Posted in background screening, criminal background checks, pre-employment background screening
A Chippewa Falls, Wis., mental health care facility was discovered to have a convicted sex offender in its employ, five months after the man had begun working at the facility as an environmental services coordinator. Lake Hallie Memory Care had hired the offender in April 2013 before a criminal background check had returned results. His results did not come back until September 2013, when he was fired due to his previous conviction. Due to negligent hiring practices, as well as other Wisconsin Department of Health Services violations, the facility has been banned from bringing in any new patients until they’ve addressed the issues.
In addition to finding two other employees that had not passed background checks, state inspectors discovered two uniform licensing violations and 26 violations of facility rules as required by the state department, including violating residents’ right to privacy and not properly training employees. Lake Hallie Memory Care was fined more than $30,000 for these violations.
Investing time and money in background checks for potential employees — as well as giving the proper attention and care to current workers — can help prevent incidents like this one from happening to your business. Here are some ways that you can avoid negligent hiring and retention in the future.
Conduct background checks.
This is especially important when you’re hiring candidates who will be working with children and the elderly, or anyone who will be in a caretaker position. A criminal history check can prevent negligent hiring by making sure that caregivers do not have felony records, or multiple arrests for similar charges (even if no conviction was reached).
Make sure you get the results before making hiring decisions.
In many cases, negligent hiring — and subsequent fines and delays — could have been avoided by simply waiting until background checks had been completed before making any hiring decisions. Just because a candidate looks great on paper doesn’t mean they’re above suspicion. Remember, people still do commit resume fraud and will avoid disclosing criminal convictions.
Invest in your employees.
Once you’ve made a hiring decision, have your HR department provide employees with the training necessary to succeed at their jobs. Investing time into your employees’ training and their job requirements may cost you a little in the short run, but can end up saving you big bucks over time. Lack of training can be just as harmful to your business as negligent hiring.
Contact Mind Your Business for more information about caregiver background checks.
photo credit: Rosie O’Beirne via photopin cc
Posted in employment
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate held steady at 6.7 percent in March, with 10.5 million people still unemployed. Improved job options became available in health care, professional and business services, and food and beverage services. Overall industry increases accounted for 192,000 new, non-farm jobs.
- Professional and business services grew by 57,000 jobs, steady with its previous monthly average. This includes jobs in temporary help, architectural and engineering services, and computer systems design and related service.
- March saw 30,000 new food and beverage service jobs added. More than 300,000 jobs have been added in this industry in the past 12 months.
- Health care added 19,000 jobs in March, with increases in home health care and ambulatory health care. Meanwhile, nursing care facilities lost workers.
- Construction employment increased by 19,000 jobs, totaling increases of more than 150,000 jobs over the past 12 months.
- Mining and logging saw an increase of 7,000 jobs, most of them in fields related to mining. Their monthly average increase for the previous year was only 3,000 jobs.
Many other industries saw little change from February.
- The federal government saw a loss of 9,000 jobs, but many of those have been picked up in local or state governments. This does not include any jobs in public education.
- The manufacturing, retail, transportation, information and financial activities industries remained steady, with no significant job losses or gains.
Employees also saw a very slight increase in the average workweek in private, non-farming positions. The workweek was extended approximately 12 minutes, working out to about 34.5 hours per week.
Posted in ban the box, criminal background checks, criminal record, pre-employment background checks
In a 26-0 vote, the Louisville Metro Council has approved legislation that will make Louisville, Ky., the latest to ban the box. Louisville joins cities such as Charlotte, N.C., San Francisco, and Seattle, as well as states including Rhode Island and California in their efforts against discrimination. This movement prevents employers from immediately disqualifying applicants with criminal histories.
The city was already in the habit of not asking applicants about felony records, but Mayor Greg Fischer has now made the “compassionate legislation” into law. Louisville’s city government, vendors and contractors will no longer include questions about employee criminal history on their job applications, giving convicts a fair chance at jobs they previously might have been disqualified from.
A candidate may still choose to disclose his or her criminal record during the point in the pre-employment process when a background check is likely to take place. Then, it is on the employer to consider the position the candidate is up for, and whether or not the specific crime will affect the candidate’s ability to do the job well. The employer should also take into consideration the candidate’s age at the time of the offense, how much time has elapsed since conviction, his or her parole or probation status, and if any rehabilitation efforts have been undertaken.
It is estimated that this measure will help the approximately 160,000 people in the area that have a criminal record to be considered for jobs beyond the application stage, now that they have paid their debt to society.
Image courtesy of phasinphoto/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Posted in Department of Labor, Federal law
On “Equal Pay Day,” which took place on April 8, President Obama issued two executive orders that will attempt to close the pay gap for women and minorities.
