Posted in background checks, criminal background checks, criminal record, employment checks, pre-employment background screening
Many retail stores are already busting out the holiday music and cheery decór, and retailers and organizations are already going about hiring holiday helpers. While any business would do well to screen its holiday help — after all, businesses are more likely to be robbed by employees than shoplifters — it’s a different story altogether when you’re hiring someone to play Santa.
Because Mr. Claus and his elves are likely to be around children for the entirety of their roles, it’s best for their employer and the visiting families if these jolly bastions of Christmas cheer undergo proper screening, whether that means a full criminal background check, or simply checking their names (just the once will do) against the sex offender registry.
However, parents need to keep in mind that not all venues and locations require the same types of background checks, as the law varies by state and region. Some parents aren’t so worried about whether or not Santa has been screened, as they plan to be present with their children while visiting Kris Kringle. Other parents believe it’s a good thing for Santa’s status to be checked for their own peace of mind.
A library in Louisiana was simply trying to comply with state law when it asked if long-time volunteer and jolly Santa look-alike Russ Wise was a sex offender. The law states that no child sex offenders are allowed on library property, but Wise was offended that, after years of active service in his community, as Santa and in various other community positions, his character was being brought into question.
“I’m not arguing against the law,” Wise said. “I am not arguing against the reasoning behind the law. My own position is: I am philosophically opposed to having to prove I’m innocent.”
Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the law, it still must be upheld for the safety of all participants. Neither Wise nor any other local volunteers are forced to undergo background checks, but because of his lack of compliance, he will not be playing Santa at his local library this year.
Posted in background checking, employers check references, pre-employment background checks, reference check, social media background checks
It’s no surprise when employers and social media mix during the hiring process, as employers often want to get an accurate idea of a prospective employee beyond the glossy resume and carefully culled reference list.
LinkedIn provides a service, “Reference Search,” to help those employers that are premium account holders, by providing lists of individuals that may have worked with the prospective employee.
Reference Search, in theory, sounds like a good idea. According to LinkedIn, Reference Search “locates people in your network who can provide reliable feedback about a job candidate or business prospect.” The site provides this information by populating a list of individuals that have worked at the same company during the same time period as the candidate in question.
However, four individuals are suing the professional social network, claiming they were passed over on jobs due to the references that LinkedIn suggested, enabling prospective employers to make hiring decisions without ensuring the information the social network provided was correct. Because the listed individuals do not have to be “connections” of the candidate, there is no guarantee that the references LinkedIn culls have any relationship whatsoever to the prospect.
In Sweet vs. LinkedIn, those four individuals are claiming that LinkedIn has violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act with its Reference Search tool. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employers must get permission to run background checks, and must verify with the candidate that any information provided in a consumer report that may be used against them is accurate. The FCRA was written at a time in which social media did not exist, and so employers and social media were not a consideration.
In an interview last week, Federal Trade Commission member Julie Brill, who is not involved in the lawsuit, said, “We have made clear that the FCRA applies to services offered over the Internet and mobile apps.”
LinkedIn doesn’t see this combination of employers and social media as a problem, though, as all information that a company or recruiter could use in the hiring process is available through user-provided content, which users consent to let the social network “use … distribute, publish and process” through its user agreement. LinkedIn spokesman Joseph Roualdes said the professional network intends to fight the lawsuit, as it believes its charges are baseless.
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Posted in drug screening, EEOC, Federal law
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed two separate lawsuits in October, both of which are for alleged discrimination against employees with disabilities. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses must provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees and applicants, and businesses may not discriminate against those with disabilities during the hiring process.
Suits were filed against FedEx Ground in North Carolina, as well as a Wal-Mart in Maryland, for alleged violations to the ADA.
In the case of FedEx Ground, the EEOC claims that reasonable accommodations were not made for employees that are deaf or hard-of-hearing, as employees were not provided with a sign-language interpreter or closed captions during training materials and videos. The EEOC also claims that alternative safety equipment — that which uses flashing lights or vibrations instead of beeps or other sounds — was not provided to these employees.
