Archive for September, 2012

Employee Pulls Gun on Customer; KFC Not Liable

Friday, September 28th, 2012

employee screeningThey say “Dog Bites Man” is not news, but “Man Bites Dog” is. In an unusual case in Pennsylvania, a fast-food employee pulled a gun out and pistol-whipped a customer. Why? Because he was taking too long to place his order.

Sad, but true. The customer suffered a concussion and other injuries and, not surprisingly, sued KFC. Among other claims, the customer said KFC was negligent because they had not conducted a background check on the employee, and should have known he had a propensity for violence.

KFC did have a policy in place prohibiting employees from bringing weapons to work, but only conducted employee screening on candidates for management positions. The federal district court in Pennsylvania rejected the customer’s claim and said KFC was not legally required to conduct criminal background checks on front line employees. In addition, a background check would have revealed that the employee did have two convictions for nonviolent crimes on his record—but not that KFC could have known he would bring a gun to work and use it.

While not legally required, conducting background checks on employees is still a sound practice. Putting your business, your customers and staff at risk can leave you liable in certain circumstances. While the owner of this KFC did not have to pay damages to the plaintiff, the story could have had a much more serious ending—and nobody wants to put their customers at risk for their lives.

Federal “Ban the Box” Background Check Prohibition Introduced

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

pre-employment screening, criminal background check, employee screening, credit checkThis summer, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prohibit an employer from inquiring whether an applicant for employment has been convicted of a criminal offense. The federal “Ban the Box Act” allows for two exemptions: when a conditional offer of employment has been made or if granting employment could pose unreasonable safety risks to specific individuals or the general public.

If the bill passes, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) would be required to issue rules and guidelines for employers to follow. They would define the categories in which an applicant’s criminal history would pose such a safety risk, and the factors to consider when making the determination that hiring an individual poses unreasonable risks.

The bill’s sponsor is Representative Hansen Clarke (D-MI), who has said the goal is to curtail recidivism, since individuals with criminal histories who cannot get jobs are more likely to commit additional crimes. Co-sponsors of the bill are John Conyers, Bobby Rush, Charles Rangel, Frederica Wilson and Keith Ellison.

According to GovTrack.us, a website that provides information on pending legislation and members of Congress, the bill is currently is in Committee, awaiting a report. The site’s prognosis is that the bill as a 2% chance of being enacted, mostly because just 4% of all House bills in 2009 – 2010 were enacted.

“The Box” refers to the area on an employment application where applicants are required to check a box if they have been convicted of a crime. Many states and municipalities across the U.S. have enacted such bans for themselves and employers of certain sizes. Some prohibit criminal background checks and employment screening until a conditional employment offer has been issued. Others allow criminal history checks if a conviction is related to the position.

Employers should check the laws in their localities, and utilize only a professional, trusted background check provider such as CriminalData.com.

What Employers Should Know About Gen Y Employees

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

employee screening, employee background checkThink you know what makes your 20- to 30-year-old employees tick? Many older bosses believe that this group values the security of a big corporation, with strict schedules and lots of rules—but they are mistaken.

A new study by PayScale.com, a salary-comparison site, says that Gen Ys, born between 1982 and 1993, are more entrepreneurial, and would rather work in looser environments, with flexible policies and more freedom to make decisions. The study’s other findings shed light on this highly educated, social media-focused group:

Education level:

  • Percent of Gen Ys with bachelor’s degrees: 63.
  • 12.8% of Gen Ys have earned master’s degrees.
  • Percent with high school diploma only: 3.

Company size:

  • Gen Y work force employed by small companies (less than 100 employees): 47%.
  • Percent employed by companies with 1,500 or more employees: 23.
  • Median years with employers: 2 (compared to 7 for baby boomers).

The most common job skills reported by Gen Ys were software, blogging, social media optimization, press releases and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis. These skills are most likely to be utilized in online marketing and media positions—except for PCR analysis, which is biochemical-related. Considering that this generation grew up with computer technology, it’s not surprising that they are comfortable with social media.

This group also embraces science and engineering. Common majors include neuroscience, chemical engineering, petroleum engineering and bioengineering, which also pay better than many fields. Only 15% of Gen Ys are currently working at the management level, according to the study, but most are very entrepreneurial, ready to start businesses without much hesitation.

Employers can harness the creativity and drive of this group by providing challenges, offering flexibility and including them on decision-making. Tap into their entrepreneurial streaks by asking for input on new products, sales and marketing channels, and technology. And don’t let too-stodgy rules dampen their spirit and inspire them to look elsewhere for employment. Think about easing up on policies such as no social media while on the clock—you may find your Gen Y staff promoting your company and creating conversations!

Pre-Hire Personality Tests are on the Rise

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

employment screening, pre-employment, background checkSome employers are requiring employment candidates or new hires to complete personality and ability assessment tests—and the trend seems to be on the rise.

Pre-screening potential employees for their personality traits—along with their credit histories and backgrounds—is gaining popularity, as employers ramp up for hiring in an economy that still requires keeping costs down. Few firms can afford to invest in hiring and training new employees, only to have them not work out. They may want to be sure they’re hiring someone with the particular traits they need, or to avoid those traits that could mean a bad hire.

Hiring the right person with the right personality and abilities reduces turnover and the associated costs, which are estimated to be up to one year’s salary for certain professional positions.

Some employers wait until they’ve hired an employee to conduct the test, so they can match them to the tasks they’re well suited for. Others use them to screen candidates before hiring. They don’t move forward with the interviewing process unless an applicant has achieved a minimum test score.

Personality and ability tests benefit employees, too. They can reveal strengths, weaknesses and preferences they might not have known they had. For example, an applicant who is not well suited to customer service tasks likely fail in that position. Or a new employee may discover that they do their job better when they have sufficient planning time. Making that part of their workday can help them succeed.

Personality and ability assessments can improve how employees work together, as well. Sharing results, such as “Bill is communicator,” “Jane is a problem solver,” or “Michelle is a planner” can help everyone adjust their work style make things work more smoothly.

When hiring new employees, be sure to conduct proper background screening. The best pre-employment screening process includes employee background checks, employee credit checks, and criminal background checks. You’ll know you’re hiring safe when you screen employees before offering a position.