March 05, 2020A proposed bill would prohibit Colorado employers from taking adverse actions against employees who use marijuana on their own time.Backgrounds Online | March 05, 2020
A proposed bill would prohibit Colorado employers from taking adverse actions against employees who use marijuana on their own time.
About The Bill
Colorado House Bill 20-1089 (HB20-1089) is not exclusively about marijuana usage, but that is a primary focus. It updates existing law to say: “It is a discriminatory or unfair employment practice for an employer to terminate the employment of any employee due to that employee's engaging in any lawful activity that is lawful under state law while off the premises of the employer during non-working hours.”
Current law in Colorado disallows employers from taking adverse actions against employees who consume alcohol while off-duty. It does not make the same stipulation for marijuana usage, which is now legal in the state. Representative Jovan Melton introduced HB20-1089 to clarify that employers are prohibited from firing employees who partake in legal activities outside of the workday.
What If The Activity Is Illegal On A Federal Basis?
HB20-1089 goes further by specifying that it does not matter if an activity is illegal on a federal level. It states that by “clarifying that the prohibition on termination for lawful off-duty activities includes activities that are lawful under state law, even if not lawful under federal law, the statute will be brought into harmony with the requirements of the Colorado constitution.”
Lawmakers hope the bill will be approved and implemented sometime in 2020. Read the full bill.
According to Melton, HB20-1089 would not affect pre-employment drug screenings. However, it will address random drug screens for existing employees.
Employees will still be unable to use marijuana while on the job, but THC can remain in a person’s system for up to 30 days. Therefore, employers could be asked to omit tests for THC in their screenings or to disregard any positive results that are returned. Employers will still be allowed to test for other types of drug usage on applicants and employees.
What Colorado Employers Should Know
Employers in Colorado should be aware of HB20-1089 and prepared for compliance if the bill is signed into law. Should that happen, no employee can be terminated for using marijuana (or participating in other legal activities) outside of the workplace. While this law is specific to Colorado, every employer should be aware that marijuana-based laws are becoming more common. We recommend that organizations confer with legal counsel when finalizing their written hiring policies to ensure they address compliance with relevant laws.
If you need background checks, drug screenings, ongoing monitoring or related services that help you make informed decisions and create safe workplaces, please contact us. Our team is highly experienced and makes efforts to keep up with laws that affect employers. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
March 03, 2020A proposed package of MI bills could create new opportunities for certain types of convictions to be expunged.Backgrounds Online | March 03, 2020
A proposed package of MI bills could create new opportunities for certain types of convictions to be expunged.
Legislators in Michigan submitted a package of six bills that would create new expungement laws for residents. The bills call for:
· Automatic expungement of records for individuals who have up to four misdemeanors and two felonies when ten years have passed since sentencing, probation, parole or time in prison (whichever is the latest date). This only applies if the offenses are not assaultive and the person has not incurred any additional convictions.
· Most traffic violations would be eligible for expungement after ten years. This excludes DUIs, accidents that resulted in death and other offenses.
· Marijuana-related misdemeanors for offenses that have since been de-criminalized would become eligible for expungement.
· People who have up to three non-violent convictions can be eligible to have up to two felonies and four misdemeanors expunged.
· The amount of time that must pass for certain types of misdemeanors and felonies to become eligible for expungement could be shortened. For example:
- Misdemeanors can be eligible after three years.
- Felonies can be eligible after seven years.
· Multiple offenses that occurred during “One Bad Night” may be eligible to be sealed. This means offenses which occur within 24-hours would be treated as a single felony if none were violent, involved weapons or resulted in more than ten years of incarceration.
Representative Eric Leutheuser supports this package of bills. He said: “It’s one of those things that is truly and profoundly good. I think we could be making one of the most significant efforts in generations to help our fellow citizens gain fuller participation in our common life.”
Juvenile Records May Be Sealed
Michigan Senate Bill 681 (SB681) seeks to lower the age at which residents may have juvenile records sealed. Currently, people must wait until they are 18 to submit a request. These requests can be made one year after disposition or release from detention.
