Posted in background check, background legislation, background screening, potential babysitter, school background checks
On July 1, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed off on updates to the state’s previously approved child-protective background checking law. Despite the original law’s intention to protect children from sexual predators by requiring volunteers to undergo criminal history and state police background checks, there was much confusion regarding who the law should apply to, and which types of jobs required mandatory screening.
“We thought we’d been specific … giving kind of generalized definitions of who would need a background check,” said. Rep. Kathy Watson. “We really weren’t. It still confused people.”
Under the tweaked law, the only people that are required to be fingerprinted and undergo the two mandatory background check processes are those who directly supervise children and those who are responsible for a child’s welfare. Family caregivers will also require screening.
Gov. Wolf also clarified that volunteers will not be responsible for paying for their own background checks, and that those fees will be waived.
University employees, administrative staff, and non-supervisory school volunteers will not require mandatory fingerprinting or either of the two background checking processes mentioned. Some universities and schools are continuing to take caution and conduct those checks anyway, but the law clarified that those checks are not required by state law.
Hopefully these clarifications will make it easier for schools, employers and public service offices to determine who must be screened and who may not require screening.
For more information about background screening, and particularly criminal background checks for child welfare, contact Mind Your Business today.
Posted in background checks, background screening, credit checks, criminal background checks, drug tests, employment, false resume information
If you’re a new business owner or have recently become more involved in the hiring process at your company, you may be wondering what measures you can put in place to safeguard the business. There are several types of background checks that an employer can conduct at various points in the hiring process, and each plays a different role in protecting your company or organization. Here is a basic overview of the types of background checks you should consider implementing, and when they are best utilized.
Criminal background checks
Criminal background checks are common in employment situations in which the employee will have access to company financial information or will be working with vulnerable populations. Oftentimes, a company will reconsider hiring the person if they are applying for a position related to a previous felony conviction. In order to conduct criminal checks, a background screening company will check state and federal databases in order to turn up convictions and arrest records for employer review.
Caution: if your state has ban-the-box laws on the books, you may not be able to conduct criminal checks until after an interview has been conducted, or even until after an offer of employment has been made. The exception is for those applying for jobs that require employees to work with children or the elderly (such as teachers and nursing-home attendants), or in sensitive fields (such as law enforcement), where candidates must pass criminal checks as part of the job requirements.
A credit check is one of the types of background checks. This review allows your business to run a “soft” credit inquiry on an applicant, so you’ll be able to see his or her credit report or without affecting the credit score. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires you to inform applicants in writing that you will be conducting credit checks. Credit checks are best used when a candidate is applying for a job in finance, or when they will have access to company coffers or credit cards.
Employment or education verification
Ensuring that the applicant’s resume is accurate and truthful is wise, and this is where employment verification and education verification come into play. Sometimes applicants commit resume fraud by listing degrees they never earned and employers they never worked for, because it makes their resumes look more appealing to future employers. Confirming the events and locations listed on a resume can be time-consuming for busy employers, so it’s best to leave this process to a background-screening company.
Many employers conduct drug tests prior to employment regardless of industry, but drug testing is especially important for those positions in which an employee can affect someone else’s safety, such as jobs in manufacturing or transportation. A drug test can be as simple as a urinalysis, or more complicated with hair or blood tests.
It’s a smart practice to review an applicant’s references to ensure that there have not been any issues with the applicant’s past performance. A reference check simply requires checking in via phone or e-mail with the people the candidate has listed as references, as well as former employers, to ensure accuracy regarding the skills and accomplishments the applicant claims.
Be aware that, while all of these types of background checks are great options to consider when hiring, laws vary from state to state. Working with a background-screening company can ensure that you stay within the bounds of the law in your screening practices.
For more information about how you can utilize these types of background checks when making hiring decisions, contact Mind Your Business.
Posted in background screening, ban the box, criminal background checks, employment
After last month’s Senate vote to pass statewide ban-the-box legislation, the Virginia House of Delegates approved the new measure and Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed it into law on April 3. The new law requires state government job applications to remove all questions about an applicant’s criminal history.
