Posted in credit checks in employment, employment background screening, employment credit checks, Federal law
It was more than six months ago when craft retailer Michaels was allegedly informed that it needed to move its background check disclosure statement on its job applications. Michaels was allegedly told by consumer reporting agency General Information Services Inc. that it needed to put that disclosure on a separate document, as it was “included on the same page as … where a job applicant may record his or her previous work experience, 10 notices of state laws … and various other statements.”
Despite the warning, the retailer failed to complete this action, and now finds itself in the midst of a lawsuit for allegedly breaking state and federal laws.
The case is brought forth by New Jersey’s Christina Graham, who applied to work at the craft store last June. The plaintiff states that Michaels is in violation of New Jersey’s Fair Credit Reporting Act, as well as the federal Act, both of which mandate that employers disclose that they intend to conduct credit report checks during the background check process on a document that is separate from the rest of the employment application.
Graham hopes to win damages not only for herself, but also for all Michaels applicants in any state over the previous two years that was subject to background and/or credit checks without being properly informed, as well as every New Jersey resident who applied to Michaels over the previous six-year time period and was put through the same types of background checks.
There is no indication that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is involved in Graham’s lawsuit.
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Posted in Department of Labor, employment
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics news release, the United States’ rate of unemployment dropped to 5.6 percent in December, down from 5.8 percent in November. An estimated 8.7 million people remain unemployed, though the number of unemployed people declined by 383,000 between November and December. The Bureau’s demographic information showed that it was adult women that saw the biggest surge in employment opportunities in December.
Employment for the other demographics remained stable compared to previous months. The number of people who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks also stayed about the same, as did the number of people who worked part-time jobs because of a lack of full-time opportunities.
However, December saw 252,000 new jobs added, primarily in professional and business services, construction, and food and beverage places. Overall, 2014 saw an average of 246,000 jobs added per month, while 2013 only averaged 194,000 jobs per month.
In professional services, 52,000 new jobs were added in December. Though there was actually a decline in the number of accounting and bookkeeping jobs available last month, the bulk of the new job opportunities were in administrative and waste services.
Construction likewise saw a strong finish to the year, with 48,000 new jobs in December. Most of those positions were specialty trade contractors, though civil engineering construction and commercial building also saw decent results (12,000 and 10,000 new jobs, respectively).
Food service saw 44,000 jobs added, up from the previous monthly average of 30,000 jobs. Health care services also saw 34,000 new jobs, primarily in ambulatory services. The manufacturing, financial and wholesale trading industries continued to trend upward as well, while government, mining, transportation, information and retail sectors remained steady for the close of the year.
Posted in background checks, criminal background checks, school background checks
Starting this month, Pennsylvania schools have some new rules in place to protect children from potential abuse. But some are concerned that the state’s new background check law is inconsistent and leaves school districts to attempt to navigate a tricky situation.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed a law that was a combination of 23 previous child-protective-service bills, in which all school volunteers that have contact with children must undergo three types of background checks: child abuse checks, state police checks and FBI fingerprint criminal background checks. (If a volunteer has been a resident of the state for at least 10 years and signs a document saying they have not been convicted of crimes in other states, the FBI check may be waived.)
However, the law does not specify a distinction between volunteers and visitors, leaving that up to the school districts to interpret. Is a one-time volunteer considered a visitor? Do parents who help out with their children’s birthday parties but do not otherwise spend time at the school need to undergo background checks to get into the classroom?
Not only that, not all school districts may interpret the law the same way when it comes to visitor vs. volunteer, and the way a district interprets the law may be different than how attorneys for the state would. Some are concerned about the inconsistencies, saying that it is too open to interpretation, while others are concerned that the cost of completing background checks may discourage much-needed volunteers from helping out at schools or other non-profits in which adults interact with children. (The background checks would cost $48.75, and must be repeated every three years.)
The law only indicates that anyone “responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children” must undergo the three types of background checks.
Posted in background checking, background screening, criminal background checks, EEOC, pre-employment background screening
In October, we published a post about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s current battles with BMW Manufacturing and Dollar General, in which the two companies requested that the government organization share its own policies for conducting EEOC criminal background checks. The EEOC refused, arguing that its own policies have nothing to do with either of the lawsuits that had been filed.
The lawsuits against BMW and Dollar General were brought because the EEOC argued that the companies’ criminal background checking policies disproportionally screened out black candidates, a violation of the Civil Rights Act.