The bill would eliminate that age requirement and allow people to submit requests one year after a period of court supervision ends. It also calls for records to be automatically sealed two years after court supervision ends or the individual becomes 18, whichever occurs later.
SB681 lists specific criteria for what can and cannot be sealed. Read the full bill.
Senate Bill 682 (SB682) seeks to automatically seal juvenile court records to everyone other than law enforcement agencies. If passed, it would go into effect in January 2021. Read the full bill.
What Michigan Employers Should Know
These second chance bills have strong support and are likely to be approved. Senator Jeff Irwin spoke in favor of these bills, saying: “Everybody deserves a second chance. When people make mistakes, especially when they are young, the criminal justice system should focus on rehabilitation and getting people back on track. We're making good progress on reforming the expungement system for adults and we ought to extend similar opportunities to people who committed their crimes as juveniles."
If some or all of the bills referenced above become law, then employers in Michigan must adjust their hiring and background screening policies to ensure compliance. Criminal records that have been sealed or expunged cannot be considered for any employment-related decisions.
Stay Compliant When Background Screening
Backgrounds Online keeps up with laws that affect employers. Watch our site for details about new and changing laws where you operate. We also recommend creating and maintaining written policies that cover your entire hiring process. Have this documentation reviewed by legal counsel to make sure it covers all relevant laws.
When you’re ready to run background checks, please contact us. Our background reports provide data you can use when hiring, promoting and making other essential business decisions. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
February 27, 2020The retail giant faced a massive lawsuit for alleged FCRA violations, but the case was decertified in a federal court.Backgrounds Online | February 27, 2020
The retail giant faced a massive lawsuit for alleged FCRA violations, but the case was decertified in a federal court.
Allegations Against Walmart
In February 2019, we reported that Walmart was being sued for alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The suit claimed that Walmart “willfully included extraneous information” in their disclosure document.
This lawsuit represented more than 6.5 million plaintiffs. If Walmart had been found guilty of violating federal and California laws by providing improper disclosure documents to candidates, the employer could have been hit with huge fines.
The Lawsuit Is Decertified
The case, known as Pitre v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., was brought to a federal court in California. There were three primary plaintiffs, all of whom had authorized background checks and been hired. After the suit was initially certified by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, Walmart filed a motion to decertify, suggesting the claim lacked standing.
As the case proceeded, litigators referenced the well-known Spokeo v. Robins decision. That case determined a statutory violation of the FCRA must include a “concrete injury”, meaning a de facto or existing injury or something that involves a genuine risk of harm to establish standing.
During the hearings, the primary plaintiffs only alleged a “bare procedural violation” of the FCRA. They also testified that they were aware that background checks would be run and had provided consent. As such, no concrete injury was found to occur.
The court wrote an opinion that said: “The only injury plaintiffs identify is that, as a result of defendant’s deficient disclosure forms, they ‘have been injured including, but not limited to, having their privacy and statutory rights invaded in violation of the FCRA,’ or, put differently, that defendant ‘obtained plaintiffs’ personal information in violation of their statutorily protected rights. If, as the Supreme Court has established, there is a category of ‘bare procedural violation,’ then it must certainly encompass the wrongdoing alleged in plaintiffs’ first cause of action.”
What Employers Should Know
Walmart was sued for allegedly not following federal laws about disclosing the intent to run a background check. Since no actual injury could be established, the suit was decertified. However, it remains essential for employers to follow relevant laws when providing disclosure and authorization documents.
A disclosure must be a clear, conspicuous document that explains the nature and scope of the intended background investigation and informs the recipient that an organization wishes to run a consumer report on them. The consumer must also receive a written authorization document which they sign to provide consent. Learn more.
If you need to run background checks, please contact us. We provide a proprietary applicant submittal flow that asks the people you screen to send their information directly to us. This saves your organization time and money and also ensures the people you screen receive compliant disclosure and authorization documents, relevant state notices and any other required documentation. Our team is available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
February 25, 2020Governor Cuomo is expected to sign a bill that would disallow employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history.Backgrounds Online | February 25, 2020
Governor Cuomo is expected to sign a bill that would disallow employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history.
