Maryland has become the latest state to pass legislation banning credit checks from being part of pre-employment background screening. It has joined Hawaii, Washington, Illinois and Oregon by curbing employers use of employment credit checks, and is another state who agrees that an individual’s personal financial situation should not be applicable when considering their ability to perform a job.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law the Maryland Job Applicant Fairness Act on April 12, 2011 which prohibits employers use of credit reports in determining an applicant’s suitability for a vacant job position. Nonetheless, like the other states who have passed such a bill, there are exceptions. These include applicants for positions within financial institutions as well as those who are regulated or required to do so by state and, or federal law.
The Act also provides limited exceptions that allow employers to request or use credit information where such information is related to a bona fide purpose that is substantially job-related. The bona fide purpose exception generally applies to those positions involving money-handling or other confidential job duties.
For instance, employers may request credit information for employees who are provided expense accounts or corporate credit cards, and employees who have access to confidential business information. When this happens, the employer must make the employee aware of their investigations.
Violators of the law are subject to fines of up to $500 for an initial violation and up to $2,500 for repeat violations.
The law is set to take effect on October 1, 2011.
Employers check references for several reasons during the pre-employment screening process. When an individual applies for a job, they will go through a process which is in place to ensure that the applicant will be a positive and productive influence on the company. For this reason, along with potential criminal checks, often employers check references to ensure that employing this individual will provide the desired outcome – for both the applicant and the company.
Employers check references primarily to ensure that the qualifications you claim to have are genuine, your employment history is honest, and that your work ethic and personal values are going to have a constructive impact on the company.
Potential employers will check references in two forms – personal references and professional references. Personal references are references that can vouch for your character and your personal values – often from someone that knows you, such as neighbor, coach or teacher. Employers will also check professional references – which will come from someone who can vouch for your qualification and abilities to perform a job. An example of this would be a former employer.
When employers check references, they will likely want to check more than one of each, so I would recommend listing four – two personal and two professional. It is also recommended that you let the individuals you are listing know that they may be contacted, and to thank them once they have provided a reference. You should list these references on a reference page of your application – along with your resume and cover letter – providing the references name, title, organization they are affiliated with, contact number and email address.
In conclusion, employers check references to make sure you are who you say you are, and you can perform the tasks you claim to be able to perform. Such a screening process is an essential way of verifying the claims you make in an application, and provides a potential employer with a much wider understanding of you as an individual and you as an employee. Good references can take you a step closer to securing that dream job you’re searching for.
For more information on reference checks, get in touch with Mind Your Business – experts in background investigations and employment checks.
CHARLOTTE – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has named Karen Caruso, CEO of Mind Your Business, Inc. (MYB) the North Carolina Small Business Person of the Year for 2011. She was nominated by Annice Brown and Clark Fields of the North Carolina Small Business & Technology Development Center, Western Regional Center.
MYB conducts pre-employment screening, applicant background checks and drug & alcohol testing services to individuals, corporate and government clients Nationally and Internationally.
Small Business Person of the Year winners from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam will converge on Washington, D.C. May 18-20, 2011 to mark the annual celebration of National Small Business Week. One of them will be selected as National Small Business Person of the Year.
The theme of Small Business Week 2011 is “Empowering Entrepreneurs.”
The criteria for the award include: Longevity – a substantiated history as an established business, growth in number of employees, innovativeness of product/service offered, response to adversity and contributions to community-oriented projects.
Karen Caruso’s inspiration to start her business occurred in 1995 while she and her 10 month old daughter Shelby were watching an Oprah Winfrey show on abusive child care providers. Immediately seeing the need and recognizing the importance, Karen developed applicant screening services centered around but not limited to the childcare industry. Her experience in security proved to be pivotal and the essential factor in what would become the foundation of a safer and more secure environment for children and the child care industry. In 1996 with $2500.00, a vision, two employees and a personal computer, Mind Your Business, Inc. (MYB) was launched in the basement of her New Jersey home.
