduct business with federal agencies.
The government has been a big proponent of second chance legislation. Numerous laws have been passed at state and city levels with the shared objective of creating employment opportunities for former convicts.
Takeaway For Employers
Any employer that works with federal agencies should be aware of H.R. 1076 and prepared to remove questions about convictions from their applications if the bill passes. All employers should be aware of the Ban the Box and Second Chance movements. We regularly see new laws passed that support these concepts. Even if you do not operate in an area that has an active Ban the Box law, best practice is prepare in advance by following these regulations now.
If you need to run background checks for your organization, please contact us. Our team keeps up with federal and state laws that cover employers throughout the country. We can help you create custom screening packages that are suited to any position in every industry. Reach us via phone, email or chat Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
March 26, 2019Police in Fort Worth Texas discovered that a sex offender was officiating sporting events at two school districts.Backgrounds Online | March 26, 2019
Police in Fort Worth Texas discovered that a sex offender was officiating sporting events at two school districts.
About The Officiate
James Earl Williams was working as an athletic official for Granbury and Glen Rose school districts in Texas. However, due to his criminal record he was not eligible to be in this position. Williams is a registered sexual offender who is also accused of abducting and raping a 13-year old girl. According to an affidavit, Williams was linked to that kidnapping via a DNA database. The prosecution believes they have a strong case against him.
In 2016, Williams was convicted of kidnapping an 11-year-old child. He served two years in a state jail and was required to register as a sexual offender once his sentence was completed. Prior to this, he had a kidnapping conviction that occurred in Hawaii.
Williams has serious restrictions regarding employment. Because of his past, he is prohibited from working with minors. He neglected to inform local police he’d been accepted as an officiate for youth sporting events.
How Could This Happen?
Williams was contracted through an agency that provides workers to Texas schools. The agent who approved Williams was Larry Pollard.
Pollard stated that most of the people he recommends are individuals he has known and trusted for years. However, he also reportedly affirmed that sometimes he must find outside help due to a lack of available personnel. That appears to have been what happened here. Williams was allegedly approved without a background screening to fill an open officiate position.
In a statement, Pollard said his services: “provide the officials for those schools and there’s a lot of them that wouldn’t be able to have basketball games if it wasn’t for us.” Pollard also allegedly admitted that background checks are not run on the individuals he recommends to junior and high schools.
Texas School Districts React
An article about this situation revealed that police learned Williams was officiating games from posts he made online. It also divulged officers had contacted the school district regarding Williams, but no specific details were provided.
Upon learning about Williams’ disturbing history, the districts are taking steps to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Jeff Meador, spokesperson for a Texas school district, said they are working with legal counsel to create new rules for background screening employees, contractors and volunteers.
Meador said the district is: “increasing procedures to require that all prospective athletic officials submit to a background check through the same system used for booster club members, PTO members, program mentors, and others volunteering on our campuses.”
The Superintendent of Glen Rose district mentioned he was unaware that officials who were brought to them had not been screened. He supports a plan for schools to run comprehensive background checks on all future officials and others who will do any type of work or volunteering on behalf of a school district.
Individuals who are currently officiating for these schools are also being asked to authorize a background check. If anyone refuses, they will no longer be allowed to officiate at district-sponsored events.
What Employers Should Know
The families of students everywhere expect individuals who work with and around young people have been screened to ensure they do not have violent or sexual convictions. Although Williams was not an employee, he did represent the district. This is disturbing news for residents who allow their children to participate in after-school activities.
Every employer is responsible for taking steps to ensure the people they hire are not a risk to other employees or the public. Allowing someone who has a serious conviction to represent your brand reveals you did not perform due diligence. This leads to a loss of trust from people who once relied on you to maintain a safe environment.
If you need to run background checks on people who will represent your brand, please contact us. Our experienced team will help customize screening packages that are ideal for every position. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
March 19, 2019The EEOC filed a lawsuit against a furniture company that allegedly refused to hire women for sales or warehouse positions.Backgrounds Online | March 19, 2019
The EEOC filed a lawsuit against a furniture company that allegedly refused to hire women for sales or warehouse positions.