About The Bill
New York lawmakers introduced Assembly Bill 5308 (AB5308) to help end wage discrimination based on gender and other factors. This bill has been passed on to the Governor and awaits his signature. It stipulates that employers may not:
· Rely on an applicant’s wage or salary history when determining what level of compensation to offer.
· Request or require a candidate to provide their salary history.
· Inquire about a candidate’s salary history from other sources, such as an individual’s previous employer.
· Refuse to interview, hire, promote or otherwise employ a person because of their salary history.
· Refuse to interview, hire or otherwise retaliate against a candidate or former employee who filed a complaint regarding a violation of AB5308.
Job seekers may voluntarily provide their wage history to employers. This can be done for the purpose of negotiating a potential salary. When an employer makes an offer that includes the proposed compensation, the candidate may counter by saying they currently earn more. If this occurs, then the candidate may authorize the employer to verify their current salary.
If The Bill Is Signed
AB5308 was introduced on February 8, 2019. It received strong support from assembly members. The bill was approved and submitted to Governor Cuomo, who is expected to sign it into law. If he does, it will go into effect 180 days later. New York employers should be aware of AB5308 and prepared to comply if it is signed.
The bill establishes remedies for individuals who can show a potential employer violated AB5308. If this happens, a civil action can be brought against the employer for: “…compensation for any damages sustained as a result of such violation on behalf of such applicant, employee, or other persons similarly situated in any court of competent jurisdiction. The court may award injunctive relief as well as reasonable attorneys' fees to a plaintiff who prevails in a civil action…”
AB5308 would not supersede any existing federal or state laws that require an applicant to disclose their salary history.
Wage Discrimination Laws In The U.S.
Bills like AB5308 are becoming more common in the United States. We’ve seen various laws enacted to help prevent wage discrimination based on gender and other factors. More are expected to be passed in the coming years. A best practice is to not ask candidates about their salary history or to base an offer of compensation on how much a person previously earned.
Every employer is responsible for complying with laws that cover the hiring and background screening process. We recommend maintaining written policies that are reviewed and approved by legal counsel. When you are ready to make a final hiring determination, the next step is to run a comprehensive background check. This demonstrates you are performing due diligence to create a safe work environment and helps you determine if a candidate has the required skills, education and employment history.
The experienced team at Backgrounds Online excels at creating custom background screening packages for any position. Contact us to request background checks on candidates, employees, volunteers or contractors. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
February 20, 2020The financial services company is alleged to have hired three convicts due to inadequate background screening policies.Backgrounds Online | February 20, 2020
The financial services company is alleged to have hired three convicts due to inadequate background screening policies.
Insufficient Background Screening
Financial giant Citigroup allegedly failed to properly background screen applicants for their Broker-Dealer division over a 7-year period. According to a news article, the company neglected to run background checks on numerous people who were hired between January 2010 and May 2017.
During this time, three hires were found to have criminal records that should have disqualified them. Existing laws stipulate that people with certain types of convictions may not work in positions that grant them access to sensitive financial data.
This matter was considered by the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). They levied a fine against Citigroup in the amount of $1.2 million. While the company has not admitted or denied fault, they agreed to pay the full amount.
Susan Schroeder, the head of FINRA enforcement, spoke about this issue. She said: “FINRA member firms must live up to their responsibility as a gatekeeper protecting investors from bad actors. It is important that firms appropriately screen all employees for past criminal or regulatory events that can disqualify individuals from associating with member firms, even in a non-registered capacity.”
A Similar Story
Citigroup is not the only large financial company to be fined for failing to properly background screen employees. JPMorgan Chase faced a similar charge in 2017. It was alleged that this company neglected to run background checks and therefore hired former convicts who were granted access to personal banking information about thousands of customers.
Like Citigroup, JPMorgan was hit with a $1.25 million fine from FINRA.
Hiring People With Criminal Records
Employers in the United States must comply with relevant Second Chance laws that help people who have criminal records find employment. However, every employer is still expected to run background checks on potential employees, volunteers and contractors. Millions of Americans have minor convictions that would not disqualify them from most positions, but some offenses are serious enough to make the person ineligible for hire.
