Posts Tagged ‘Employee Background Screening’

Lawsuits Over Background Checks

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

employee screening criminaldata.com

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed lawsuits against Dollar General Corp and a BMW manufacturing plant over their use of employment screening. In each case, the EEOC claims that the criminal background checks used to screen applicants or terminate employees discriminated against African-Americans.

These are the first lawsuits that have been filed since the EEOC updated and clarified its background check guidelines last year. At that time, the agency warned employers that using overly broad criminal background checks that limit job opportunities for applicants with arrests and convictions on their records could set them up for discrimination charges.

While the EEOC clarified then that it was not prohibiting employers from obtaining criminal background checks on job applicants, it did want to “reduce barriers to employment” for those with criminal records who “have been held accountable and paid their dues.”

The agency is alleging that the BMW plant, in Spartanburg, SC ordered new background checks after a staffing company changed contractors. The previous contractor’s policy was not to hire anyone with a criminal conviction within the past seven years. But BMW fired anyone whose new background check revealed a criminal record for any year—and that totaled 88 employees, 70 of whom were African-American. Many of the terminated workers had been with BMW—through the contractor—for over a decade.

The EEOC claims this is a violation of the guidelines, as a “blanket exclusion” that does not take into account the nature or timing of the crime, or whether it relevant to the work performed by the employee.

BMW says it will defend itself against the allegations.

The EEOC’s case against Dollar General is a nationwide action, based on discrimination charges filed by two black applicants. One, who revealed a six-year-old conviction for possession of a controlled substance was offered employment, only to have the offer rescinded, based on Dollar General’s policy not to hire anyone with that type of conviction within 10 years.

The other applicant was rejected based on an erroneous report that she had a felony conviction. She notified Dollar General that the report was a mistake, but they did not reverse the decision, according to the EEOC.

The EEOC continues to urge employers to give applicants an opportunity to explain criminal convictions before they are rejected. It also recommends that employers stop asking about criminal convictions on job applications.

Employers, on the other hand, see criminal background checks as a way to gather as much information as possible about an applicant, so an informed hiring decision can be made. Regardless of skin color, employers have a right to know whether an applicant has a criminal record.

Employers Fight Back as Seattle Cracks Down on Employee Criminal Background Checks

Friday, June 21st, 2013

employee screening, employee pre-screening, employee credit checkSeattle’s City Council voted unanimously last week to prohibit employers from asking prospective employees about their criminal background, or excluding those with arrest or criminal records during the initial phase of the hiring process.

The new legislation, which is called a “second chance bill,” allows employers to check into an applicant’s criminal history only after he or she makes it through the first round of screening for qualified applicants. It’s intended to give those with criminal records a chance to be judged on their qualifications, not their arrest record.

In addition, employers are not allowed to reject an applicant solely because of a criminal record, unless the employer meets three conditions:

  1. The criminal record on which the decision is made must be identified to the job applicant.
  2. The applicant must be given a chance too explain or correct the information.
  3. The employer must demonstrate a “legitimate business reason” for the decision.

Opponents say the City Council should not add another burden to Seattle business owners, and say the process for deciding whether a decision is a “legitimate business decision” is unfair. Under the legislation, the business owner is left to make the decision, but rejected applicants can complain to the Seattle Human Rights Commission, which will investigate. If the Commission second-guesses the decision, it can levy a fine up to $1,000.

The bill also exempts certain jobs from the new law, which goes into effect November 1. Police, security guards and jobs where workers have unsupervised access to children under sixteen, developmentally disabled persons or vulnerable adults. This is the least they can do, but the law should be expanded to include those who handle cash, private information, company secrets and more.

One person who testified against the bill is an employer who works with rape victims. She should be allowed to reject applicants who have been convicted of rape. Other opponents say that the attempt to achieve social objectives at the expense of businesses is wrong.

Seattle joins about 20 other U.S. cities with this type of legislation. Supporters say the reasons they seek such legislation are to reduce criminal recidivism by prohibiting employers from rejecting applicants for criminal records that have nothing to do with the job.

However, Seattle’s law limits businesses’ ability to hire smart, know who they are hiring and protect the safety of their other workers, customers and communities.