Obama’s first order was that federal contractors would not be allowed to retaliate against their employees for discussing compensation. The second order stated that the U.S. Department of Labor should regulate and require federal contractors to provide data on their employees’ compensation.
“Equal Pay Day” is meant to bring attention to the fact that women and minorities are often paid less to do the same jobs as their white, male counterparts. Female White House staffers currently only earn 88 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts earn.
By allowing employees to discuss their compensation, contractors will be able to better detect discriminatory hiring behavior. President Obama noted that as contractors provide that information about employee pay to the Department of Labor, they will be better able to note discriminatory practices and therefore can make efforts to close the pay gap. He encouraged the Department of Labor to minimize the burden on federal contractors, as possible.
There is concern that these executive orders do little to actually close the wage gap, since the National Labor Relations Board has previously agreed that both union and non-union employees have the right to discuss compensation without fear of losing their jobs or other forms of retaliation. However, the executive order does expand this protection to cover federal employees, including those who work for airlines and railroads, who may not have been previously covered by the NLRB sanctions.
The Department of Labor has 160 days to implement these executive orders, and 120 days to propose regulations on how federal contractors should report compensation data, including breaking down summary reports by gender and race.
photo credit: taih via photopin cc
Posted in EEOC, Facebook background checks, social media background checks
Social media sites are a great resource when you’re looking to recruit new hires. However, there is concern that the information one can glean from social media sites — such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, to name a few — can cause discriminatory actions to take place, such as a qualified candidate being passed over due to age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) met in March to determine how social media’s prevalence impacts anti-discrimination laws, which the EEOC enforces. The EEOC understands that, now more than ever, social media is prevalent in the workplace and has become a great tool for recruiting, while also being rife with discrimination pitfalls. Here are some ways employers and social media can peacefully coexist, without your business risking a discrimination lawsuit.
Use social media to keep employees informed.
Social media is first and foremost a way to share information, and your business is welcome to do so. Utilizing a business Facebook page, Pinterest account, Twitter handle or blog allows employers and social media to interact by sharing company information, industry trends, new products or services, and other news with both customers and staff without treading on any discrimination laws.
Utilize an impartial third party.
When conducting social media checks on a potential candidate, ask an employee that is not involved in the hiring decision to discern factors that you want or do not want in a potential employee. Also, utilize only the information that the candidate has made publicly available, and do not request passwords. (Four states already have laws about employers and social media usernames or passwords, and several others have litigation pending.)
Keep your HR department aware of online harassment.
Harassment can include comments or actions that relate to one’s race, age, sexual orientation, gender and ethnicity, and should not be tolerated in the workplace. However, just because it happens outside the workplace does not mean that an employee’s misconduct toward a co-worker is not the responsibility of the company. Online interactions between employees should always be appropriate, even during non-work hours. Include a note in your company’s handbook that any harassment, whether it takes place online or in person, should be reported to Human Resources.
For more information about ways to avoid EEOC lawsuits over social media issues, contact Mind Your Business today.
photo credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc
Posted in criminal background check
The U.S. Department of Defense has announced that they will begin the implementation of random background checks for department personnel who hold security clearances. The department previously has only run background checks prior to hiring, and when security clearances must be renewed; this can mean that a significant length of time — up to 10 years — can pass between each screening.
According to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, conducting random checks will allow the department to be alerted to information such as an employee’s recent arrest, which they may not find out about otherwise.
The changes come less than a year after 12 people were killed in a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. The shooter, Aaron Alexis, held a security clearance, and commanders failed to report incidences of “disturbing behavior.” There is question whether, had Alexis undergone more frequent scrutiny, the tragedy could have been avoided.
The Office of Management and Budget specified that the random employee criminal history checks should be done by priority of the position each employee maintains. The Department of Defense will also take into account suggestions from an independent review, including suggestions that background checks should be conducted internally and that the number of people holding security clearances should be reduced by 10 percent. The latter opinion is because the number of security clearances approved each year has tripled over the last 13 years.
Hagel said the Department will also be creating a Defense Insider Threat Management and Analysis Center to look into internal threats.
Posted in background check, background legislation, EEOC
New discrimination lawsuits filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may be causing some employers to re-consider their own pre-employment background screening practices in hopes of avoiding similar lawsuits. There has been concern about employers’ ability to conduct background checks while complying with the EEOC’s anti-discrimination laws; their Strategic Enforcement Plan was revised and re-released in 2012. In 2013, the EEOC filed 131 lawsuits, including suits against Dollar General and BMW.
“We have an obligation to move beyond the ‘safe’ cases, and to identify and address less familiar discriminatory barriers emerging from changes in the economy, technology and demographics,” said P. David Lopez, the EEOC’s General Counsel.