About The Lawsuit
American Freight Furniture and Mattress, a retailer based in Ohio, is being sued for allegedly violating federal anti-discrimination laws. The company is accused of refusing to hire candidates due to their gender. According to a brief, the employer was only willing to hire men for sales or warehouse positions.
The lawsuit claims that corporate managers at the company prohibited their store managers from hiring women. Allegedly, the reasons provided included that female employees:
“Complain and make trouble.”
“Are a distraction to the male employees.”
“Don’t sell furniture as well as men.”
These claims were brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After reviewing details and attempting to resolve this issue, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against the employer.
The EEOC’s Involvement
Representatives from the EEOC stated that American Freight Furniture and Mattress violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit against the retailer called for financial relief for female applicants who were not hired due to the company’s allegedly unfair practices. The suit calls for back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages
The EEOC is a federal agency responsible for enforcing laws that prohibit workplace discrimination based on protected factors. These include (but are not limited to):
When the EEOC is called on to investigate, they first attempt to determine if any act of discrimination has occurred. If that is their conclusion, then they first make attempts to settle the matter. Should this not be possible, their next move is likely to file a lawsuit against the accused employer or organization.
Are Your Hiring Policies Fair?
We say this often: every employer should have written hiring and background screening policies. This document should include anti-discrimination rules that demonstrate the company is committed to maintaining a valid, fair and transparent process. Legal counsel should review the document to ensure it is complete and compliant with all relevant laws in each state where the company operates. The final version can then be distributed to every person who is involved in hiring.
These policies should be referenced and followed throughout the hiring cycle. Once that begins, the employer is also responsible for following laws that cover how and when background checks are run. The team at Backgrounds Online provides a variety of useful resources to help our clients with their background screening efforts. They include a monthly Newsletter, sample compliance documents that can be downloaded and customized, a section on our website about new and upcoming State Laws and this blog.
If you have questions about running background checks for your applicants, employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. Our experienced team is here to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
March 12, 2019The County Board of Legislators for West Chester, NY voted to pass a bill known as the Fair Chance to Work Law.Backgrounds Online | March 12, 2019
The County Board of Legislators for West Chester, NY voted to pass a bill known as the Fair Chance to Work Law.
About The Bill
Lawmakers in Westchester County, New York, proposed a Ban the Box (BtB) bill in 2018. After several meetings and reviews, it was passed on December 3. The description of this bill says it is a "LOCAL LAW amending Chapter 700 of the Laws of Westchester County in relation to prohibiting discrimination based on one's arrest record or criminal conviction."
This law affects employers with four or more employees. Covered employers are prohibited from asking job seekers about arrest records or criminal convictions during the early portion of the hiring process or on applications. They are also disallowed from discriminating against applicants for having any type of arrest record or conviction.
Background Checks For Westchester Employers
Employers in Westchester are still permitted and encouraged to run background checks on candidates who are being considered open positions. Background reports are used to help employers:
* Create a safe workplace.
* Confirm a candidate meets the position requirements and has the skills/experience needed to succeed.
* Perform due diligence by demonstrating they are checking for serious criminal convictions that indicate the candidate could be a risk.
Simply having a conviction does not make an applicant ineligible for hire. Westchester employers will use background checks to see if a candidate has a reportable criminal history. If records are returned they must then be reviewed and assessed individually. Employers are required use Article 23-A of the New York State Correction Law when deciding if a conviction might warrant denial of employment.
If an employer in Westchester takes an adverse action without following the guidelines established by the Fair Chance to Work Law, then the affected candidate may have the right to pursue compensatory damages. This includes (but is not limited to):
* Actual damages.
* Back pay.
* Front pay.
* Attorney fees and expenses.
* Additional compensation for mental anguish and emotional distress.
Employers everywhere must also follow the federally mandated adverse action process.
