August 6, 2019Multiple states are cracking down on employers who violate Ban the Box and related laws.Backgrounds Online | August 06, 2019
Multiple states are cracking down on employers who violate Ban the Box and related laws.
About Second Chance Laws
Millions of Americans have criminal records. While some are serious enough to make a person ineligible for many jobs, most convictions are minor. They are not cause to deny employment. However, until recently, people who had any type of criminal record often experienced great difficulty while attempting to re-enter the workforce.
Second Chance Laws are created to help people with minor or outdated criminal records. Most prohibit employers from asking questions about arrests and convictions on job applications. People who are required to indicate they have a record at the beginning of a hiring process are unlikely to receive consideration, regardless of whether the conviction has any relevancy to the position.
Every employer is still encouraged to run comprehensive background checks when hiring or making related business decisions. These reports show if a candidate has the necessary employment history, education and any mandatory licenses or credentials. They also show if the person has a serious conviction that indicates they may pose a risk to a business, customers or the public.
Numerous states, cities and counties have implemented Ban the Box and other Second Chance laws. Employers are expected to follow them … but what happens if they do not? More locations are cracking down on organizations that violate these laws. New York and Massachusetts provide strong examples of this.
Employers In New York
New York has a law called The Fair Chance Act. It is a Ban the Box style law that prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer is extended. NY employers are required to consider each conviction individually to assess whether or not it makes the applicant ineligible for hire.
If an employer determines that a job seeker’s criminal history warrants revoking of a conditional offer, they must document why. The Empire State has some of the strictest Second Chance laws on the books. Employers who are found to violate those laws may be subjected to hefty penalties.
In one notable case, a New York employer refused to re-hire a vocational counselor due to a felony from the 1990’s. The former employee sued and was granted $196,624. While this is the largest amount levied against an employer in New York, many others have faced similar situations and been fined for violating state law.
Employers In Massachusetts
Massachusetts implemented a Ban the Box bill known as An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform in 2010. It creates limits regarding when employers may ask about criminal records and what type of records they may consider. In 2019, the state government is actively pursuing organizations that are found to violate this law.
The state’s Attorney General (AG) is said to have sent warning letters to various companies about potential violations. At least two employers have been required to pay $5,000 in fines for failure to adhere to Massachusetts’ Second Chance laws. The AG commented on these efforts: “Too many people who have paid their debt to society still face barriers to even landing an interview. These actions are an effort to give all job applicants a fair chance.”
Prepare For Compliance
Are Second Chance Laws active where you operate? If so, do you have policies in place to ensure compliance? Every employer should have written hiring and background screening policies. When applicable, they should include Second Chance laws. National employers may have various laws to contend with based on the locations where they operate.
Best practice is to prepare for compliance by removing questions about criminal histories from all job applications and to consider relevant factors about convictions found in background checks. This includes how long ago an offense occurred, if it impacts the person’s ability to handle a position and whether or not the individual poses a threat to the company or public. While not every criminal record is enough to warrant denial of employment, employers must perform due diligence and avoid hiring individuals who are a known risk.
If you’re ready to run background checks that help you make informed decisions and create a safe workplace, please contact us. Our experienced team makes efforts to keep up with relevant laws throughout the country and can help you build background screening packages that are ideal for any position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
July 30, 2019The airline was hit with a class action suit that consisted of around 44,100 members.Backgrounds Online | July 30, 2019
The airline was hit with a class-action suit that consisted of around 44,100 members.
About The Lawsuit
A class-action lawsuit against Delta Air Lines alleged the employer did not provide compliant disclosure and authorization documents to job seekers. These documents inform the recipient that an employer wishes to run a background check on them and request written authorization. They are mandated by a federal law called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
This case is known as Schofield v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. According to the lawsuit, the forms provided by Delta were unclear and contained unnecessary information. These accusations represent alleged violations of FCRA laws.