With the assistance of SBA sponsored counseling, training through SCORE, the North Carolina Small Business Technology and Development Center, and the SBA Women’s Business Center, MYB and the number of clients it supports has grown substantially. MYB now employs 14 people, serves over 1500 businesses and since 2004, operates in a 3,000 square foot facility in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Despite the economy and it’s relation to the employment sector, MYB posted record profits in 2009 and 2010 due largely in part to it’s hands on management team and unyielding commitment to customer service.
Recently, MYB expanded its services to include Drug and Alcohol testing, FMCSA Fleet Incident Reporting Management and NRMA The National Retail Mutual Association Theft Database.
In addition to these services, MYB in collaboration with Western Carolina University created proprietary software programs to service its clients with Visitor Management Screening tools. In December 2010, MYB was approved for a $25,000 SBA Express loan through First Citizens Bank to market the newly developed services. For more information contact Karen Caruso, at Mind Your Business, Inc., 305 East 8th Avenue, Hendersonville, NC 828-698-9905 or e-mail email@example.com.
Information from a background check has been presented providing evidence that the new police chief of Jasper, TX has a criminal past, according to the Beaumont Enterprise. Jasper Mayor Mike Lout said the city council never received information in Rodney Pearson’s applicant packet that he had been accused of passing bad checks in two West Texas cities.
Pearson was appointed as chief of police on April 22nd, having served as interim chief since February. He was one of 23 applicants for the police chief position and, having served as fire chief of the Jasper Volunteer Fire Department previously, he was a shoe-in for the role. However, with these revelations comes embarrassment not just for him, but for the entire Department of Public Safety. One of his DPS supervisors went as far to tell Jasper officials they are “asking for trouble” if they appoint Pearson as police chief, according to details released by the city from Pearson’s background check.
What happens next will be down to the Department of Public Safety, but such a story reminds us that you can be never be 100% sure about someone, and no employer should ever hire someone without a professional and detailed background check.
Drugs in the workplace dramatically decrease the productivity within a company in many ways. They increase healthcare costs – including workers compensation, reduce overall productivity, and statistics show drug and alcohol abusers to be ten times more likely of taking time off work.
It is safe to say that minimizing drugs in the workplace should be at the forefront of a company’s foundation to avoid detrimental costs. Promoting a safe, healthy, and responsible atmosphere for workers to operate in is an easy first step for the drugs in the workplace fight.
The United States Department of Labor estimated in 2005 that of the 17.2 million drug abusers in the US, 12.9 million were employed either full or part time. In addition, 10 to 20% of workers who died on the job tested positive for alcohol or other drugs. Such dismal facts bring to light the necessity for companies to host drug prevention programs to help minimize drugs in the workplace.
Through drug prevention programs, companies can not only promote a more wholesome life, but can also reduce worker’s compensation insurance premiums with simple state certification. Further, the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 provides federal grant incentives for companies that help reduce drugs in the workplace. An individual grantee faces less extensive requirements in meeting with the Act’s standards in contrast to an organization which generally has to incorporate much more programmatic steps to achieve a drug-free workplace.
To minimize drugs in the workplace and receive economic incentives, companies will practice Drug Free Workplace Programs: about 90% of large companies practice some form of the program. Certification requires the grantee to abide by a long list of protocol. Such protocol include a timely publication within the company notifying employees that the “unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of a controlled substance is prohibited in the grantee’s workplace and specifying the actions that will be taken against employees for violation of such prohibition.” Other protocol includes drug-free awareness programs to inform employees about the dangers of drug abuse in the workplace, the grantee’s policy of maintaining a drug-free workplace, any available drug counseling, rehabilitation, and employee assistance programs, and the penalties that may be imposed upon employees for drug abuse violations occurring in the workplace.