In 2013, the EEOC filed several lawsuits against employers who conducted background checks, claiming they were discriminatory because pre-employment background screening unfairly targets black and Hispanic males with criminal records.
Pre-employment background screening is still important to the safety and effectiveness of your business, and you should continue to utilize checks during the hiring process. Consider the guidelines for smart screening practices below.
- A criminal history should not immediately eliminate a candidate from consideration (keeping in mind that schools and care facilities must comply with additional laws for hiring practices). Each candidate should be considered based on the position he or she is applying for; for non-violent crimes, criminal history should only be a factor if the previous offense(s) are related to the position for which the candidate is applying. The number of offenses committed, post-conviction employment history, and attempts to rehabilitate should all be taken into account.
- Ensure policies are in place — and in writing — for fair hiring practices. While you shouldn’t say that anyone with an arrest record is disqualified, you may say, for example, that if any applicant is dishonest on an application, the applicant will be immediately disqualified. Avoid discriminatory language.
- Avoid conducting credit reports or reviews on every candidate; limit it to candidates applying for positions in which purchasing power or knowledge of financial information is required for the position.
- Ensure you comply with all state and federal regulations in addition to the ones set out by the EEOC. The best way to ensure compliance is to hire a certified pre-employment background screening company that has kept up with the law and knows how to keep your company safe from litigation.
For more information about how to avoid lawsuits over your screening practices, contact Mind Your Business.
Posted in drug screening
Because marijuana use can turn up on drug tests, some have turned to the use of a synthetic version of the drug in order to keep usage under wraps. The synthetic version of the drug, which is called “Spice,” utilizes different chemical compounds than marijuana, but has a similar effect on the brain as non-synthetic cannabis. It is also harder for drug tests to detect. Two researchers at the Air Force Academy hope to change that.
Air Force Academy professor Dr. Timm Knoerzer and senior cadet Jacob Krimbill have been working to create a method of detecting Spice, by re-creating the body’s metabolic processes and determining what the drug’s chemical compounds would look like after absorption. To do this, the two had to “boil down” Spice into its purest form and use laboratory space to re-create the effects of human bodily systems.
“It’s like chemical Legos,” said Knoerzer, who has a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical chemistry.
Airmen are more likely to use the synthetic version to prevent drug tests from turning up positive. If Knoerzer and Krimbill succeed in their efforts, drug tests will be able to determine the presence of Spice in the body, even weeks after the fact. Their research may also lead to more knowledge of how chemistry can work in unison with the body.
The two continue to work on research, subjecting their samples to a variety of tests to ensure they’re heading in the right direction. The Air Force Academy’s student-run research work is a point of pride for the campus, and many similar research projects have received federal funding.
Posted in Mind Your Business, MYB, NAPBS
Mind Your Business will be attending this weekend’s 2014 National Association of Professional Background Screeners’ Mid-Year Legislative and Regulatory Conference. The conference will take place in Arlington, Virginia, from April 6-8. The event will include speakers and breakout sessions, an exhibit showcase, and opportunities to work with legislators on screening policy.
Mind Your Business is accredited by the NAPBS.
Conference attendees will hear from speakers such as Jacqueline Berrien, Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. They will also have the opportunity to join panel sessions on topics related to the background screening industry, including recent developments and challenges in employment screening, FTC regulations in the screening industry, and ways to protect your business or organization through data security.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in Capitol Hill Day, working to make positive legislative changes for the background screening industry. In addition, attendees who have completed the FCRA Basic Certification will have the opportunity to go through the Advanced Certification program.
For more information about the conference, visit the NAPBS website.
Posted in ban the box, criminal record
Charlotte, N.C., joins with other large cities such as Seattle and San Francisco in their decision to “ban the box” by removing questions from job applications regarding an applicant’s criminal history.
City job applicants were previously required to inform a potential employer if they had “ever pled guilty to, or been convicted of, a crime other than a minor traffic violation” by checking a box on the job application. City Manager Ron Carlee has ensured that the question has been removed from all applications for city jobs that do not affect public safety or city statutes.
“It sends the message to people who have paid their debt to society that you can get a fair shake,” said Charlotte School of Law professor Jason Huber.
The jobs that have not eliminated the question include positions in law enforcement or airport security, for example. These positions will still include this question on applications for reasons of public safety. But qualified candidates for other positions will not be eliminated in the early hiring process due to a previous conviction.
A North Carolina background check will also not be conducted on any specific candidate early on in the process, further reducing the chances of his or her immediate disqualification. The city will still run background checks on finalists for a given job, but will not declare a candidate ineligible based only on criminal history. Instead, each finalist will be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on how their history may affect their ability to work in the position for which they are applying.
Rhode Island and several other states and cities have implemented or are currently considering ban-the-box legislation.
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