Both Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase were charged large fines for allegedly having inadequate background screening policies. This is a strong reminder that it is essential for every organization to perform due diligence and screen anyone who might be allowed to represent their brand.
We recommend having written hiring and background screening policies that cover what types of potentially adverse information you are looking for in a background check and which offenses could disqualify a job seeker. Have your legal counsel review and approve these policies to ensure they are compliant with applicable laws.
Are Your Background Screening Policies Sufficient?
If you are not properly screening your candidates, then you could face investigations, fines, a loss of trust in your brand and other repercussions. Thankfully, it’s easy to run comprehensive and compliant background checks. When you’re ready to begin, please contact us.
Our team is highly experienced at building customized screening packages that provide the facts you need to determine if someone is eligible to work for you. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
February 18, 2020To help employers find qualified applicants, HR giants like SHRM encourage hiring managers to consider people with criminal histories.Backgrounds Online | February 18, 2020
To help employers find qualified applicants, HR giants like SHRM encourage hiring managers to consider people with criminal histories.
A “Human Capital” Crisis
The online publication HR Technologist suggests “Human Capital Crisis” has become a common term to describe a shortage of job seekers in the United States. They published an article about hiring applicants who have criminal records. It stated that unemployment has been consistently low and this trend is expected to continue. While this is positive news, it also indicates employers are having trouble finding people to fill crucial roles.
Their article mentioned that artificial intelligence is a commonly used HR tool. Software programs can identify applicants who have sizable gaps in their employment history, potentially due to a period of incarceration. The author encouraged employers to consider qualified candidates who have employment gaps due to time in prison if they have not incurred additional convictions.
Getting Talent Back To Work
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) launched an initiative called Getting Talent Back to Work (GTBW) in 2019. Their website states that around 700,000 people are released from prison each year, only to be “re-sentenced” by their inability to find jobs. GTBW asks employers to take a pledge that confirms they will consider people who have criminal records.
This Pledge provides statistics such as:
- One in three adults have a criminal record.
- 95% of the people in prison now will be released, meaning they will eventually need employment.
- Nearly 7.8 million jobs need to be filled in the U.S.
- 82% of hiring managers agree that workers who have a criminal history are often among their most productive employees.
Employers that take the Pledge are vowing to consider people who have criminal histories. SHRM says organizations that do this join a “coalition of diverse businesses that represent a major portion of the American workforce.” They also say hiring former convicts provides three primary benefits:
1. Employers gain a more diverse pool of potentially qualified workers.
2. There is an intrinsic value to providing second chances to people.
3. When former convicts land jobs, they can improve their lives and the community.
Numerous Laws Encourage Employers To Consider Former Convicts
Lawmakers across the country have shown they agree with organizations like SHRM. Numerous bills prohibit employers from inquiring about criminal records until after conducting an interview and considering the applicant’s qualifications.
Other bills have also been passed to help people find employment despite having criminal histories. They include laws that make it easy for people to expunge minor convictions after a certain period of time or require employers to individually assess a person’s offenses and determine if they warrant an adverse action. The GTBW Pledge is voluntary, but every employer must follow Second Chance laws that are active where they operate.
Running Background Checks
Second Chance laws and initiatives like the one created by SHRM all acknowledge the need for employers to run comprehensive background checks. It is the responsibility of every employer to perform due diligence and take steps to create safe workplaces.
When you’re ready to bring on employees, contractors or volunteers, please contact us. Our highly trained team can help you customize background checks based on industry requirements and the needs of each position. We’re available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
February 13, 2020NY Senator Chuck Schumer issued a Press Release and sent a letter to the Department Of Justice regarding their alleged delay of a new background check system.Backgrounds Online | February 13, 2020
NY Senator Chuck Schumer issued a Press Release and sent a letter to the Department Of Justice regarding their alleged delay of a new background check system.
An Act To Protect Vulnerable Populations
In 2018, a bill known as the Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA) was signed into law. It was designed to protect children, the elderly and people with disabilities. To accomplish this, the Act called for the Department Of Justice (DOJ) to create a system from which organizations can run FBI background checks on candidates who might be hired to work with vulnerable populations.