Exemptions To The Fair Chance to Work Law
In certain cases, Westchester employers are allowed to run background checks immediately or inquire about criminal records at the start of the hiring process. Exemptions exist for schools, law enforcement agencies and government offices.
All other employers in Westchester must adhere to the Ban the Box law.
About Ban The Box
Ban the Box laws are part of a growing Second Chance movement in the United States. The purpose is to help individuals who have outdated or minor convictions find employment. In the past, people who had any type of arrest or conviction were unlikely to receive any consideration from hiring managers.
While Ban the Box laws are not consistent from place to place, their goals are typically to:
* Increase the pool of qualified job seekers.
* Allow people who have served their time an opportunity to re-enter the workforce.
* Reduce the rate of recidivism.
To learn more about new and upcoming bills, follow this blog and check our State Laws section periodically.
Best Practice For Employers
Even if no Ban the Box or Second Chance laws are currently active where you operate, one could be passed in the coming years. Best practice is to remove questions about convictions from all job applications now. Employers should also document at what point during their hiring process a background check will be run. All hiring and background screening policies should be reviewed and approved by legal counsel before being implemented.
When running background checks, it is essential to only review reportable records that can legally be used to make informed business decisions. Backgrounds Online is an accredited Consumer Reporting Agency that provides FCRA-compliant reports. To learn how we can help you customize background checks for any type of position so you can build strong teams and reduce risk, please contact us. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
March 05, 2019Due to a lack of proper background screening policies, an individual with a conviction for sexual assault was approved as a park volunteer.Backgrounds Online | March 05, 2019
Due to a lack of proper background screening policies, an individual with a conviction for sexual assault was approved as a park volunteer.
Investigating The District’s Background Check Policies
The Inspector General for Chicago’s Park District conducted an investigation on the district’s background screening practices. This led to the realization that background checks had not been run on numerous volunteers. According to a report, nearly 1,000 individuals do volunteer work at these locations each year.
Based on the audit, approximately one-third of the volunteers who were approved did not go through a background screening. The results also showed that the District’s policies for vetting potential volunteers are outdated and severely under-resourced. It was discovered that a single individual was responsible for reviewing and considering all potential volunteers for around 600 parks.
The investigation also revealed the District’s procedures were not “reliable for basic organizational purposes such as tracking the number of volunteers in the parks or knowing which of them is actively volunteering.” These red flags that are cause for concern both to the District and park visitors.
A Volunteer With A Serious Conviction Was Approved
During the investigation, the Inspector General learned that several volunteers who had “potentially disqualifying criminal records” were approved because background checks were not run. These individuals would be seen as trusted authority figures by people who visit Chicago parks.
One person who was approved had a misdemeanor sexual assault on his record. This offense occurred in another state, but could have easily been discovered with a comprehensive criminal background check. Had this happened, the individual in question would have been immediately disqualified.
Thankfully, that person did not follow through with volunteering.
The District Takes Action
Following the startling results of the Inspector General’s audit, the Chicago Park District initiated discussions on how to improve their vetting process. There was extra urgency to this as it was also discovered that background checks are not run on volunteers for youth sports leagues that use state-owned facilities.
These discussions resulted in the recommendation of a “top to bottom” re-evaluation of the entire volunteer program, switching from a manual to an electronic record-keeping system and running comprehensive background checks on every volunteer.
To help reassure the public, the Chicago Park District issued the following statement:
"Protecting the children of Chicago is paramount, particularly when they are engaged in programs and activities in our parks. Following the Inspector General’s findings, the Chicago Park District is in the midst of a thorough review of its volunteer management procedures. We will continue to work with the Chicago Children’s Advocacy and the Inspector General to implement best practices with one goal of protecting our children and patrons."
The Urgency Of Consistent Background Screening Policies
It is important for every business and organization to have written background screening policies and follow them consistently. These policies can define when a background check is run, which criminal searches will be conducted and what will be done if a potentially serious conviction is found.
