Although advisors are promising that as a country we are recovering from the economic downturn of 2009 and 2010, unemployment is as big an issue as ever. With so many job seekers, companies are in a position where they can really pick and choose who they hire for a vacant position. Part of this is bound to be some intense scrutiny on the criminal background checks of applicants, and discarding those who aren’t 100% clean.
About 65 million Americans – that’s one in four adults – have an arrest or conviction that can show up on a routine criminal background check, according to the Huffington Post. What’s found can effectively upend their search for work or put them out of a job amid one of the most difficult job markets in recent history. Ultimately, that’s a large amount of the work-force who may be refused a job due to mistakes in their past rather than their vocational abilities.
A booming private criminal background industry has made clients of all kinds of companies doing everything from cleaning offices and delivering pizzas to sorting and delivering retail merchandise, said Maurice Emsellem, a policy co-director for the National Employment Law Project and one of the researchers behind the NELP report.
While it’s important to maintain a safe and secure workplace, it’s equally important to get people back in the workplace. It will be interesting to see how this trends over the remainder of the year.
With calls for background checks on ice-cream vendors, to book a hotel room and on college athletes, we now have a West Tennessee mother wanting background checks on college resident assistants after a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga student was accused of placing hidden cameras in dorm rooms, including her daughter’s.
On Monday, police arrested UT Chattanooga student Bernard “Junior” Morris on more than a dozen charges. Police said surveillance cameras were found in students’ apartments following spring break. Morris, a 23-year-old former resident assistant at the university, will be arraigned April 4 on 13 felony burglary charges, one charge of aggravated arson and two misdemeanor theft charges, according to UT Chattanooga police.
Would performing background checks on all RA’s be a good idea? Or what about background screening all students prior to attending college? In this instance, Morris had previous incidents and so a check would have informed the school of his priors, but overall would this prevent future incidents?
It seems the school has now changed it’s policy so that all resident assistants require a background check – whether this will become legislation is yet to be decided. Mitzi Ganus – whose daughter was among the students who returned from spring break to find new alarm clocks (which turned out to be cameras) mysteriously placed in their rooms – plans to speak with a political official to see if a bill can ensure colleges check criminal histories for someone in a supervisory position such as Morris. “I want every parent with a student in school to check with their colleges because there is no excuse for that,” she said.
Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order Tuesday that will require random drug testing of many current state employees as well as pre-hire testing for applicants, according to the LA Times. “Floridians deserve to know that those in public service, whose salaries are paid with taxpayer dollars, are part of a drug-free workplace,” Scott said.
Under Scott’s order, current employees in agencies that answer to the governor, would be subject to periodic random screening. The executive order signed by Scott says the tests would require testing of each employee “at least quarterly.” The random testing of current employees will begin in 60 days under the order.
“A better, healthier, more productive workforce is something taxpayers deserve,” said Scott spokesman Brian Hughes. Effective immediately, any new hires in governor’s agencies would also be subject to pre-hire drug testing under the order.
But the ACLU contends that random searches of all employees aren’t allowed.
“I’m not sure why Gov. Scott does not know that the policy he recreated by executive order today has already been declared unconstitutional,” ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said in a statement. “The state of Florida cannot force people to surrender their constitutional rights in order to work for the state. Absent any evidence of illegal drug use, or assigned a safety-sensitive job, people have a right to be left alone.”
A sex offender has been arrested in Collier County, FL, after applying to work at a local fair. Don J. Deputy Jr., 55, of Gibsonton, Fla., was charged earlier this week with failing to register in Florida as a sex offender.
Deputy had applied to work at the Collier County fair but, unbeknown to him, fair organizers send a list of names of all those they employ to the local sheriff’s office so that a background check can be conducted. During the background check, investigators discovered Deputy’s status as a sex offender. Deputies located him at the Collier County Fairgrounds on Tuesday and placed him under arrest.
It is another successful story of when, and how, background screening works. Had this check not been ordered by the fair organizers, Deputy could well have ended up employed and interacting on a daily basis with children. As noted in a comment on the original article, there is wide-spread appreciation among the locals: “Glad to see that they do background checks on these guys that our children will be around. I know that many parents just drop their kids off at the fair thinking nothing of it. Great job by the CCSO!!!! Thank you for making the fair experience a bit safer!”
Praise must go to the county for placing child safety above expense. Hopefully this is a lesson to communities across America in the importance of background screening and the priority it should have.
A bill in Arkansas that was pushing for welfare drug testing has failed – setting a precedent for the handful of other states that are currently considering similar legislation. The Senate Health, Welfare and Labor Committee killed Senate Bill 157 in a Monday vote.
Under the bill, recipients would be randomly tested for methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin, with 10% of them being tested at the third and 13th weeks of benefits.
But the bill drew opposition from both the Arkansas chapter of the ACLU, for who Holly Dickson testified, and the Arkansas AFL-CIO, which was represented by its president, Alan Hughes. Committee Chairman Sen. Percy Malone (D-Arkadelphia) sided with opponents.
Bills aimed at drug testing people applying for or receiving government benefits are a perennial in state legislatures, with similar legislation being introduced in more than a dozen states. But they rarely go far because of constitutional problems with suspicion-less drug testing, concerns over the cost of drug testing, and worries that such policies would be counterproductive by hurting the families of those whose benefits would be stopped.
What are your thoughts on these concerns? Should drug testing for welfare recipients be a common practice?
A new study by the National Association of Child Care Resource shows that 26 states received a failing grade for child care center regulation and oversight, including their use of background checks, according to Fox News. No one received an ‘A’ grade and only one entity received a ‘B’ – the Department of Defense.