A FedEx spokesperson denied these allegations, which were made after a mandatory EEOC tour of the package-sorting facility. “FedEx Ground is committed to fair and equal treatment of all employees and believes the claims made by the EEOC are misleading and not founded in law,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart provided a vague defense for its actions when it withdrew a job offer for a sales associate that could not submit to a urine drug test due to late-stage renal cancer. The prospective employee offered to submit to a different type of drug test, such as a blood test, and was told that Wal-Mart’s corporate office would not agree to a different test. The job offer was withdrawn when urine test results were not available within 24 hours of the job offer.
The EEOC filed suit against the store, and Wal-Mart agreed to pay the applicant $72,500, as well as train that store’s managers on accommodating applicants with disabilities.
Similar suits have also been filed against a Maryland Kmart and a Texas rehabilitation center for not making reasonable drug-testing accommodations for those with renal cancer.
Posted in background investigations, criminal background check, employment background screening, false resume information, pre-employment background checks
A new study by U.K. background-screening firm HireRight shares some scary statistics. In interviews with 140 human resources representatives, all of whom are employed by companies with more than 5,000 employees, researchers found that it is quite common for executive-level employees to undergo fewer background checks and screening processes than the typical entry-level, college graduate applicant.
“[C]ompanies are putting the reputation of their entire business at risk by not carrying out suitable levels of due diligence on their board members, who clearly pose a significantly greater threat than graduates,” said Steve Girdler, HireRight UK’s managing director.
According to the study, 45 percent of the HR representatives know of businesses where CEOs are subject to fewer interviews and checks than entry-level applicants, though only 37 percent will admit this is the case at their own place of employment. In addition, 66 percent of companies are not consistent in their screening of executives.
Considering that a CEO can be guilty of resume fraud just as easily as a mailroom clerk, it would do business owners well to ensure that every member of the organization has passed basic background checks.
Unfortunately, 49 percent of the HR representatives said they assume that those applying for senior positions have not lied on their resumes, and therefore almost a third of CEOs do not undergo any type of screening when appointed to their position. When background checks are conducted, HR finds discrepancies approximately 36 percent of the time.
That’s something to be concerned about, as executive-level employees have so much power over a company’s day-to-day operations. It can be extremely damaging to a business to find that a senior-level executive lied his or her way into the role, especially if they are engaging in illegal behavior while in that role.
Though this study was conducted in the United Kingdom, it is probable that similar results could be found upon studying similar businesses in the United States. If you are a business owner, make sure that your company has background-screening policies in place, and ensure consistency for all prospects, from entry-level on up. It can save your business and reputation damage in the future with a little bit of attention right now.
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Posted in employment
According to a news release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were plenty of new jobs available in October, and the unemployment rate slid down another 0.1 percent from September, to 5.8 percent for the month. This decrease means that only 9 million Americans are currently unemployed, down from 9.6 million people that were unemployed in August. (The number of people who are considered long-term unemployed remained consistent at 2.9 million individuals, as did the number of people working part time due to the economy, at 7 million individuals.)
More than 214,000 new non-farm jobs were added in October, just a very slight dip from the previous monthly average of 222,000 jobs. October’s new jobs were spread across several industries.
The food and beverage industry added a whopping 42,000 jobs, up significantly from its previous monthly average of 26,000 jobs. Professional and business services saw an increase of 37,000 jobs, especially in temporary services and computer systems (15,000 jobs and 7,000 jobs, respectively).
The healthcare market saw 25,000 new jobs added, with more than 75 percent of them being in ambulatory services; retail sales saw 27,000 new jobs, with just about half of them being general merchandise stores.
The manufacturing, transportation and construction sectors also saw small increases (between 12,000 and 15,000 jobs each), while the government, mining, information and financial markets saw little change from last month.
In addition to the jobs that have been created, 2014 has seen a 2 percent increase in the average hourly wage for non-farm private workers, bringing the total up 3 cents, to $24.57 per hour.
Posted in background checks, criminal background checks, nursing homes
There have been several recent stories regarding the negligent retention of caregivers who have taken advantage of their elderly clients’ finances, stealing thousands of dollars from them before being caught.