The Inspector General touched on this crucial subject. He stated: “There’s no process by which the deliberation over past criminal conduct is conducted, whether it’s long in the past or recent and insignificant. We don’t show our math on how we clear or reject candidates. There used to be a committee that was impaneled to consider these cases and now there no longer is.”
If you don’t have a written document that explains how you handle hiring and background screening, it’s advisable to create one. When you have something ready, ask your legal counsel to review and ensure it is compliant with relevant laws.
Does Your Business Or Organization Run Background Checks?Whether you hire employees, work with contractors or have volunteers, it is essential to run background checks. Not doing this puts your staff, customers and the public at risk. It can also have a negative impact on your brand.
When you’re ready to run background checks, please contact us. We can create custom screening packages that are ideal for your applicants, contractors and volunteers and schedule annual screening for your current employees. Our FCRA-certified team is highly trained and available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm.
February 26, 2019The City of Atlanta is removing questions about salary from their job applications. The goal is to help eliminate wage discrimination.Backgrounds Online | February 26, 2019
The City of Atlanta is removing questions about salary from their job applications. The goal is to help eliminate wage discrimination.
About Atlanta’s Decision
The City of Atlanta issued a press release to announce that they would remove questions about salary from their job applications. For years, people who applied for city positions were asked how much they made at their current or previous position. This information could then be used to help determine what compensation would be offered if the person was hired.
This practice can result in people getting paid different amounts despite doing similar work. Atlanta lawmakers are taking steps to help establish fair and consistent wages for all employees.
Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta, stated: “The City of Atlanta has taken a critical step toward the elimination of pay discrimination by removing salary history questions on employment applications. Too often, salary history can trap employees in an unfair earnings cycle based on history rather than their skill set. Now, employees can be compensated based on their qualifications, experience and merit. Closing the wage gap and prioritizing equal pay policies helps ensure Citywide economic parity and moves us closer to a more equitable One Atlanta.”
A Movement To Eliminate Wage Discrimination
According to the press release, women typically earn 80 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts. The wage gap is said to be even larger for minorities. To help resolve this problem and establish fair wages for all workers, there is a movement in the United States to prevent employers from making decisions about compensation based on what a person currently earns or has earned previously.
Some states and cities have passed bills that prohibit employers from asking job seekers about their salary history. While these laws vary from place to place, the basic concept is to prevent employers from offering compensation based on how much a candidate earned elsewhere. Instead, each employer is encouraged to provide consistent wage levels for employees who do the same type of work. There are some exceptions. Employers can typically adjust compensation for individuals who:
· Have seniority.
· Live in areas with a high cost of living.
· Earned various degrees or certifications.
· Meet other allowable exceptions.
Future Expectations For Employers
Over the next few years, additional wage discrimination laws are expected to be implemented throughout America. Employers should be aware of and compliant with laws that are in effect where they operate. If an employer asks a candidate about their salary history in a location where doing so is not allowed, they could be accused of using discriminatory practices. Employers can keep up with new and upcoming laws by following this blog and checking our State Laws section.
Backgrounds Online is committed to providing educational resources and helping our clients with their hiring and background screening efforts. If you need assistance or have questions about what we can do to enhance your process, please contact us. Our knowledgeable team is available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
February 19, 2019An article written by a screening expert suggests employers in India have endured many unfortunate incidents due to a lack of background checks.Backgrounds Online | February 19, 2019
An article written by a screening expert suggests employers in India have endured many unfortunate incidents due to a lack of background checks.
Incidents In India
Ajay Trehan, a background screening expert based in India, wrote an article that stated it is essential for every employer to have a comprehensive background screening policy. In this article, he said numerous employers cause themselves needless harm because they do not run comprehensive background checks on job seekers. He suggested this problem is especially prominent in the retail and startup sectors because those businesses are constantly looking for new employees.