However, after the Commission refused to share its policies for EEOC criminal background checks in the BMW Manufacturing case, a magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court in South Carolina has demanded that the EEOC turn over its background checking policies in order to continue the case.
The EEOC will have to provide to the court any and all documents that refer to or contain information related to “any policy, guideline, standard, or practice utilized by the EEOC in assessing the criminal conviction record of applicants for employment with the EEOC.”
The court ruled that BMW Manufacturing “is entitled” to these documents before the EEOC may proceed with its case against the auto manufacturer. The court for the Dollar General case has not yet made a ruling as to whether or not it will require the EEOC criminal background checks documentation or policies for that case as well.
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Posted in background check process, background checks, criminal background checks, identity theft, motor vehicle record check, public service
Back in May, ride-sharing service Uber introduced a “safe ride fee” of $1 per ride, intended to go toward improving safety for riders and pedestrians through driver background checks and drug screening.
Two California residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against Uber regarding that safe-ride fee. This suit is just one more thing in light of continued problems for the company, not only in the U.S., but also in North Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Spain, Brazil and India. These problems include questions about driver licensing and insurance, alleged assaults, and violations of other countries’ transportation laws.
In their suit, the San Francisco residents argue that Uber’s safe-ride fee is unfair and deceptive, as driver background checks have been inconsistent at best. The suit describes Uber’s safety measures and background checks as “woefully inadequate,” and would order Uber to repay any funds that it profited illegally.
Meanwhile, District Attorneys from Los Angeles and San Francisco have filed their own lawsuit against Uber for its background checking process. That suit is regarding the company’s lack of fingerprint background checking, allowing drivers to potentially pass background checks by using the identity of someone with a clean driving or criminal record.
The district attorneys are also calling fraud regarding the “airport fee toll” Uber charges passengers, despite its drivers not paying tolls when taking passengers to or from the airport.
Despite these suits, Uber will be allowed to continue operating. The company was recently valued at $40 billion.
Posted in babysitter, background investigations, criminal background checks, NAPBS, pre-employment background checks, pre-employment background screening
In an editorial published late last year, two State Representatives made commitments to their constituents to keep children in schools and daycares safe from child predators. In their editorial, Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers and California Rep. Adam B. Schiff stated that all volunteers and potential hires working in these types of positions should be screened through the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. Rogers and Schiff described the FBI fingerprint database as “the most robust criminal background check [system] available” and wrote “a state background check alone is no match for the FBI’s fingerprint-based system.”
However, a few weeks later, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners released its own editorial, praising Rogers and Schiff for their motive, but debunking the theory that the FBI’s database is a “gold standard” for background checks.
In that piece, NAPBS Executive Director Melissa Sorenson clarifies that pop culture often muddies information about what the FBI database can actually provide. She writes that the FBI’s fingerprint database was not meant for use during employment screening, and that it lacks information on many major criminal infractions — as well as sex offender information — because counties are not always consistent about reporting that information to state police, and states lack consistency in federal reporting as well.
Sorenson also says there is “no single source that provides all the information necessary for an accurate background screen.” FBI information may certainly be taken into consideration during the process, but legitimate background screening companies will always utilize multiple primary and secondary sources when conducting background checks to ensure information that is accurate and complete.
This is why it’s important to utilize a background screening service such as Mind Your Business when you’re looking into a potential employee, tenant or caretaker’s history: just one database isn’t enough to provide a complete picture of the candidate’s background.
To learn more about background checks and how MYB can give you peace of mind, contact us today.
Posted in background checks, ban the box, credit checks in employment, criminal background check, criminal record, employment background screening
In mid-December, the New York City Council introduced a proposal for the city’s own ban-the-box laws, just months after it introduced a bill that would prevent city employers from using credit checks against job candidates. (That bill is still being debated.)
Over the previous years, employers in the state have not been able to refuse to hire a potential employee based on his or her criminal record unless an extensive analysis concluded that the criminal offense would directly affect the candidate’s ability to complete the job description, according to New York Correction Law. The new ban-the-box directive expands on that even further.
Under the new proposal, New York City employers would have to remove the “criminal history” question on any job applications. Employers would also not be able to conduct background checks of any type until a conditional employment offer had been extended to that candidate.
Even then — if this bill is passed — once background checks had been conducted, employers may not revoke a job offer if the candidate was convicted of a felony more than 10 years ago or convicted of a misdemeanor more than five years ago, even if the charge was related to something in the job description for the position the candidate is being offered.