FCRA Compliant Disclosures
The FCRA stipulates that disclosure and authorization documents must be clear and unambiguous. They may not contain any additional content or confusing language. These documents must be provided to and be signed by job seekers or employees before a background check can be run.
Many employers add liability waivers, job requirements and other information on these forms. Having any unclear or additional text could lead to a class action suit like the one filed against Delta. We see numerous lawsuits because of this each year.
If a background check will include information about the subject’s reputation, characteristics or related factors, then an investigative consumer report is required. In this case, a different type of disclosure is used. That form explains what type of information may be included in the background check report. It’s also important to note that California has specific requirements for disclosures.
Delta Files For A Summary Judgment
The case against Delta was heard at the San Francisco Superior Court. Afterwards, the employer requested a summary judgment on their behalf. Their reasoning was the allegations against them should be cleared due to a statute of limitations. This case began more than two years after the background screening of these plaintiffs occurred.
Delta’s motion was not opposed and the airline reached a settlement. The total amount the airline will pay is $2.3 million. About 25 - 33% will go to the plaintiff’s counsel and the rest will be divided between the 44,100 or so class action members.
What Employers Should Know
Every employer should be aware of federal regulations regarding the background screening process. Before running a background check, an employer must provide the applicant, employee, volunteer or contractor with standalone disclosure and authorization documents. As many employers have learned the hard way, these documents must be clear and not contain any content other than what is needed to disclose the intent to run a background check and request consent.
Backgrounds Online provides sample disclosure and authorization documents for our clients. They are concise and do not include any unnecessary language. Login to your account to download them and customize as needed.
When you are ready to run compliant background checks for your organization, please contact us. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
July 23, 2019To help protect students, New York introduced a bill that requires fingerprinting and background checks for every school employee.Backgrounds Online | July 23, 2019
To help protect students, New York introduced a bill that requires fingerprinting and background checks for every school employee.
About The Bill
The New York Senate approved Bill 3335 (SB3335). It stipulates that all non-public and private elementary and secondary schools must require job seekers to authorize/pass a fingerprinting and criminal background check before they can be hired.
The State Commissioner is creating a form for educational facilities to use during the hiring process. It asks the candidate to provide consent for a background screening and explains how any information returned could be used. If this bill is signed by the Governor, it would update hiring policies for every potential school employee in New York.
According to the bill, an employee is defined as: “any prospective employee of a nonpublic or private elementary or secondary school or employee of a contracted service provider or worker placed within such school under a public assistance employment program for the provision of services to such school, its students or employees, directly or through contract, whereby such services performed by such person involve direct student contact.”
The goal of this bill is to create stronger protections for students. One news source reported that the idea for the bill came from a terrifying situation in New Orleans. Allegedly, a teacher with two indecent exposure convictions was hired to work with children. No background check was run on him, so the school remained unaware of the individual’s criminal history and status as a registered sexual offender.
SB3335 seeks to ensure that nothing like this can occur in New York. Read the text of this bill.
Background Checks Are A Security Tool
Employers run background checks for many reasons. One of the most important is to watch for serious criminal records. Hiring someone who has violent or sexual convictions cwould unnecessarily put your customers, employees and the public at risk.
If your organization hired someone who had a serious conviction, like the teacher in New Orleans, it would lead to questions about your safety protocols. Running background checks shows you are performing due diligence and taking steps to avoid hiring risky candidates.
Every background check can be customized to better suit the position for which you are hiring. For example: if a potential employee would work with children or another vulnerable population, then it is essential to run a comprehensive suite of criminal checks. This includes county, state and national searches as well as searches on sex offender registries.
When You Are Hiring
Before you bring on a new employee, contractor or volunteer, have them authorize a background screening. This protects you, your brand, your employees and the people you serve. Hiring someone with a serious criminal history could lead to a loss of trust in your organization as well as potential legal repercussions.