This system was mandated to be in place by March 2019. As of November 2019, that had still not occurred. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a staunch supporter of the CPIA, got involved to try and move things forward.
Senator Schumer Speaks Out
On November 10, 2019, Senator Schumer issued a Press Release that asked the DOJ to explain why a method for obtaining FBI background checks had not been implemented. Schumer stressed that the safety of children and other vulnerable populations is paramount.
He wrote: “Protecting children, the elderly and people with disabilities from abuse must be a major priority at the Department of Justice, but this no-excuse delay with implementing the Child Protection Improvement Act really makes you worry. We have to have robust employment checks when it comes to staffing afterschool programs, preschools, nursing homes and other organizations that employ people whose job it is to oversee members of a vulnerable population.” Read the Press Release.
In addition to the Press Release, Schumer made several appearances at events in New York. He publicly called for the DOJ to act and repeated that protecting kids from potential sex offenders and abusers is a federal priority. Schumer declared the background check system must be implemented immediately and expressed concern that without it, a tragedy could occur.
Sex Offender Statistics
New York is said to have more than 8,000 people listed on sex offender registries within five counties. According to an article from the Democrat & Chronicle website, the number of registered offenders in New York has increased by 60% over the last decade.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children revealed that there are more than 800,000 sex offenders in the United States. Senator Schumer looks at these statistics as a strong call-to-action for introducing stronger background screening policies. He commented: “This failure to implement the law that makes those checks stronger and easier to accomplish locally endangers the very innocents we sought to protect. That’s why the Department of Justice needs to tell Congress what is going on and then get moving.”
More Support For Stronger Background Checks
The Senator is not alone in his efforts. The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) is also calling for the DOJ to act. Steve Forrester, the Director of Government Relations and Administration at The NYSPCC, issued a statement on this matter.
“As the world’s first child protection agency, The NYSPCC strongly supports the swift implementation of the Child Protection Improvements Act. There are dire consequences for children when pedophiles, and other unsafe adults in positions of trust, gain access to them. In-depth background checks are one of the most important tools that administrators of child-serving organizations have for hiring safe and appropriate employees and volunteers. The CPIA strengthens the screening process in all states, and must be implemented without further delay,”
The Urgency Of Background Screening
When consumers use the services of any business or organization, they expect people who work for those brands to be thoroughly background screened. Comprehensive background checks show employers if a candidate has a sexual, violent or another serious criminal record that makes them ineligible for hire. Running them is an essential part of the due diligence process.
The team at Backgrounds Online can help customize background screening packages that are ideal for any position. Contact us Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm for expert assistance.
February 11, 2020Organizations in Waterloo with 15 or more employees may not inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until they extend a conditional job offer.Backgrounds Online | February 11, 2020
Organizations in Waterloo with 15 or more employees may not inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until they extend a conditional job offer.
Waterloo’s Ban The Box Ordinance
The City of Waterloo, Iowa passed a Ban the Box law for organizations with 15 or more employees. It prohibits covered employers from:
· Including questions about criminal records on job applications.
· Asking job seekers if they have convictions, arrests or pending charges during the initial application process.
· Taking adverse actions based exclusively on a candidate’s record of arrest or a pending charge.
· Taking adverse actions based on criminal records that have been expunged.
Waterloo employers are encouraged to run comprehensive criminal background checks, but only after extending conditional job offers. If the results show an applicant has violent offenses or other convictions that make them ineligible for a position, the employer should then take an adverse action.
Employers in Waterloo may deny employment based on the results of a background check. The Ordinance states that an employer must have a legitimate business reason. These include:
· Situations in which the offense has a “direct and substantial bearing on the fitness or ability to perform the duties or responsibilities of the intended employment” when the employer considers the following factors:
- The location where work will be performed.
- The seriousness of an offense.
- Whether employment creates an opportunity for the individual to commit a similar offense.
- How much time has passed since the conviction.
- The number and types of convictions or pending charges.
· If hiring the person creates an unreasonable risk to property or the safety of employees, customers or the public.
· If the position involves working with vulnerable populations such as children, disabled adults or people who were victimized by various types of crime.