Though child care programs receive about $10 billion a year from taxpayers, three states and the District of Columbia received a C grade. Twenty-one remaining states earned a D in the report.
The report found only 10 states require comprehensive background checks, while seven states do not require child care centers to look up potential hires on the child abuse registry. “The reality is that most state licensing requirements are weak and oversight is weaker,” the organization’s director, Linda Smith, said in a written statement. “The safety of a child in child care should not depend upon the state in which the child lives.”
As has been repeatedly mentioned in the MYB blog, when it comes to our children, their safety is key. The costs that are incurred by performing proper checks and screening on potential carers is incomparable to the knowledge that our children are growing up in safe and secure environments.
The organization recommended that all states require comprehensive background checks, require at least 40 hours of initial training for workers and require inspection results to be posted online. It also recommended that the federal government withhold funding from states that fail to meet minimum standards.
Mind Your Business CEO, Karen Caruso, has been selected as the 2011 North Carolina Small Business Person of the Year by the US Small Business Association (SBA). The award will be presented at National Small Business Week in Washington D.C., May 18-20.
The congratulatory letter states “Your hard work, innovative ideas, and dedication to your community have helped you succeed. The SBA is pleased to recognize your achievements and your role in driving our nation’s economic growth”. Having been previously recognized as an elite business in Western North Carolina, this step up is emphatic of the success that MYB has experienced throughout the economic downturn.
MYB stands out to most businesses due to it’s simple and personable philosophy. The desire to help people was what founded MYB and is the reason they continue to exist. For Karen, while “fiscal gains are inevitable for a successful company, they are certainly not a pre-requisite for us”. With values based on altruism, customer-service and client appreciation, MYB stands out as an organization that can compete against the best on a business level, while also offering the best to their customers.
In a post on this blog last year regarding SBA awards and the recognition that MYB had received, there was no doubt of the implication that 2011 would be a bigger and better year. Such an accolade as the Small Business Person of the Year certainly takes Karen and MYB to the next level, and it is all the more exciting to see what the future holds.
We will be posting more information regarding National Small Business Week and the ceremony nearer to the time, but for now please join me in passing on your congratulations to Karen!
Allentown, PA, has put forward a bill that would require ice-cream vendors to obtain a license – part of which would involve a background check. With background screening becoming an increasingly important social issue in 2011, such a proposal begs the question from some quarters – how far is too far?
With students filing lawsuits against schools who are subjecting pupils to background checks, volunteers not being able to participate in the local community due to the time it takes for background screening to be processed, and even a hotel requiring a background check, it is no surprise that people are beginning to wonder whether we are taking things too far.
According to Allentown, no we are not. “There were two main reasons that this bill came forward,” said council president Michael D’ Amore. “First the fact that the trucks are mobile and attract youth and second that many of the trucks and their operators come from out of our jurisdiction and even the state. If we’re going to do something like this, we should do it the right way and include the FBI background check too,” said councilman Ray O’ Connell. “If you have the two other checks but not the third and something happens, then what?”
Background screening has become an essential part of our society – it is key to protecting our vulnerable members. In the way we currently operate, it can be difficult to get such checks processed in a timely and cost-effective manner. If we want to follow the lead of Allentown, and continue to protect our citizens, then why not work at trying to remove some of the obstacles. For those that question such in-depth checks, perhaps it’s time to look for a new solution – resources to make these processes easier, not removing them altogether.
Civil rights lawyers are fighting Delaware Valley School District’s drug-testing policy in court on behalf of two students. Drug testing at schools has become more and more prominent in the last year or so, and it seems this is the start of a student backlash against what they believe is an invasion of privacy.
As is the case with many schools who have implemented these measures, drug testing in this case is required for students who participate in extracurricular activities, including school dances, or who drive to school. “These policies teach young people to accept extreme invasions of their privacy when they’ve done nothing wrong,” said Mary Catherine Roper, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
According to the complaint, the school district ignored the 2003 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, Theodore vs. Delaware Valley School District, and has continued to enforce its drug-testing policy.
“Random drug testing is also counterproductive, as studies have shown that extracurricular activities help students avoid drug use,” Roper said. “Schools should not be putting up barriers to students’ participation in after-school activities.”
It is no surprise that this lawsuit has been filed, it was sure to happen eventually with more and more schools starting to enforce the practice of random drug testing. No doubt students, teachers and parents across the country will be watching this case carefully, with the result potentially having ramifications across America.
U.S. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, along with U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), this week introduced the Child Care Protection Act of 2011. The legislation requires comprehensive background checks for child care providers including state and federal fingerprint checks, sex offender registry checks, and a check of child abuse and neglect registries for all licensed, regulated, and registered child care providers.
“When working parents enroll their children in child care they shouldn’t have to worry that they might be dropping their child off to be cared for by someone who has been convicted of a violent crime,” Burr said. “Current requirements for background checks do not meet parents’ expectations, and most states fail to ensure that child care providers have undergone a complete and thorough background check. This legislation allows parents to be confident that their children are being taken care of by qualified individuals in a safe environment.”
Requirements for background checks vary greatly from state to state and only a handful of states require child care providers to complete a comprehensive background check. Although a recent survey found that 95% of parents with children under the age of 5 support background checks for child care providers, only 10 states currently conduct a full criminal background check that includes a fingerprint check of state and federal criminal records, a check of child abuse and neglect registries, and a check of the sex offender registry. The Child Care Protection Act of 2011 would require such comprehensive background checks for child care providers and require those background checks be repeated once every 5 years.
As a background screening company based in Hendersonville, NC, it is with pride that we note our Senator as a key member of the force pushing for increased background check regulations in childcare. As an essential part of our lives, any advance in the regulations is a step forward in terms of attaining a safer society.
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