This bill is one of the strictest pieces of ban-the-box legislation in the country for employers, and would provide former convicts with the greatest opportunity to re-enter the work force. It will be interesting to see if — or how — the bill transforms during the legislative process, and how the law will be applied.
Posted in employment, Federal law
In December, the Supreme Court overturned a previous decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding whether employers are required to pay employees and contractors for the time they spend in security prior to or following their working shift. The Supreme Court stated that employers do not have to compensate employees for their time in security, because the checkpoints are not related to the “principal activities” that the job entails.
The suit was brought against Amazon’s Integrity Staffing Solutions screening company after the book behemoth’s warehouse workers were required to stand and wait in lines to be screened before leaving at the end of their shifts. Amazon utilizes these security measures to prevent loss through employee theft. The Ninth Circuit Court previously ruled in favor of the employees because the security screening was mandatory and “for the benefit of the employer.”
However, the Supreme Court overruled this decision, and determined that because the security checkpoints were not a part of the employees’ “principal” job descriptions — that is, if the employee, hypothetically, did not go through a security screening, it would not affect his or her ability to complete job duties — and therefore screenings should be considered “preliminary” or “postliminary” activities. It ruled that employees and contractors must only be compensated for “principal activities” such as those outlined in their job descriptions.
The Court also ruled in favor of Integrity Staffing Solutions because the time spent screening employees could be “conceivably reduce[d].” However, work-related preliminary and postliminary activities, such as preparing tools and equipment or putting on specialized work gear, are considered “integral and indispensable” to the “principal activities,” and therefore must be compensated.
The Supreme Court’s decision was unanimous.
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Posted in employment, Federal law
In late November, President Obama signed an Executive Order to try to help fix the immigration system in the United States. That order is expected to go into effect around mid-March 2015. In that Order, Obama has stated intentions to reduce illegal immigration along the U.S. border, and streamline the legalization process so that long-time resident immigrants will be able to obtain documentation that would allow them to work legally in the United States.
The goal of the Order is to “make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy.”
Because of the potentially changing statuses of immigrants that have lived in the U.S. for a long period of time, employers should be aware of the ways in which their businesses could be affected by the Executive Order.
There will be an increase in people available to work in the job force.
Under the Executive Order, as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants will be able to receive work authorization, so long as the person emigrated to the United States before the age of 16, or is the parent of a U.S. citizen.
There will be updates to the visa process.
The means of streamlining the work visa process has not been finalized yet, and the governing agencies are still determining whether every member of immigrant families must have their own work visa, or if a single visa should cover an entire nuclear family. Those who have not been able to receive a visa number to date will have the option of receiving authorization for travel or employment with an I-140 petition.
There will be more options for practical training.
Workers in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) will have expanded access to training programs that can help them improve their skills and potentially lead to improved job options and/or higher positions within their current workplace. Under previous immigration law, this training was only available to those who had college degrees in those fields, and they were only allowed to access this training for a limited time after graduation.
Keep an eye out for changes to the immigration system over the next few months as Obama and Congress continue to look for ways to improve our current system.
Posted in employment, Federal law
In early December, the Supreme Court began listening to arguments regarding whether employers should be required to include pregnancy in their coverage for short-term disabilities.
The case was brought by Peggy Young, a Maryland woman who had been working as a UPS driver for four years, but lost her job when she became pregnant. Prior to her termination, she received a doctor’s note that said she should not lift more than 20 pounds during the course of her work, and was told by UPS that they could not give her alternative “light duty” work. However, during Young’s normal day-to-day work, she rarely needed to lift over 20 pounds, and co-workers were always available to assist her with heavy lifting if necessary.
The last time the Supreme Court heard a case like this was in 1976, and its ruling was that employers had the right to not include pregnancy in their disability policies, without it being considered gender discrimination.
However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission now protects against pregnancy discrimination in the “hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions … and any other term or condition of employment.” This is based on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was passed in 1978; likewise, certain conditions brought on by pregnancy may also be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which has been interpreted in the past to include pregnancy as a temporary disability.
Lawyers for UPS intend to use the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in their argument, as UPS’ general policy is not to make accommodations for disabilities that do not occur at the workplace, and therefore is not specifically discriminating against Young for being pregnant, but rather, terminated her for not being able to fulfill the duties of her job description. However, UPS did change its policy on pregnancy accommodations in light of Young’s case going to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, Young’s attorney says that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is intended to ensure that pregnant women are given the same opportunities as other workers who are temporarily unable to fulfill job descriptions, as in the case of other UPS drivers who had their licenses suspended temporarily.
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