Unfortunately, the author points out, many employers have been victimized by fraud and inappropriate behavior from their staff. This can occur when credentials are not checked, identities are not verified and criminal searches are not run. He also suggests that employers have been subjected to “the crisis of a lack of trust” based primarily on the contents of an individual’s resume. Failure to verify the contents of a resume can lead to businesses hiring people who are not properly qualified or eligible. This can further lead to existing employees and customers losing faith in your brand.
Background Screening Suggestions
Trehan recommends employers take advantage of useful background check components, including:
Identity Verification. This is also commonly known as a Social Security Number Trace. It is used to confirm an individual’s identity, which helps ensure that additional searches are conducted on the correct person.
Employment Verification. This is used to verify a person held a position they listed on their resume. It can also confirm a person’s work history, employment dates and more.
Education Verification. This is used to verify a person’s educational history. It can confirm schools attended, degrees earned and other relevant facts.
Criminal Searches. There are a variety of searches that can be conducted to show employers if someone has reportable convictions on a county, state, national or federal level.
Drug Screening. While this option is only used for certain types of employment, the author recommended it as a useful tool for employers in India and any business that needs to know if a candidate will test positive for illegal substances.
The author touched on potential concerns regarding the privacy of job seekers. He advised that this is a non-issue because background checks are only run after the subject provides authorization. Therefore, the person being screened is aware that information about them will be reviewed in connection to a job search.
Employers based in America have access to candidates from all over the world. It is important to note, however, that many countries have their own privacy laws which must be followed. By working with legal counsel to create compliant background screening policies, employers can expand the scope of their searches while taking steps to ensure each person’s privacy is fully protected.
Takeaway For Employers
Trehan closed his article by summing up that background checks are a critical tool for every HR division. He noted that a proper screening process saves employers time and money. Not screening applicants can lead to bad hires, which can be costly. Without background checks, an employer may spend time and money to onboard an individual - and later discover they were not qualified. Then they suffer a costly loss and must start the process again. The author also suggested that hiring a person who has a serious conviction could create an unnecessary risk for your brand, current staff and customers.
At Background Online, we consider background checks to be an essential part of every employer’s due diligence process. They can help you find the best people for your team and prevent some of the unfortunate incidents employers in India are experiencing. If you would like to learn more about how background checks can help your business, please contact us. Our experienced staff is available to help you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
February 12, 2019Around five million people are participating in a class action lawsuit that alleges the retailer violated federally mandated background check laws.Backgrounds Online | February 12, 2019
Around five million people are participating in a class action lawsuit that alleges the retailer violated federally mandated background check laws.
About The Case
Walmart was accused of allegedly violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) during their background screening process. A class action lawsuit stated the retailer “willfully included extraneous information” in their disclosure document.
The case is titled Pitre v. Walmart Stores, Inc. In January 2019, it was officially certified by a California court, which means it is allowed to proceed. Randy Pitre, lead plaintiff in this suit, suggested that Walmart “failed to provide adequate notice of the consumer report as well as failed to secure legal authorization to obtain it.”
In addition to Pitre, the court approved two other class representatives for this case.
Federal Law For Disclosures
According to allegations in the lawsuit, Walmart obtained consumer reports on job seekers without first receiving proper authorization. The retailer is accused of including extraneous content in their disclosure.
The FCRA stipulates that a disclosure must be a standalone document that is clear, concise and does not contain any additional language. This document may not have confusing or verbose text. Pitre stated that Walmart’s disclosure contains both confusing language and content that is prohibited by federal law.
Along with a disclosure, the FCRA stipulates that candidates must receive a standalone authorization form and a document known as A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This document notifies individuals of their rights regarding how consumer reports can be obtained and utilized. The suit against Walmart also alleges that the retailer did not provide this and therefore failed to properly inform applicants of rights that are granted by federal law.
What Employers Should Know
The lawsuit against Walmart is not the only one that has recently been filed against an employer for allegedly failing to follow federal background screening laws. Numerous high-profile corporations have been sued for similar alleged violations. Situations like these, however, can easily be avoided.