When you ready to hire, please contact us. Our team is well-trained at creating background check packages for every type of position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
July 16, 2019The state joins many others that are creating laws to help eliminate wage gaps based on gender, race and other protected factors.Backgrounds Online | July 16, 2019
The state joins many others that are creating laws to help eliminate wage gaps based on gender, race and other protected factors.
About The Bill
Representative Adline Clarke sponsored Alabama House Bill 225 (HB225). She was inspired to do this after reading a book titled “Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond.”
The bill prohibits employers from “paying any of its employees at wage rates less than those paid to employees of another sex or race for substantially similar work when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, as specified.”
Governor Kay Ivey signed HB225 on June 11, 2019. It goes into effect August 1, 2019. Read the bill.
Employers have the right to offer varying wages for similar work if they can demonstrate the difference is based on any of these factors:
• A seniority system.
• A valid merit system.
• A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.
• A bona fide factor other than sex or race, such as education, training or experience.
These exceptions will not be applicable if an employee can demonstrate that an alternative business practice exists which would serve the same purpose without producing the wage differential.
HB225 requires Alabama employers to:
• Pay comparable rates for comparable work.
• Maintain records that include wages, job classifications and other terms of employment for at least three years.
• Refrain from terminating or otherwise retaliating against an employee who files charges on the employer based on alleged wage discrimination.
• Allow employees to discuss their compensation with co-workers and encourage others to exercise their rights under HB225.
If an employer violates any of the laws established by HB225, the person who was discriminated against may file a civil action. This could include asking the employer for “reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer, including interest thereon, as well as appropriate equitable relief.”
Any employer that is found guilty of a violation is liable to the employee in the amount of the “wages, and interest thereon, of which the employee is deprived by reason of the violation, and an additional equal amount as liquidated damages.”
Takeaway For Employers
Anti-wage discrimination bills are becoming increasingly common in the United States. Employers in Alabama should be aware of HB225 and prepared for compliance before it goes into effect. Every employer should be aware that even if a similar bill does not currently exist where they operate, one could be introduced soon.
Best practice is to not ask applicants about their salary history and to pay comparable wages for comparable work (unless a valid exemption exists, such as the ones listed above).
When you’re ready to run background checks on applicants, volunteers, employees or contractors, please contact us. Our team is highly experienced at building compliant background screening packages for every industry. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
July 09, 2019State lawmakers want tougher background screening policies to prevent predators from obtaining employment at MO schools.Backgrounds Online | July 09, 2019
State lawmakers want tougher background screening policies to prevent predators from obtaining employment at MO schools.
The School Turnaround Act
Missouri introduced House Bill 604 (HB604), which is dedicated to protecting students from predators. This came shortly after several horrifying instances of sexual abuse at schools within the state. Sadly, this also coincides with statistics that have been collected throughout the country.
A national organization called Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation (SESAME) is dedicated to preventing abuse by educators and other school employees. They conducted research and determined that 7% of children in grades Eight through Eleven have reported some form of sexual contact with an adult who works at a school. SESAME further learned that when additional crimes are included, such as showing pornography to children, that figure jumps to 10%.
HB604 is known as the School Turnaround Act. It includes a few key changes to help protect students in the Show-Me State.
Thorough Screening For Employees From Other MO Schools
In the past, workers in Missouri could easily move from one school to the next. When someone went to a new location, that school was not required to thoroughly research the candidate’s history. To some, this process was referred to as “passing the trash.”
Allegedly, this system allowed school employees who had charges of sexual misconduct to get a fresh start at new facilities. Thanks to HB604, any substantiated allegation will be readily available to every school in the state. This will help schools weed out people who may exhibit predatory or abusive behavior towards students.
All Volunteers Must Be Screened
Another key component of HB604 is to require background checks for all volunteers. Anyone who wants to volunteer at a MO school will first be required to authorize and pass a background check. The bill provides a list of potential volunteer positions, including but not limited to persons who would:
· Regularly assist in the office or library.
· Mentor or tutor students.
· Coach or supervise a school-sponsored activity.
· Chaperone students on an overnight trip.