The law allows for background checks to be conducted on these individuals after the candidate has been found to be qualified for the job; according to the order, this will only happen after a candidate has been deemed eligible for a position, is being considered for a specific position, and has signed a waiver authorizing the state to conduct these checks.
Provided the candidate signs the waiver, he or she cannot be turned down for the job unless former convictions are specifically related to the position for which the candidate is applying, or if convictions prevent him or her from working in certain capacities.
“We should not seal the fate of every man and woman with a criminal record based on a hasty verdict,” said Gov. McAuliffe. “If they are eager to make a clean start and build new lives in their communities, they deserve a fair chance at employment.”
While the order only applies to state jobs, it encourages private employers to take similar action on their job applications. Several private employers, including Target and Wal-Mart, have already removed criminal history questions from job applications in Virginia.
Gov. McAuliffe also cited statistics about criminal history questions disproportionally screening out people of color; this law is an attempt to reduce the “unequal impact on our minority families,” according to Gov. McAuliffe.
According to the National Employment Law Project, an estimated 70 million Americans have some kind of criminal record.
Virginia is now the 15th state — not including Washington D.C. — to have ban-the-box legislation on the books.
photo credit: Application – pen via photopin (license)
Posted in background screening, criminal background checks, employment background screening, pre-employment background screening, student background checks
While some jobs require employees to pass all kinds of criminal background checks in order to begin work — jobs like teachers and police officers — other types of positions may not be so stringent. However, whether you think background checks are necessary or not, it’s always better to err on the safe side.
This subject was brought up when it was found that not all family fun centers or children’s organizations in Colorado screen their employees. (This is not such surprising news, as Colorado lawmakers recently shot down legislation requiring club sports volunteers and staff to undergo criminal background checks before allowing them to work with young athletes.) Spin City in Grand Junction, Colo., for example, provides family fun through bowling, laser tag, roller skating and an arcade, but does not conduct background checks on employees.
“We don’t do background checks here just for the simple fact that most of our staff is kids or young adults and most of them don’t really need to have a background check,” said Spin City’s Sheila Johnson. (Employees are, however, required to pass drug tests.) She said that most of Spin City’s employees are in high school or their first year of college.
Here are three reasons businesses — especially those whose employees will be interacting with children — should conduct criminal background checks.
1) Assumptions aren’t always accurate. Just because someone is young does not mean he or she is incapable of having a criminal or juvenile record. Even young adults can find themselves with a crime on record, and putting other people’s children in that situation, even via negligence, puts the company in danger of a lawsuit if something were to happen.
2) The EEOC could get involved. It’s one thing if the only people applying for a job at a particular company are teens and young adults, but it’s quite another to only hire young people in order to avoid the background check process. If an older candidate is denied a job due to age and chooses to sue, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may wind up getting involved, which can tie up your business in court for extensive amounts of time and money.
3) You’re putting the company, and its employees and clients, at risk. By not conducting background checks, you’re opening your business up to dangerous situations. What if your employee has a history of violence or theft? If you don’t screen, you’ll never know, and that can be a danger to your other employees or the customers you serve. It can also potentially open a door for lawsuits against your business.
Always conduct criminal background checks when you’re hiring employees, especially if the employee will be working with children, the elderly, or in other situations that could put other people in danger. Working with a background screening company will help you further, keeping up to date on existing screening laws.
Contact Mind Your Business today to learn more about the process of conducting criminal background checks.
Posted in background checks, background screening, pre-employment background checks
Air travel in the U.S. requires an extensive passenger screening process; between pat-downs and X-ray machines, random hand-swabbing and required removal of belts and shoes, you’d expect the airport to be an incredibly secure place.
However, in light of a Delta Airlines employee who was charged with smuggling guns onto planes in Atlanta, there has been increased scrutiny on the screening of airport personnel. As it turns out, there are hardly any processes in place to prevent employees from bringing hazardous materials or items to their workplace.
Only two of the major U.S. airports — both in Florida — require “secure access” airport personnel to pass through metal detectors on a daily basis in order to get into the airport. Most other airports allow Transportation Security Administration and other airport employees to pass in and out of the airport without being screened.