One of the mainstays of a prevention program will likely be the drug testing of all employees – both prior to employment and randomly during employment. While such measures are currently utilized the most in specific industries – such as those where employees are using heavy and dangerous machinery – the positive consequences of incorporating drug testing in any company are obvious – drugs in the workplace hinder productivity, inhibit wholesome living and can cost the company a lot of money.
While the main criticism of introducing drug testing program is due to costs involved, the initial costs will be far outweighed by the long term financial benefit. No company can afford litigation – which is often the result should a drug user disrupt the workplace, or worse – harm another employee. Find out how you can protect yourself, your company and your employees further by getting in touch with Mind Your Business, Inc. today!
While different jobs require different aspects of the background check process, all are implemented to ensure the candidate will be beneficial to the company. The background check process is in place to confirm stated facts about previous experience in the candidate’s application as well as their personal history.
The primary parts of the background check process are past employment verification, criminal history and, in some cases, credit score (depending on the state and the company). Another subject area the background check process may incorporate, given the increase of lawyers over the last generation, is workers compensation claims. Companies are hesitant to hire previous workers compensation claimers as they are sometimes prone to injury through intentional or unintentional reasons. Again, this will depend on the company. The background check process will also likely investigate key areas of character analysis such as employment references, gaps in employment history, and identity and address verification.
There are designated companies, such as Mind Your Business, that perform background checks for companies seeking to hire a new employee, or perhaps seeking to gain relevant information of an existing employee. Interestingly, out of all sectors in the economy, financial service firms use background check companies the most while the construction and property industry shows the least amount of outsourcing.
While the position of credit checks within the background check process is up in the air, such checks are still in place in most states. This began when, in 1970, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was passed and is now enforced by the US Federal Trade Commission and private litigants. The FCRA is responsible for “regulating the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information.” The FCRA uses Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA) to retain consumer’s credit reports and other relative employment information. It is important to be aware that within the background screening process the CRA is not allowed to retain negative information for excessive periods of time. For example, a CRA is only allowed to hold onto bankruptcy information for ten years. The FCRA also notices other information technology companies known as “nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency” of which are responsible for retaining information relevant to medical records or payments, residential or tenant history, and insurance claims.
It is important to notice that when a credit check is part of the background check process, mistakes are sometimes made. The Public Interest Research Group reported in 2004 that 79% of consumer credit reports surveyed contained some kind of error. This is part of the reason that credit checks have been the subject of legislation in a dozen or so states. On top of the fact that, in this current economy, many feel it is unfair to judge someone’s work performance on their financial situation, it seems that credit checks as part of the background check process are gradually getting filtered out.
Hopefully this information is relevant to your inquiries about the background check process – if you have any further questions please leave a comment or get in touch. If you’re a job seeker, keep these things in mind, and best of luck in your search!
Following up from our post regarding how schools are failing to reach background check targets, the HR director of the specific school in question has chosen to resign.
In the previous blog post, we discussed how at schools in Brockton, MA, background checks have not been performed on teachers and other school employees in more than three years, putting the department in violation of state law. The revelation came less than a week after School Committee members said they were assured that the department was in compliance with state laws regarding employee background checks.
Kathleen Sirois, the longtime human resources director for Brockton schools, has now agreed to retire effective June 30. Although it has not been admitted that the retirement is a consequence of these failures, it is likely that there is some sort of correlation. “(It is) a personal decision on her regard,” Superintendent Matthew Malone said. “I’m moving forward on the redesigning of the human resources department. I’m going to miss her guidance.” Asked if he had asked her to retire, Malone said, “I’m not going to answer that question.”
As was mentioned previously, you certainly cannot blame Sirois alone for these problems – it goes above and beyond her right up to the upper echelons of the authorities, and it is an issue we need to solve. While it is Sirois‘ head that has rolled this time, hers will certainly not be the last.