Every employer should know that the FCRA stipulates consumers must receive and agree to a standalone disclosure. This document informs the consumer that an employer wishes to run a background check on them. Before a background screening can begin, the consumer must also receive a standalone authorization and provide their consent. Both documents must not contain any unnecessary or ambiguous language. This includes waivers, state laws or even administrative statements.
By ensuring that every candidate you are considering for employment receives FCRA compliant documents, you can protect your business from class action lawsuits like the one against Walmart. To be even safer, best policy is to interview candidates, determine which person or people you are considering and only then initiate a background screening. Some states also require employers to extend a conditional job offer before running a background check. Learn more about state employment laws that may affect you.
Backgrounds Online provides a packet that contains a sample disclosure, authorization and the required Summary of Rights document. We also offer a service that empowers our clients to have candidates submit the information we need to run a background check directly to us. By taking advantage of this service, employers can save time, prevent data entry errors and rest assured that the people they screen see and authorize all required relevant compliance documents.
If you have questions about background screening or how we can help improve your process, please contact us today. Our highly trained and educated team is available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
February 05, 2019A UK man was employed as a pilot based on his resume. When it was further reviewed, the airline realized he should not have been hired.Backgrounds Online | February 05, 2019
A UK man was employed as a pilot based on his resume. When it was further reviewed, the airline realized he should not have been hired.
The Full Story
Nigel Francis-McGann applied for a job at West Atlantic in the UK. His resume said he was currently working as a pilot and included contact information for a professional reference. Based on this, McGann was offered the position. He accepted.
After he was hired, an item on McGann’s resume raised a red flag. The reference he provided was for Desilijic Tiur. It is unknown whether or not anyone attempted to contact this reference, but if so they would not have had any luck. It was eventually revealed that Desilijic Tiur is actually the name of a character from Star Wars … better known as Jabba The Hut.
McGann was offered and accepted an opportunity to resign. Afterwards, he sued the airline for back pay.
Incomplete Background Screening Practices
When the airline was considering McGann as a candidate, he did not go through a proper screening process. A comprehensive background check can include position focused searches that help an employer determine if a candidate is properly qualified. If a thorough screening was conducted, the airline would have been able to find out if McGann had the proper license or actually worked as a pilot for another airline.
A reference check could have been included during the background investigation. Even if the person who handled the verification remained unaware that the name they were given belonged to a fictional character, the fact that they were unable to make contact would have been explained to the employer.
How Verifications Help
Verifications can do more than confirm whether or not a reference is legitimate. They can also be used to:
· Acquire professional opinions about a person’s character, work ethic and related details from people who know and likely worked with the candidate.
· Confirm whether or not an applicant has a required license or credential.
· Review the individual’s employment history.
· Validate a person’s educational achievements including what school they attended, when/if they graduated, degrees earned and other relevant facts.
Protecting Your Business And Customers
It’s been proven again and again: people are not always honest on their resumes. Some embellish a little. Others completely misrepresent themselves - such as wrongfully claiming to have held a position. This is often done to help a person get a job for which they are not qualified or eligible.
Running background checks on job seekers helps employers learn what is and is not accurate on a resume. Businesses can also use these reports to help protect themselves, their staff and customers. A criminal background check informs the recipient if a candidate has a violent or otherwise serious conviction.
If your business or organization needs background checks to verify someone is qualified for a position, find out if someone has a reportable conviction and get the facts your need to make informed business decisions, please contact us. Our experienced team is here Monday – Friday, 5am to 6pm to answer questions and assist you with your background screening process.
January 29, 2019Two attempts to pass similar bills failed. This bill, which is intended to help people with a criminal history to be seen by employers, is expected to be approved.Backgrounds Online | January 29, 2019
Two attempts to pass similar bills failed. This bill, which is intended to help people with a criminal history to be seen by employers, is expected to be approved.
About The Proposed Bill
According to an article in a Colorado-based publication, nearly 1.8 million residents of the Centennial state have criminal records. For many of them, finding employment might be difficult. One reason for this could be that some employers place questions about criminal records on job applications. If an applicant has ever been convicted, they are asked to check a box.