Sexual Abuse Training
An equally important part of the School Turnaround Act is to educate school board members on how to spot signs of sexual abuse. This requires training that involves:
· Noting signs of potentially abusive child/adult relationships.
· Establishing trust so young people feel comfortable reporting abuse.
· Going through annual refresher courses.
HB604 was presented to the Governor and awaits his signature.Read the full text.
In the 2020/21 school year, every Missouri district will also be required to offer "Trauma-informed, developmentally-appropriate sexual abuse training to students in all grades not lower than sixth grade." This includes giving students the tools and knowledge they need to recognize abuse, information on how to report abusive actions and resources for students who have been abused.
The Importance Of Screening
Every organization that has employees, volunteers or contractors should always run criminal background checks before allowing anyone to represent them. This is especially true for people who will work with vulnerable populations such as young people. Background checks can reveal if a candidate has violent, sexual or other serious offenses.
When you’re ready to run background checks, please contact us. Our team is highly experienced at producing tailored background screening packages for any position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
July 02, 2019Are you complying with Second Chance laws where you operate? If not, your organization could be subjected to fines.Backgrounds Online | July 02, 2019
Are you complying with Second Chance laws where you operate? If not, your organization could be subjected to fines.
Ban The Box Laws In The U.S.
The Second Chance Movement has led to a significant number of Ban the Box laws being implemented throughout the United States. While these laws are not consistent, the purpose is always to help Americans who have old or minor criminal records find employment. That basic necessity was not always easy.
In the past, many employers asked applicants to check a box if they’d ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. Most employers would immediately discard applications if that box was checked. They did not learn what the conviction was for, how long ago it occurred or other relevant factors.
To help Americans who are not security risks and are in need of employment opportunities, the Ban the Box movement calls for the removal of questions about arrests and convictions from job applications. Numerous states, cities, counties and employers have adopted this policy. Employers that operate in locations where a Ban the Box law is active are asked to hold off on inquiring about criminal records until after they conduct an interview or extend a conditional offer.
Doing this gives job seekers an opportunity to show their qualifications and eligibility. It also gives employers a larger pool of candidates and helps reduce the rate of recidivism. People who are unable to obtain employment due to something that happened long ago may become desperate and feel they have no choice but to commit crimes just to get by.
D.C. Employers Fined For Ban The Box Violations
Washington D.C. passed a Ban the Box law in 2014. Since then, more than 1,800 charges have been filed against employers for alleged violations. During that time, employers have been fined nearly $500,000.
Most of the charges were claims that employers continued to ask questions about criminal records on their job applications. Some alleged that employers asked about convictions during an interview.
Every claim was investigated. A report was compiled about these complaints and their outcomes. While specifics are confidential, it showed that charges were made against everything from small businesses to multinational organizations. If a Ban the Box charge is not settled, a DC employer can be fined up to $5,000.
Mónica Palacio, the Director for the Office of Human Rights spoke about why this report was made. She said: “We wanted to show that the law had been quite effective in getting hundreds of employers who were out of compliance into compliance. We wanted to set the record straight.”
What Employers Should Know
Ban the Box and other Second Chance bills have been passed all over the U.S. Violating these laws could result in complaints and fines. Every employer should maintain written hiring and background screening policies that include details about complying with relevant laws. Employers that operate in multiple locations should be aware that they may be regulated by more than one Ban the Box law. Consult your legal counsel for advice.
Backgrounds Online provides a variety of educational resources to help keep you aware of background screening laws and best practices. When you’re ready to run background checks, we can help you create a fair and transparent process for everyone. Contact us for expert assistance. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
June 25, 2019Colorado implemented a bill that intends to help residents with criminal records find new employment opportunities.Backgrounds Online | June 25, 2019
Colorado implemented a bill that intends to help residents with criminal records find new employment opportunities.