What Waterloo Employers Should Know
This Ban the Box Ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2020. Once active, employers in Waterloo Iowa must be in compliance. Failure to follow these laws could result in lawsuits and other repercussions.
Nationwide Second Chance MovementThe Waterloo Ordinance is one of many Second Chance laws. Employers throughout the nation are being asked to consider applicants based on their merit and qualifications before running background checks. Millions of Americans have criminal records, but most of them would not warrant an adverse action such as denial of employment.
The Second Chance Movement intends to help people with minor and outdated convictions find employment. “Ban the Box” laws like the one in Waterloo are created to help residents rejoin society and avoid recidivism. They are also intended to help employers by giving them access to a larger pool of qualified job seekers.
Stay Compliant With Ban The Box Laws
It is the responsibility of every employer to comply with federal, state and local laws that cover the hiring and background screening process. Backgrounds Online encourages employers to maintain written hiring policies that include Ban the Box and other relevant laws. Have legal counsel sign off on your documentation before sharing it with everyone involved in the hiring process.
When you’re ready to run background checks, please contact us. Our team is highly experienced and able to help you build custom screening packages that comply with laws where you operate. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
February 04, 2020Volunteers at Roaring Fork School District in CO must be background screened. Some residents may not volunteer because of their citizenship status.Backgrounds Online | February 04, 2020
Volunteers at Roaring Fork School District in CO must be background screened. Some residents may not volunteer because of their citizenship status.
Background Check Discussions In Roaring Fork
Background screening is an important topic within the Roaring Fork District of Colorado. People who want to volunteer at local schools must authorize and pass a background check. While it is essential to screen anyone who might work with or around children, some qualified residents may be hesitant to volunteer due to their citizenship status.
Potential volunteers are currently required to submit to a fingerprint background check. One mandatory form used in this process asks the person if they are a “legal alien,” “illegal alien,” or “pending.” School Superintendent Rob Stein believes residents should not have to answer such questions. He said: “It feels unsafe for many of our community members to provide this information, and it’s not information that’s necessary for this purpose.”
Three CO residents who were vying for a seat on the local school board addressed the issue of properly vetting volunteers. Candidate, Jasmin Ramirez spoke in favor of background checks while expressing concerns about losing potentially eligible people. Ramirez said: “None of the parents, either documented or not, want to eliminate background checks. This is not about getting our fingerprints taken. … It’s literally about one question that says, are you legal, or are you not here legally, and the fear that causes for our families in this community.”
Levels Of Background Screening
Everyone involved in the discussion wants to ensure background checks are run on each person who volunteers at a school. One concept they’ve considered is establishing different levels of screenings based on the responsibilities for each position.
For example, some volunteers will be under constant supervision from a teacher or another school representative. Others will take on duties such as chaperoning overnight trips. People who would have direct access to students might be put through a more comprehensive background screening than those who wouldn’t.
District officials are considering options for the current policy. Most background checks do not require fingerprints. Employers that work with Consumer Reporting Agencies, such as Backgrounds Online, have the option to customize background screening packages based on the needs and requirements of any position or industry.
Safety Comes First
While no one wants to exclude qualified volunteers, the safety of each student is paramount. Shane Larson, an incumbent board representative, shared thoughts about this: “Like everybody else, we do not want to jeopardize the safety of children, but we also absolutely do not want to put barriers for those who want to volunteer to be in the schools.”
The district has scheduled public forums to discuss this important topic. Their goal is to make sure that schools have eligible volunteers while also ensuring they do not bring on people who may pose a risk to students or faculty.
Takeaway For Organizations
Every organization that has volunteers, employees or contractors is responsible for background screening each person. This shows they are performing due diligence and taking important steps to create a safe work environment. When vulnerable populations such as children are included, thorough screening becomes even more critical.
Backgrounds Online offers complete customization of background check packages. If you are bringing on people to represent your brand, please contact us. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
January 28, 2020Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill that makes certain types of criminal records eligible for expungement.Backgrounds Online | January 28, 2020
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill that makes certain types of criminal records eligible for expungement.