People who check this box are unlikely to receive consideration. Employers tend to discard these applications without reviewing factors such as whether or not the person is qualified, if the conviction was for something minor or how long ago the offense occurred.
To help residents who have minor and/or outdated criminal records, the proposed bill seeks to prohibit Colorado employers from asking questions about arrests or convictions on applications. A member of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy who supports this bill wrote a memo that said many people who have a record “later deal with perpetual unemployment and income instability for themselves and their families.”
The proposed bill is intended to help people who have a criminal history be seen by employers. This can be beneficial on both sides. Job seekers gain more opportunities to find work. Employers enjoy a larger pool of applicants. Proponents of Ban the Box laws believe they are good for the community because they help lower crime rates and recidivism.
Additional Requirements For Colorado Employers
This bill also seeks to disallow employers from writing job descriptions that suggest people with criminal histories may not apply. Exceptions would be made for positions in which applicants are automatically disqualified for any type of conviction. Such provisions are common for law enforcement and positions that deal with vulnerable populations including children or the elderly. Otherwise, this would stand for most job openings in the private and public sectors.
While there are multiple Ban the Box laws throughout the county, they vary in scope and detail. The Colorado bill may create additional requirements that employers must follow to remain compliant. Our team will watch the progression of this bill. If it passes, you can learn all the relevant details in our State Law section.
Previous Ban The Box Attempts
The Colorado legislature presented similar bills in 2016 and 2017. Both were dismissed by the Senate. Due to a notable number of Senate turnovers during the 2018 elections, however, officials in Colorado believe the third attempt will likely be successful.
If the bill passes, Colorado would join multiple states that have passed Ban the Box laws. It was filed by Representatives Leslie Herod and Jovan Melton. Herod said this of their efforts: “All we’re trying to do is ensure that people aren’t automatically screened out for a mistake they made in their past and that they’ve paid their time for. This will allow them to sit next to an employer one-on-one and say, ‘Here’s what I did in my past, here’s who I am now and here’s how I plan to move forward.’ Ban the Box will give them that opportunity.”
Takeaway For Employers
Ban the Box and other “Second Chance” laws are becoming increasingly common throughout the United States. Even if no law is active where you operate, best practice is to be ahead of the curve and follow some of the commonly issued regulations. These include not asking about criminal records on applications, always running criminal background checks on candidates you are considering, and evaluating convictions individually to determine if they are serious and relevant enough to disqualify the person.
Ban the Box laws encourage employers to run comprehensive background checks. They typically require employers to do this following an interview or conditional job offer. When you have applicants you need to screen, please contact us. Our experienced team can help you build background check packages that are perfectly customized for every position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm.
January 22, 2019Every employee at Shelby County Schools in Tennessee will be asked to approve a background screening to continue their employment.Backgrounds Online | January 15, 2019
Every employee at Shelby County Schools in Tennessee will be asked to approve a background screening to continue their employment.
The New Policy For SCS
The office of General Counsel for Shelby County Schools (SCS) sent an email to all active employees. It began by explaining that several new laws were passed during the 2018 legislative session. Among them was a bill that requires teachers and other school employees to have background checks run on them every five years.
Public reaction to this law has been favorable. It is intended to protect children throughout Shelby County by helping to ensure that no one with a serious criminal record is allowed to work with students. Prior to 2000, potential employees were not required to pass a background check.
A district official released a statement about the new law. "Shelby County Schools is committed to abiding to all laws and policies to ensure the safety of our students and employees. For this reason, we notified all SCS employees about the recently enacted Tennessee Code Annotated 49-5-413(a) requiring all employees with proximity to children be fingerprinted at least every five years. As the process begins, we will follow all appropriate laws and policies and proceed as necessary noting that information about an employee's criminal records will be kept confidential and used only for the purpose for which it was intended."