About The Bill
In 2019, Colorado lawmakers proposed a statewide “Ban the Box” bill. Their goal was to prohibit employers from asking questions about convictions on job applications. If an applicant has any type of conviction in their past, they are asked to check a box.
In most cases, anyone who checks this box is immediately disqualified. They are not given an opportunity to discuss their qualifications or show that a criminal record is minor or outdated.
Representative Leslie Herod supported this bill and feels it will help people who are simply looking for a chance to rejoin society. She noted employers will still be allowed and encouraged to run background checks on candidates they are considering. This empowers the employer to see if an individual has serious convictions or other adverse information that might make them ineligible for hire.
What The Bill Stipulates
Governor Jared Polis signed the bill into law in May, 2019. It prohibits CO employers from:
· Including content on job postings that declares a person with any type of criminal history may not apply.
· Asking questions about criminal records on job applications.
The Department of Labor and Employment will enforce the requirements of this bill. A warning and order for compliance will be issued to first time violaters. Additional violations could result in civil penalties.
There are some exceptions created by this bill. The above laws do not apply if:
· Existing law prohibits a person with any criminal record from having a specific position.
· An employer is participating in a program that encourages the hiring of individuals with criminal histories.
· The employer is legally required to check an applicant’s criminal history for a particular position.
The bill goes into effect at “12:01 a.m. on the day following the expiration of the ninety-day period after final adjournment of the general assembly” unless a referendum petition is filed. Read the bill.
Keeping Up With Relevant Laws
Every employer must comply with federal, state and local laws where they operate. To help, Backgrounds Online publishes this blog, maintains a State Laws section on our website and sends a monthly Newsletter with educational information about compliance, laws and best practices.
Many states, cities and counties have Ban the Box laws, but employers everywhere are encouraged to run background checks at the appropriate time. This is typically after an interview or conditional offer is extended.
When you order background checks, it is important to include all the criminal and position-specific components needed to help determine if a candidate is qualified and eligible. The team at Backgrounds Online is available to help you create custom background screening packages that can be used for any type of position and in accordance with relevant laws.
To learn more about how we can help you avoid risk, build strong teams, create a safe work environment and make informed decisions, please contact us. Every member of our Processing Team is highly trained, FCRA-certified and available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm.
June 18, 2019State lawmakers created a bill to help prevent wage discrimination. It prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history.Backgrounds Online | June 18, 2019
State lawmakers created a bill to help prevent wage discrimination. It prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history.
About The Act
House Bill 1696 (HB1696), known as An Act Relating To Wage And Salary Information, was passed on April 25, 2019. It bans employers from asking job seekers to provide their salary history. It also prohibits employers from contacting an applicant’s former place of employment to ask what the person earned there.
If a candidate voluntarily discloses their current salary, a WA employer may confirm the information. However, this can only occur after the employer extends an offer that includes the proposed level of compensation. Job seekers who can show that an employer violated this law may be entitled to remedies including recovery of wages and interest.
The Reason For This Bill
State legislators noted Washington already had laws in place to prevent wage gaps based on gender or other protected factors. Despite this, the state recognizes that disparities continue to exist. An Act Relating To Wage And Salary Information addresses this problem and specifies that wage discrimination leads to increased rates of poverty for women and children.
The text of the bill notes that when employers inquire about an applicant’s salary history, this type of discrimination is allowed to continue. It further noted that women have historically been offered lower levels of compensation for comparable positions even when they have comparable education and work history.
New Pay Scale Laws
HB1696 includes a section that covers requests for pay scale information. When asked, employers must inform candidates about the minimum salary for the position to which they are applying. Such a request can be made after an initial offer has been extended.
For some positions, a salary range may not exist. In these cases, the employer must determine a minimum salary prior to listing the availability of that position. This also applies to position transfers and promotions.
What Employers Should Know
Employers in Washington should be aware that this bill goes into effect in July, 2019.