Back last September we ran a story regarding Match.com, and how many were calling for its members to face background checks prior to being able to register. Online dating checks have been discussed for years yet, at the time, Mandy Ginsberg – General Manager of Match.com claimed that “if we provide background checks, can they be accurate? And if they’re not, do we give a false sense of security to people on the site? That’s the big concern I have. If someone slips through the cracks… does that create more of a risk for people to not be more prudent?”
How times and opinions can change in just six months regarding these online dating checks. After a Los Angeles woman reported that she was raped by a man she met on the site, Match.com has agreed to introduce new screening policies for potential users. The LA Times reports that the site will now begin cross-checking users against a national sex-offender registry, despite the previous concerns that such a policy would not be foolproof and may provide a false sense of security.
Last week, Match.com release a statement regarding the online dating check changes they are implementing, claiming that despite their concerns, after talking to providers and advisers, company officials had finally decided to make a change. “We’ve been advised that a combination of improved technology and an improved database now enables a sufficient degree of accuracy to move forward with this initiative, despite its continued imperfection”, said Gindberg. “We want to stress that while these checks may help in certain instances, they remain highly flawed, and it is critical that this effort does not provide a false sense of security to our members” she continued.
Match.com claims it will take 60 – 90 days to implement the policy change.
Online dating checks are certainly nothing new – True.com has been implementing these checks since the sites conception. It seems that Match.com is only just catching up. They claim that the online dating check changes have been planned for a while, but there is no doubt that the lawsuit filed against them has certainly sped up these plans, if not perhaps created them altogether. Nonetheless, users should remember that background checks are not 100% accurate, and that they should still display caution when using the site and contacting other members.
With social media websites effectively being free databases of information on their users, many employers are using sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn to perform their own background checks on job applicants. Facebook background checks are a prominent occurrence, due to the regularity of Facebook privacy changes. As users don’t keep up-to-date with the changes, they often leave their personal information accessible to anyone who views their profile.
So although this seems like a great way for employers to find out a little more about potential employees, what are the problems with using social media profiles for background checks, and what are the possible consequences?
The main issue is discrimination. Legally, employers cannot discriminate when hiring – but if an employer checks someone’s Facebook page, then they will become privy to personal information that may affect their decision. The consequences of using this information wrongly can include discrimination lawsuits and claims of invasion of privacy from job applicants.
The second issue to consider is the accuracy of the information. The majority of people see sites such as Facebook as a fun way to keep in touch with friends, and therefore may not provide accurate or serious information. Religious views and political views are just a few examples of aspects of people’s pages that are often played around with, and will not necessarily relate to the true views of the individual. By looking at an applicant’s Facebook page, an employer may not be getting an accurate portrayal of the individual at all – which would be completely counter-productive.
A safer and more reliable way to perform a background check is to hire a background screening company. By using social networks as free ways to check up on someone, you could be taking just as much risk as by not performing any checks at all.
We recently posted how 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). This accolade has not gone unnoticed in the North Carolina region, with the story being picked up by several newspapers. Most recently, the Winston-Salem Chronicle published an article regarding Karen, the award and MYB. To be recognized in this way by such a popular NC newspaper is yet another source of pride for both Karen and the company.
The article begins by stating how “The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) has named Karen Caruso, CEO of Mind Your Business, Inc. (MYB) the North Carolina Small Business Person of the Year”. It furthermore goes on to tell us who Karen was nominated by, how MYB began and the success the company has achieved.
The recognition that “MYB posted record profits in 2009 and 2010″ certainly does not hide the fact that the SBA award is well deserved. Further on, we are told by the article that the criteria for the award was six-fold: staying power, employee growth, innovativeness of services offered, response to adversity and contributions to the community. Karen has excelled in all of these, as is clear by not only her nomination, but by her success in receiving the award.
Small Business Person of the Year winners from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rica and Guam will be converging for the award ceremony 18-20 May in Washington D.C., where a national Small Business Person of the Year will be selected. We at MYB certainly have our fingers crossed for Karen, and we will be sure to let you know the results!
Next Page »