The Clean Slate Bill
In 2018, Pennsylvania legislators passed The Clean Slate Bill. It was created to help people with certain types of criminal records find employment and housing. Governor Wolf spoke in favor of this initiative. He said: “I am proud to sign this legislation, which will make it easier for those who have interacted with the justice system to reduce the stigma they face when looking for employment and housing.”
The bill established guidelines for residents to file a petition to “block disclosure” of their criminal records. If a request is approved, then the person’s records will no longer be available to landlords, employers or other public organizations. They would still be available to criminal justice and government agencies.
Only certain types of convictions can be blocked. They include misdemeanors that resulted in a maximum of 5 years of imprisonment and were not violent or sexual offenses. To be eligible, the person must not have been convicted of any crime in the last ten years and paid all fees associated with their sentence.
A second part of the Clean Slate Bill, Act 56, went into effect on June 28, 2019. It calls for criminal records to be sealed under specific circumstances. For example, state and local police must remove notations of arrests, indictments and details about criminal proceedings before releasing records to an individual or non-criminal justice agency if:
· Three years have passed since the arrest.
· No conviction occurred.
· There are no pending charges.
Act 56 also limits access to criminal records if:
· A conviction was a misdemeanor of the second degree, third degree or punishable by imprisonment for no more than 2 years if the person has been “free for 10 years from conviction for any offense punishable by imprisonment of one or more years and if completion of each court-ordered financial obligation of the sentence has occurred.”
· Charges resulted in a disposition other than a conviction.
· Ten years passed since a conviction for a summary offense if all financial obligations of the sentence have also been completed.
Act 56 of the Clean Slate Bill was created to:
· Reduce the rate of recidivism.
· Provide “hope” and prevent hardships for people who have criminal histories but are attempting to rehabilitate their lives.
· Save the Commonwealth money by reducing the amount of time spent on the administration of criminal justice.
Second Chance Laws
Pennsylvania is one of many states to pass legislation that helps people with minor or outdated criminal records. Examples include laws that:
· Prohibit employers from asking about convictions on job applications.
· Require employers to individually assess criminal offenses.
· Create easier methods to seal certain types of convictions.
· Provide other resources to help people re-enter society.
Consult with your legal counsel to ensure you are compliant with second chance and other laws where you operate.
Running Background Checks
Every organization is responsible for performing due diligence and running comprehensive background checks on candidates, volunteers, employees and contractors. While many offenses are minor and would not disqualify a job seeker, hiring someone who has a violent or sexual criminal history could put your business, customers and employees at risk. Criminal background checks provide the details you need to make informed decisions and create a safe work environment.
When you’re ready to start the background screening process, please contact us. We make efforts to keep up with relevant state laws and every member of our processing team earns their FCRA certification. We’re available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
January 23, 2020AB5, the bill that defines how California employers differentiate between employees and contractors, is under fire from several organizations.Backgrounds Online | January 21, 2020
AB5, the bill that defines how California employers differentiate between employees and contractors, is under fire from several organizations.
An Initiative To Overturn AB5 For On Demand Drivers
On January 2, 2020, the California Attorney General released information about proposed Initiative 19-0026, which seeks to overturn AB5 for “app-based” delivery and transportation drivers. To get this initiative on the ballot, nearly 625,000 verified signatures must be obtained. The initiative, which is primarily sponsored by Lyft, Uber and DoorDash, states that it intends to establish:
“Different criteria for determining whether app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers are "employees" or "independent contractors." Independent contractors are not entitled to certain state-law protections afforded employees—including minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation. Instead, companies with independent contractor drivers will be required to provide specified alternative benefits, including minimum compensation and healthcare subsidies based on engaged driving time, vehicle insurance, safety training, and sexual harassment policies. Restricts local regulation of app-based drivers; criminalizes impersonation of such drivers; requires background checks.”
Rally To Repeal
California Assemblyman Kevin Kiley opposes AB5. He helped organize a “Rally to Repeal” the state law. It will be held be on January 28 on the northern steps of the California State Capitol building at 10am. Following the rally, attendees are encouraged to visit their representatives and explain how the law affects them.