Every employer should be aware that laws prohibiting questions about salary history are becoming more common. Washington is the 9th state to implement such a bill and more are likely to follow. Even if the area where you operate does not have a pay equity law in place, best practice is to not ask applicants about salary history and to provide comparable wages for comparable work. Exceptions typically exist for seniority, to accommodate the cost of living and other factors.
Backgrounds Online makes efforts to keep up with federal, state and local laws that affect employers. We provide educational resources such as this blog, monthly Newsletters, compliant forms that can be used during the hiring process and more. If you are bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. Our experienced team can help you create a fair, transparent background screening process that empowers you to build strong teams and make informed decisions. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
June 11, 2019A Human Resources Manager was hired to work for the county of Cuyahoga. After a local news source inquired about her criminal history, she was let go.Backgrounds Online | June 11, 2019
A Human Resources Manager was hired to work for the county of Cuyahoga. After a local news source inquired about her criminal history, she was let go.
About The Hire
Jennifer Vickers was employed as a Manager for the Human Resources department in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. She reportedly beat out 306 other candidates who applied for the same position. Before anyone is granted a job with the county, they must first authorize a background check. A report on Vickers should have contained information about a potentially disqualifying conviction.
When Vickers was hired, a local news team conducted an investigation into her past. What they learned caused them to question the county’s hiring decision.
Vickers has a first-degree misdemeanor conviction. Her charge was for inducing panic after allegedly accusing a stranger of abducting her one-year-old child from a local bookstore. Vickers was convicted, sentenced to six months of probation, fined and ordered to continue sessions with her psychologist. She reportedly stated the false claim was intended to raise awareness of the need for parents to closely watch their children in public.
Upon learning about Vickers’ conviction, the news team sent a list of questions to the county. They included:
- Why was Vickers terminated?
- Did she pass a background check?
- Did she disclose her criminal conviction?
- Her position would have included reviewing/approving background checks for other county applicants, correct?
- Does HR routinely hire people without background checks?
- How many other people applied for this job?
Following the investigation and inquiry, details about Vickers’ past were revealed publicly. As a result, Vickers was fired after only 4 days on the job. Her termination letter stated: “Employment is at-will, which allows the County to end the employer-employee relationship without notice and without reason.”
Do Your Candidates Have Serious Convictions?
Cuyahoga County was placed in an embarrassing and unfortunate position when news about Vickers was revealed. A situation like this can lead to a loss of trust in the county. Every employer has a responsibility to ensure the people they hire are deemed safe and reliable.
Background checks that are compiled by an accredited Consumer Reporting Agency can help confirm if an individual is both qualified and eligible for a position. They contain details about reportable convictions, show a candidate’s employment and education history and provide other useful facts.
No organization wants to be the subject of an investigation or review because of someone they chose to hire. The proper use of background checks can help prevent situations like the one that occurred in Cuyahoga County.
If you are hiring and need compliant, reliable background check information, please contact us. Our experienced team will help you create custom background screening packages that empower you to get the data you need to make informed decisions and create a safe work environment. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
June 04, 2019An Oregon based news team learned that private schools are not required to run background checks on employees.Backgrounds Online | June 04, 2019
An Oregon based news team learned that private schools are not required to run background checks on employees.
A School Investigation
KATU, a news source based in Oregon, conducted an investigation to find ways that parents can help keep their children safe at private schools and care facilities. This was prompted by a disturbing case in which a piano instructor was arrested for alleged sexual abuse to students. The teacher, who works for Let's Make Music and Dance Academy, was released after bail was posted.
The investigation revealed that private schools and academies in Oregon are not required to run background checks on potential employees.
Before a person can be hired to work at an Oregon public school, they must pass a background investigation. This includes a criminal records search that shows if the person was convicted of a violent or otherwise serious crime. The primary goal is to establish a safe environment for students, parents and people who work at these facilities.
Backgrounds Checks Encouraged
After releasing their findings, KATU called upon private schools and academies to start background screening all potential employees. This includes contractors, volunteers and anyone else who might work with or in proximity to students.