Take for instance, the Utah caregiver that stole $140,000 from her 86-year-old client — after being trusted to pay bills on the senior man’s behalf — by writing herself checks and forging his signature. Or the California caregiver who asked her 80-year-old client, a dementia patient, if she could borrow $100 day after day for more than three months, before the client’s family became aware of what was happening. And of course, the Florida caregiver who forged checks and conned her client out of more than $928,000 over a two-year period.
According to the Utah Department of Human Services, up to 5 million elderly adults are exploited every year. If the families realized they were responsible for the negligent retention of a thieving caregiver, these and many other victims could have avoided having their life savings eradicated.
To prevent your loved ones from suffering similar fates:
- Hire a caregiver from a certified government or private agency that specializes in senior care. Ensure that both the individual and the agency have the proper licenses and certifications, and that the agency requires background checks to be run on all employees, to avoid negligent retention.
- If you choose to hire someone outside an agency based on a personal recommendation, conduct your own background checks, or hire a service to do so for you. You’ll want a basic criminal background check at minimum; a credit check couldn’t hurt either.
- Communicate with your family, and with the caregiver. If your family member is cognizant, see how they feel about the person spending time in their home. In addition, specify to the caregiver what his or her duties should be, including whether they will be responsible for cleaning, cooking or other tasks.
- Avoid putting the elderly in situations where they may allow their caregivers to control their finances. Insist that your family member should not give caregivers access to any bank accounts.
Be aware of what’s happening in your family members’ home, and keep communication lines open, and you’ll have a better chance at avoiding theft due to negligent retention.
To learn more about conducting background checks on potential caregivers, contact Mind Your Business today.
Posted in background check, background investigations, education checks, reference check, student background checks
It is becoming more and more common for higher education programs and schools to conduct background checks on its applicants. However, unlike schools that want to confirm students’ criminal histories, these business school programs are more interested in whether its applicants are being honest on their applications.
Depending on the school or MBA program, employment and education verification may be required. Some schools require every student to undergo screening, while others select students at random for verification. Still others only choose to screen those who have discrepancies in their applications. The main thing the schools seem to be looking for is honesty within the application, and so they often seek to confirm the candidates’ previous employment histories and previous education (including grades and graduation status), as well as criminal history.
In addition, with a thorough background investigation, schools may choose to verify applicants’ references, extracurricular activities, and achievements. It has already become standard practice for many schools to put application essays through anti-plagiarism software to ensure that potential students are not seeking to cheat the school, or themselves.
Several MBA programs — including those at Stanford, New York University, University of Pennsylvania and Columbia — have already instituted background-checking policies. It is expected that more schools will follow their lead. Typically, screening processes happen during the admissions process, though it may take time to complete. Should the school determine that a student has lied in the application, it can still revoke a student’s admission after classes have begun.
However, if potential students are open and honest about the things on their applications, they are less likely to be screened out due to discrepancies on their documents. Provided candidates do not lie or exaggerate their education or work experience, omit details such as being convicted of a crime or fired from a previous job, or plagiarize entry essays, it’s unlikely that students should encounter any issues with the screening.
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Posted in EEOC, Federal law
A few weeks ago, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shattered expectations when it took on two employment discrimination cases on behalf of two transgender individuals. The EEOC is suing Lakeland Eye Clinic in Florida on behalf of Brandi Branson, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Home in Michigan on behalf of Amiee Stephens, both of whom were fired from their jobs when their employers discovered that they were transgender individuals that were in the process of transitioning from male to female.
The EEOC has taken on these cases not long after the Department of Labor determined that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should protect and encompass transgender individuals. Previously, the EEOC stated in its suit Macy v. Holder that “discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity is sex discrimination, and thus constitutes a violation [of Title VII].”
Stephens’ and Branson’s are the first transgender discrimination cases that the EEOC has taken on. However, a study by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force shows that a full 90 percent of transgendered individuals have experienced discrimination or harassment at work because of their gender identity, and 47 percent reported to have been fired or overlooked for promotions because of gender non-conformation.