Kiley also introduced Assembly Bill 1928 to repeal AB5. It states: “This bill would repeal those existing provisions and instead require a determination of whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor to be based on the specific multifactor test set forth in Borello, including whether the person to whom service is rendered has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired, and other identified factors. The bill would make related, conforming changes.
This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.”
Protect App-Based Drivers & Services
A website known as Protect App-Based Drivers & Services asks visitors to support independent drivers and oppose AB5. The group is said to be comprised of a “coalition of on-demand drivers and network companies, small businesses, community groups and public safety organizations.”
According to the site, AB5 “jeopardizes the freedom of hundreds of thousands of Californians to choose to work as independent contractors with app-based rideshare and delivery network platforms, and threatens the availability of these on-demand services that millions of Californians rely on daily.”
Visitors to the site are asked to join and show their support. Upon joining, individuals will receive auto-dialed calls and texts with updates about the campaign to repeal AB5. Learn more.
Takeaway For California Employers
AB5 is currently in effect, so employers in California should be familiar with this law. If you haven’t done so yet, you may wish to consult with your legal counsel to ensure your organization is in compliance.
Whether you’re bringing on employees or contractors, an essential part of the hiring process is running comprehensive background checks. They provide the information employers need to make informed decisions, demonstrate due diligence and create safe workplaces.
When you’re ready to screen candidates, please contact us. Our experienced team will help you build custom background check packages for any type of position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.
January 21, 2020On January 1, 2020, California Bill AB5 went into effect. It created stricter guidelines for determining if a worker is an employee or contractor.Backgrounds Online | January 21, 2020
On January 1, 2020, California Bill AB5 went into effect. It created stricter guidelines for determining if a worker is an employee or contractor.
History Of The Bill
California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 18, 2019 and went into effect on January 1, 2020. The bill updated a decision made in the case of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. That case analyzed the definitions of employees and independent contractors as they were previously established in the 1989 case of Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industry Relations (Borello).
The Borello decision created a “right to control” test to help define an employment relationship. It was used to establish if a worker could be fired “at will”, how a person would be paid for a job and if the parties agreed they were implementing an employer/employee relationship.
In their Dynamex decision, the California Supreme Court created a three-step process called the “ABC Test.” Employers were asked to consider three factors when bringing on new workers. Depending on the outcome, the employer would determine if a worker was an employee or contractor.
Updated ABC Test
Some California legislators felt the ABC Test made it too easy for employers to classify workers as contractors. They updated the test to help ensure more people would be considered employees and thus gain additional rights and benefits. AB5 states that the misclassification of contractors has been a “significant factor in the erosion of the middle class and the rise in income inequality.” The bill intends to codify the ABC test in the hopes of restoring protections to millions of Americans.
With AB5 in place, workers must be considered employees unless all three of the following revised conditions are met:
A: The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.
B: The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.
C: The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.
Multiple exemptions are created by AB5. A few include (but are not limited to):
Various occupations. Examples include licensed insurance agents, certain licensed health care professionals, registered securities broker-dealers or investment advisers, direct sales salespersons, real estate licensees, commercial fishermen, workers providing licensed barber or cosmetology services, and others performing work under a contract for professional services, with another business entity, or pursuant to a subcontract in the construction industry.
Professional service providers. Examples include travel agents, graphic designers and fine artists. To qualify, these providers must:
· Maintain a business location.
· Be able to negotiate their own service rate.
· Customarily engage in the same type of work performed under contract with another hiring entity.
· Hold themselves out to other potential customers as available to perform the same type of work.
Bona fide business-to-business contracting relationships. To qualify, these must meet 12 separate conditions.
To learn more, read AB5.
Takeaway For California Employers
California employers that have workers they currently deem independent contractors should be aware of and compliant with AB5. The law is active, but some groups hope to have it repealed or modified. Follow this blog for ongoing developments.
Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice of any kind. We recommend having your legal counsel review your hiring policies to ensure they are compliant with all applicable laws.
When you’re bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, it is important to run comprehensive background checks. The team at Backgrounds Online can help you customize screening packages for any position in your industry. Contact us for expert assistance Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.