In addition, while employees need to pass a background check in order to get hired, most never undergo any further screening, random or otherwise.
“What good is all the screening at the front door if we are not paying attention enough at the back door?” asked New York Rep. John Katko, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Transportation Security, during a hearing about airport security regulations.
The Homeland Security Institute conducted a study in 2008 regarding random screening of airport personnel, and found that conducting random checks was almost as effective as screening 100% of employees. Regardless, that practice has not been implemented in the majority of U.S. airports.
The employee that was charged was a Delta baggage handler working at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. He had brought guns to work with him, was not subject to any scrutiny, and was able to pass the weapons over to a passenger that had already gone through the TSA security checkpoint. The TSA is now considering what can be done to prevent similar security breaches in the future.
“We recognize that 100% screening of airport employees has operational and cost challenges. But the unmistakable fact, as recent events suggest, is that we need to be consistently vigilant in our efforts,” said Miguel Southwell, who is the general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “Any system is only as strong as its weakest link.”
photo credit: N173DZ@TXL;18.10.2010/588bl via photopin (license)
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.
photo credit: sfxeric via photopin cc
Posted in background checking, background screening, employment background screening, Mind Your Business, MYB
With 2014 behind us and the new year providing a blank page of possibility, we would like to take a moment to look back at the highlights that both the background screening industry and Mind Your Business experienced over the previous 12 months.
It has been a whirlwind of a year, with plenty of new legislation affecting businesses across the country.
The ban-the-box movement continued to gain traction in more cities and states, and 2014 saw Washington D.C., New Jersey and Delaware pass their own versions of state-wide ban-the-box laws. Now, more than 30 states have some type of laws to protect those with criminal backgrounds and help them to find employment without being discriminated against, whether at the local or state level.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took plenty of businesses to court for alleged discrimination against employees, but faced fire itself when it refused to disclose how it conducts background checks during its own hiring process. Because of its lack of transparency, this brings up questions of hypocrisy within the government organization.
The government did one right when it fired USIS, one of its previous background screening companies, which provided background checks for about 40 percent of all government employees and contractors. The Justice Department is also suing USIS for “dumping” up to 15,000 background checks per employee per month.
Mind Your Business attended several conferences this year, including the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) annual conference, the Asheville business development seminar (hosted by the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center), the NAPBS Legislative and Regulatory Conference, and the Mardi Gras Ball.
MYB CEO Karen Caruso also had the pleasure of attending the Women in Public Policy Annual Leadership Meeting, in which legislation to level the playing field for woman-owned small businesses in government contracting was discussed.
Caruso was accepted into — and recently completed — Goldman Sachs’ “10,000 Small Businesses” program, which helps small business owners grow their businesses through business clinics, networking support and practical education.
MYB was also awarded an Incumbent Workforce Development Program grant to help improve the education and training of employees, as well as a General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule for future government contracts.
We have enjoyed great successes as a business this year, and we wish you success in your business endeavors this year as well. We look forward to all that 2015 has to offer!
Posted in background checks, background screening, credit checks, criminal background checks
While it would be nice if every renter could be a model tenant, landlords have to be careful when renting homes or apartments out. It’s a fine line to walk; you want to have great tenants living in your rentals, but that requires conducting a few types of background checks.
You should absolutely run the following types of background checks:
- Credit checks — You’ll want to make sure your potential tenant doesn’t have any glaring problems in his or her credit history, such as frequently missing payments, bills being sent to collections or bankruptcies. Problems such as these may indicate financial irresponsibility, which you may pay for later.
- Criminal background checks — Does the tenant have a criminal history? How long ago was the conviction, and is there evidence that the person has been rehabilitated? Use your best judgment, because you need to keep your other tenants safe. Be aware of sex offender laws as well; if your residence is located near a school or daycare, state and federal laws dictate how close a sex offender can live to the facility.
- Employment checks — It’s a good idea to contact the renter’s employers, present and past, as it will give you a good picture as to the person’s level of responsibility as well as whether his or her income will allow for the cost of rent each month. Follow up on these references to ensure the applicant has been honest.