Members of the KATU team also interviewed an individual they referred to as a national expert on background checks. He told them parents should be aware that screenings are not legally required at private schools throughout the United States. Because of this, he recommended that parents ask about background screening policies before enrolling their children in any educational or care facility.
During their investigation, representatives from KATU spoke with Gil Fried, a professor at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, to get the perspective of an educator outside of Oregon. Fried told them: “Parents should make sure a private school has gone through the process of doing a complete background check of any new hire.” He also suggested that background reports should include criminal searches in every state and on a federal level. Fried further advocated that all school employees be re-screened annually to ensure they remain eligible to work with young people.
The case against the piano teacher is still pending. Until it is resolved, the instructor is not on active duty. He is, however, supported by his place of employment, which is run by his mother. She posted a statement on the company website that said the teacher was innocent and the “safety of your children always has been and will be our first priority.”
Ensuring Background Checks Are Comprehensive
As KATU learned, comprehensive background checks should be run on all candidates before job offers are made. This is especially imperative for individuals who would work with children, the elderly or any vulnerable populations. Every background check should feature a variety of criminal searches, including county, state, national and federal. They should also include searches on sex offender registries and terrorist watch list databases.
By running criminal searches, employers demonstrate they are performing due diligence to create a safe environment for everyone. This also helps the employer avoid unnecessary risk and builds trust in their brand.
If your business or organization is bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, then you will need to run background checks. The team at Backgrounds Online is experienced at building screening packages that are perfectly tailored for any type of position in every industry. Contact us for assistance and to answer your questions Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
May 30, 2019After a woman with a long and serious criminal history was approved as a nanny, the company’s background screening policies are being questioned.Backgrounds Online | May 30, 2019
After a woman with a long and serious criminal history was approved as a nanny, the company’s background screening policies are being questioned.
Nanny With A Record
When a couple in Boston needed help providing care for their children, they turned to Care.com. The website allows customers to find a variety of providers for seniors, children and pets. Visitors can enter a specific set of criteria to help them pinpoint someone who is well-suited for their situation.
The Boston couple selected a woman named Stephanie Lee Fox. After she had been employed as their nanny for a few months, the couple determined that Fox had stolen over $280,000 from their bank account. They filed charges and soon after learned their nanny had a lengthy criminal record.
After the couple’s story went public, the Boston Globe conducted an investigation on Fox. They found 111 charges against her, including theft, identity fraud, forgery and receiving stolen property. These charges were filed in multiple counties where the woman had lived during a seven-year period.
Fox pleaded guilty to federal bank fraud charges after being arrested for allegedly stealing from the Boston couple. This case brought a great deal of scrutiny to the background screening practices utilized by Care.com.
Background Checks For Care.com
People who are approved to provide care must then authorize a background screening. Care.com offers four levels. Their website cautions visitors that the results may not be accurate or complete. It also advises customers to do their own research on potential caregivers.
The couple from Boston suggested that Care.com should have, at minimum, uncovered the woman’s criminal records in Massachusetts. Had any details about her convictions been revealed, the couple would not have employed her. At the time Fox was hired, she was on probation and was in the process of paying back debts created by her previous criminal activities.
Finding Criminal Records
One of the primary purposes of a background check is to reveal reportable criminal records that could show a person might be a security risk. In the case of Fox, numerous convictions could have been returned in a background report. This information should have immediately disqualified her as a caregiver.
So how are criminal records found?
A comprehensive background check begins with a Social Security Number Trace. This confirms the person’s identity and shows counties where they have lived. That information informs a Consumer Reporting Agency where to run county criminal searches. This involves going directly to county courthouses to obtain accurate and up-to-date records.
The background report can be expanded by adding state, nationwide and federal criminal searches. These searches can show if a person has a conviction in a location where they have not recently lived. When results are found, they are typically followed up with a county search to again obtain the most complete information available.
Without running a suite of criminal searches, serious convictions can go unnoticed. That was the case with Fox. Had a thorough background check been run; she would not have been approved as a nanny and then hired by the Boston couple.