Many of these cases are never reported or prosecuted, which makes Branson and Stephens’ cases turning-points for gender-identity discrimination; it shows that the U.S. government agencies stand behind them in stating that discriminating against transgendered individuals is not acceptable, and will not be tolerated.
“The issue of coverage for transgender individuals was a question that needed further development as a community that’s been subjected to severe and pervasive discrimination,” Florida EEOC regional attorney Robert Weisberg said in a statement. “We hope that this complaint and this litigation serves as an educational opportunity for the public, for employers at large and for other individuals that may be discriminated against.”
Posted in employment, social media background checks
With the help of a Harris poll, CareerBuilder.com has released this year’s list of “The Most Unbelievable Excuses for Calling in Sick.” The job-search site has been compiling the best and craziest excuses from U.S. workers for the past decade.
Would you tell your boss that you couldn’t make it to the office because you “woke up in a good mood and didn’t want to ruin it”? Would your supervisor believe you if you said you “got stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store”?
While 28 percent of employees took sick leave over the past 12 months, even if they were feeling fine, more than half of U.S. employees do not have programs in their workplace for paid time off, for either personal or sick days. (It’s not federal law that employers must provide paid sick days for employees.) Of those who do accrue paid time off, 23 percent of them still feel like they need to make up an excuse for taking a day off, and that’s where those ridiculous excuses come into play. (How do you “accidentally get on a plane”?!)
While the excuses are funny — you should check out the full list — be cautious when making up excuses to call in sick at your own job. According to the report, eighteen percent of employers have fired employees who made up fake excuses, and many will literally check up on you, by requesting a doctor’s note, checking your Facebook or Twitter feeds, or even driving by your home to make sure you aren’t faking an illness in order to do other things. (The most common reasons to take leave, besides actually being ill, are to spend time with friends or family, to go to scheduled doctors’ appointments, or simply not feeling like going to work.)
Some cities and states have begun implementing their own leave policies in order to provide employees with adequate sick leave or personal days, and some companies have taken their leave policies a little further, and have actually implemented policies in which there is no limit to the amount of paid days off an employee can take.
Virgin Airlines, taking a cue from Netflix, recently implemented a “policy-that-isn’t” in which full-time office staff are allowed to take “unlimited leave,” where salaried employees make take “whenever they want for as long as they want,” without having to ask for permission, so long as they are up-to-date on their work and the absence won’t adversely affect the company.
Employment experts are not convinced this is the best solution for the country’s lack of paid time off, as they worry that employees without any kind of guidelines will still feel they need to work.
“Some roles will always have work to do so they feel like they can’t take this leave,” said Kathryn Dent, the director of People + Culture Strategies, a workplace law consulting company. “Many people may feel too nervous to go on leave, and it will come down to a matter of trust between the employee and employer.”
Bottom line: Honesty is the best policy. If you lie about something as innocuous as a sick day, your boss may question what else you’re willing to lie about. And if you really need a legitimate excuse, saying that you’re not feeling well still works just fine.
photo credit: anna gutermuth via photopin cc
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, drug testing policy, drugs in the workplace, employee drug screening, prescription drugs
Recently, the Georgia Council on Alcohol and Drugs hosted an event called “Drugs Don’t Work” in an attempt to discourage illegal drug usage in the workplace, particularly because 70 percent of the state’s illegal drug users can be found among its employed. The most commonly abused drugs? Prescription medications.
The Council is now providing incentives for businesses that implement drug-testing policies, as well as discouraging substance abuse by requiring that drug tests turn up clean in order for employees to maintain their jobs.
If Georgia businesses implement drug-testing policies — as well as programs educating and training employees about drug use and abuse, and counseling referral programs — they may be certified by the Council to receive a 7.5 percent discount on their Worker’s Compensation insurance.
This discount would be beneficial in more than one way; employers would not only pay less for the insurance, but by implementing education programs, they have a smaller chance of actually having to pay out Worker’s Compensation, as it is likely that sober employees, and those around them, would be at less risk for workplace accidents.
According to the Council, there is no one particular occupation or demographic that is most highly affected by drug use in the workforce, and that drug abuse can happen in any job.
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