But watch out for these pitfalls when conducting screening processes:
- Inform the tenant about conducting checks — The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires landlords to disclose that credit checks will be conducted. It also gives potential tenants the option to see their report if to check for inaccuracies, if they are going to be overlooked because of something on the report.
- Watch out for discrimination — It is illegal to discriminate against a potential tenant due to race, religion, gender, ethnicity or disability under the federal Fair Housing Act. Be mindful of this when conducting background checks. It is a good idea to have an across-the-board screening policy in place that is mandatory for all potential tenants.
- Find out previous residences — Did your potential renter just move from out of town? Get a driver’s license number and previous addresses. If your renter is from a different state or county, you’ll want to conduct local checks in those locations in order to ensure they aren’t trying to outrun a criminal history. Plus, getting the addresses of previous residences allows you to get in contact with previous landlords, so you can get a better picture of your new tenants.
If you watch out for these issues, and conduct various types of background checks on each potential new tenant, you should have no problems when renting your home or apartment out.
Posted in background legislation, background screening, EEOC
After some witness expressed concerns about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s enforcement actions at an oversight hearing in June, the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections arranged a hearing last month to review three potential new pieces of legislation that would affect how the EEOC can enforce and regulate businesses that are trying to comply with state and federal anti-discrimination laws. That hearing took place on Sept. 17.
During the hearing, Rep. Tim Walberg, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, said, “[The EEOC] has spent a great deal of time and resources advancing a deeply flawed enforcement and regulatory agenda … employers have fallen under EEOC’s intense scrutiny without any allegation of employment discrimination.”
Walberg encouraged the creation and support of legislation that would oversee enforcement and assist employers in complying with local, state and federal laws.
The hearing covered three pieces of legislation, including the EEOC Transparency and Accountability Act, and the Certainty in Enforcement Act. The former would require the EEOC to post publicly any mandatory court-sanctioned costs it pays on its website; the latter, once passed, would provide a “safe harbor” for employers working to comply with regulations about the hiring process, particularly in regards to background checks.
The Certainty in Enforcement Act would also help to clarify existing background check laws and the EEOC’s guidance in the process as businesses complete checks without discriminating against any group. Former EEOC staff member Lynn Clements testified that the existing guidance “fail[s] to provide a clear path for employers.” Another witness said that the bill would assist in keeping EEOC guidelines from interfering with or overriding state and city laws.
Not everyone was so thrilled with the potential new laws. Professor Michael Foreman, who is the Director of the Civil Rights Appellate Clinic at the Dickinson School of Law at Pennsylvania State University, testified that the new regulations would “weaken the EEOC’s effectiveness” in enforcing anti-discrimination laws.
For more information about the laws that were discussed, check out the memo regarding the pending bills.
Posted in background screening, Facebook, pre-employment background checks, social media background checks
Some police agencies in California have been requiring prospective employees to hand over their social media passwords during background screening, or risk losing out on a job.
California passed a law two years ago preventing employers from asking applicants for social media passwords, but there is a loophole: the wording of the law makes it unclear whether the law applies to all employers, or only private employers.
“We interpret [the law] as only applying to private employers,” said Police Chief Ken Corney, of Ventura, Calif.
Some police departments in the state still require job applicants to hand over their Facebook, Twitter and other social media passwords in order to comb through anything that has been hidden by privacy settings. This applies to not only law-enforcement positions, but also “sensitive” non-police jobs, such as corrections officers and dispatchers.
Alternatively, some departments ask candidates to bring up their social media accounts in front of their prospective employer. Some departments require password information when current employees switch jobs within the organization as well.
When the author of the original law, Assemblywoman Nora Campos, attempted to pass legislation closing the loophole this year, she received opposition from police management groups that were concerned that they would not be able to screen candidates thoroughly without access to an individual’s social media accounts.
However, those who supported the new bill expressed concern that if police agencies are able to require passwords, then other public employers, such as school districts, may be able to require social media passwords as well.
The bill was dropped in favor of letting the courts decide whether law enforcement agencies have the right to ask for passwords, or if the law applies universally to both private and public employees.
Photo credit: railking via Free Images
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