Other Cases Against Care.com
The Boston situation is not the only time Care.com’s screening policies have been questioned. Cases of abuse and even wrongful deaths have been levied against providers who were listed on the website. In some of these cases, the provider was later found to have a variety of convictions, including drunken driving and violent crimes.
People who are hired to provide care are expected to be thoroughly screened and deemed safe to work with vulnerable populations. When it is learned that someone was approved as a care provider despite having serious convictions, people may question whether or not it is safe to utilize services from the company that authorized such individuals. The Boston couple who hired Fox was quoted as saying: "The background screening system exists solely to catch people like her. It's a real shame in this case it failed."
Key Takeaway For Employers
Every employer is responsible for taking steps to ensure the people they hire or allow to represent them are safe and reliable. This is accomplished by running background checks after an interview or conditional offer and before a final hiring decision is made. These reports show if a candidate has serious criminal records and can verify they have the required education, employment history, license or credential.
When you are bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, start with a comprehensive background check. The team at Backgrounds Online can help you create screening packages that are ideal for any type of position. Contact us for expert assistance Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
May 28, 2019A Colorado resident filed a Class Action Lawsuit against Starbucks. He alleges the company wrongfully denied him employment and violated his FCRA rights.Backgrounds Online | May 28, 2019
A Colorado resident filed a Class Action Lawsuit against Starbucks. He alleges the company wrongfully denied him employment and violated his FCRA rights.
Basis of the Lawsuit
Jonathan Rosario applied for a job at a Starbucks in Colorado. He was not hired. Rosario says he was denied employment after the coffee company reviewed incorrect information on his background check.
According to Rosario, some of the records that appeared on his report do not belong to him. He also states that he was not notified of a pending adverse action based on the results of that report. If he did not receive a pre-adverse notice, then he would not have been able to refute the results, which is a right granted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Background Checks Should Contain Accurate, Reportable Data
Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA’s) are authorized to provide employment screening services. These entities must do everything possible to ensure the data they report is accurate and that it can legally be used for employment purposes. This includes taking steps to confirm the identity of every person who is being screened and verifying the data on a background check is for the correct individual.
When dealing with common names, CRA’s must be extra cautious. Identity Verification is always the first step. CRA's use full names, Social Security Numbers, birth dates and other reliable data points to ensure they are referencing the right person. If these steps aren’t followed carefully, then there is a chance that the screening company could supply data for the wrong person.
Applicants Must Be Allowed to Dispute Background Check Results
Even when every precaution is followed, there is a possibility that a report will contain some information for the wrong person. This is a rare scenario, but it can happen due to identity theft or common names. The FCRA stipulates that employers must give applicants time to review the results of their background check and, if necessary, file a dispute before an adverse action occurs.
According to Rosario, he was not notified of any issues or given an opportunity to dispute the results of his report.
About the Lawsuit
Mr. Rosario filed a suit on behalf of himself and anyone who might have gone through the same experience. It is possible that other people who were denied employment at Starbucks could learn about this and choose to participate in the Class Action Lawsuit. If more join, then the claims against Starbucks could increase dramatically.
Rosario seeks a trial by jury and hopes to recover actual, statutory and punitive damages. He also claims that he suffered monetary damages because he was not granted employment. Furthermore, he seeks compensation for interest, legal fees and any other form of relief the court feels is justified.
How This Impacts Your Business
Job seekers who learn about this case may be prompted to consider whether or not they’ve been placed in similar situations. If they have, then they could initiate their own lawsuits.
This situation should serve as a reminder that it is essential for employers to remain compliant with FCRA regulations. Best practice is to work with accredited CRA’s that provide employment screening services in accordance with federal and state laws.
If you have questions about compliance or employment screening, please contact Backgrounds Online for assistance. Our staff is FCRA certified and committed to providing compliant and legally viable background check reports that help protect our customers while they make informed hiring decisions.