TN State Law Requires Background Checks
Ongoing background screenings for school employees are mandated by state law. Tennessee’s Public Chapter 1006 says that in addition to background checks being run when a person is applying for work at SCS, new criminal checks must be run every five years. This is for any employee who works “in close proximity to students” including teachers, custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
This law was put into effect on July 1, 2018. It requires every local board of education and governing body of a charter school to adopt the new background screening policy for all employees, contract workers and volunteers. Background screening will begin in January 2019.
Background Checks At Other Schools
Tennessee is not the only location that is implementing laws for running ongoing background checks on school employees. Among the most notable instances is found in Chicago. After an investigation revealed more than 500 cases of juvenile abuse over a ten-year period, the Chicago Public School District ran new background checks on everyone who worked for them. When this process was completed, the district terminated relationships with hundreds of employees, volunteers and vendors.
More schools are likely to follow and start ongoing background screenings for all workers. Doing so is a simple but effective way to help create a safe workplace, protect students and show the community that school districts are performing due diligence to create a maintain a secure environment.
Every employer could learn a valuable lesson from SCS. Most businesses and organizations run background checks before hiring or contracting with someone, but not all do ongoing checks to follow up. Running annual criminal checks empowers an employer to see if someone on their staff incurs a violent, sexual or otherwise serious conviction. It is an efficient way to demonstrate a continuous commitment to safety.
If you are not currently running ongoing criminal monitoring on the people who represent your brand, it’s easy to get started. Backgrounds Online provides this service with searches on the National Criminal Database, Sex Offender Registry and Terrorist Watch List. Learn more about criminal monitoring or contact us for assistance.
January 15, 2019The delivery company was sued for religious discrimination. They agreed to settle the case with a large payout.Backgrounds Online | January 15, 2019
The delivery company was sued for religious discrimination. They agreed to settle the case with a large payout.
About The Lawsuit
United Parcel Service (UPS) was accused of utilizing practices that discriminate against some religious groups. They allegedly have policies about personal appearance that “exclude Muslims, Sikhs, Rastafarians and other religious groups from equal participation and advancement in the workforce.”
The case was brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Elizabeth Fox-Solomon took the lead and stated that UPS does not allow male supervisors or drivers to have beards or grow their hair past the collar. Such policies do not accommodate certain religious practices and were therefore deemed discriminatory.
According to the EEOC, these practices have been active since 2005. As a result, UPS has allegedly refused to hire or promote numerous individuals who had long hair or beards due to their religious beliefs. The EEOC further alleged that the only positions available to these individuals included non-supervisory jobs that do not have any customer contact.
A lawsuit against UPS was initially filed in July 2015. It claimed that the delivery company violated the Civil Rights Act which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs. The only exception to that law is if doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer. This was not considered to be the case for UPS.
An attorney for UPS said: "For far too long, applicants and employees at UPS have been forced to choose between violating their religious beliefs and advancing their careers at UPS.” The EEOC hoped their suit would cause the delivery company to change their allegedly discriminatory policies.
After a three-year case, UPS agreed to a $4.9 million settlement. Participants in the class action suit include former applicants and employees who were allegedly discriminated against while on the job or attempting to procure employment.
UPS also agreed to accommodate applicants and employees based on their religious beliefs and practices. They will provide training for individuals who seek supervisory positions or jobs that involve contact with the public. Going forward, UPS will also periodically report to the EEOC about their ongoing efforts. The EEOC’s Fox-Solomon stated that she appreciates the steps UPS is taking to update and revise their internal policies.
Takeaway For Employers
It is a violation of federal law to discriminate against applicants or employees based on their religion or other protected factors. Every employer is encouraged to review their hiring and employment policies with legal counsel to help ensure they are not discriminatory in any way. Having policies that discriminate against people because of their religion, gender, ethnicity and other factors could lead to costly lawsuits and negative publicity.
An important step towards ensuring your hiring policies are fair is to have consistent background screening practices for every candidate or employee. If you need help creating background check packages that are fair, transparent and comprehensive enough to help you make informed hiring decisions, please contact us. Our highly trained team is available to answer questions and assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.