How Do Your Background Checks Measure Up?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

employee screening If you’re one of the responsible employers who protect their businesses, customers and staff by performing employee screening and background checks, you might wonder how your pass/fail rate compares to others.

Statistics are difficult to come by. Professional background screening companies don’t typically release this data. But there are a few interesting numbers that show that no matter what type of business you run, or what type of individual applies for employment with you, the chances are good that most of them will stretch the truth to some extent.

Applicants embellish the truth, sometimes innocently, as when they make up an impressive-sounding title for a previous job. They might get the dates of employment wrong, either by mistake or deliberately. After all, when a job seeker realizes that a six-month stint at a previous job looks better than the actual six weeks he actually worked there, it’s easy to enter the wrong month on a resume.

There are super-honest applicants, too, who lets you know right up front that she has a criminal past—but it happened when she was a teenager. That kind of honesty is great, but each company’s hiring policy will dictate whether or not this type of incident will prevent hiring.

Other misrepresentations are more serious, where an applicant invents a past, including academic credentials and previous positions. Or when they try to cover up the fact that they left their last position because they were caught embezzling funds.

That’s why it pays to take a broad approach when doing background checks. Investigate applicants who make it through the preliminary screening and interview process on the basis of education, employment, criminal history, driving records, and even social media use.

Remember, because of the large numbers of people out there with criminal histories, or who have embellished their backgrounds, the chances are good that you’ll hire someone with the potential to cause personal, legal or financial harm.

That’s why a system of pre-employment screening is so important to employers of all sizes.

Recruiting the Best Team

Friday, March 1st, 2013

employee screening, employee credit checkIf your business is healthy again, or is just starting to recover from the recession, you may be thinking about your hiring needs. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a perfect mix of employees, who can take care of all your business’s needs, from waiting on customers or entering orders to keeping the books straight and the floors clean? A team with broad skills who can quickly transition to other roles, depending on what the business needed?

A smaller number of more nimble employees might be the perfect post-recession work force, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses. Here are some of the personality types that might make a good team for you:

  • Curious minds: When an employee craves knowledge, that’s your opportunity to cross-train and develop his or her skills to do a variety of jobs. Curious employees might be assigned research projects, so you don’t have to the legwork on which new technology is best for your company, or what peers in your industry are doing to promote wellness in their companies.
  • Cheerleaders: Positive energy can be priceless. It can undo the damage of workers with poor attitudes, or find hope even when sales are down or a key customer goes out of business. It also rubs off on others. Many employees depend on their upbeat co-workers to keep them motivated—and miss them when they leave.
  • Versatile workers: Some people cannot function if they’re bored at work. Variety is more than the spice of life for these folks—it IS life. Since you as the boss have to wear a lot of hats, why not ask this type of worker to do the same thing? If your versatile worker can take some of your hats away, you might have more time to look at the big picture (which is really the business owner’s job).
  • The Big Mouth: It might not be pleasant to have a nay-sayer on staff, but there are times when they come in handy. For example, pointing out flaws in a strategy or mistakes in processes can save your company time and money in the long run. It’s always good to have a devil’s advocate around.
  • Sages: You need people who have the experience and knowledge to bring along newer employees and act as mentors for more established staff. They can save you tons of time and money by helping to train new employees and develop new leaders.
When you’re recruiting the perfect team, don’t neglect employee 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.

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.

Be on Alert for Phony Drivers Licenses

Friday, July 20th, 2012

background screening, employee credit checkWhat if that new employee you just hired is not who he or she said she was? Or if a long-term employee is found to be an imposter? Every day, all across the country, employees are hired with fake drivers licenses. In some cases, employers knowingly hire illegal immigrants or other individuals with phony identification, but in most cases, the employer doesn’t know until something bad happens.

Employers are required to complete a federal form (the I-9 form) and obtain two types of identification from new employees. Most often, they receive a drivers license and Social Security Card. Employers can call the Social Security Administration to verify a Social Security Number, but will only be told whether the card is valid and the name and SSN match. There is no way for an employer to know if the card or identity is stolen.

Some employees are using phony drivers licenses or other identification to establish identity for a new job. Fake IDs are a big business. Dozens of online sources brag that they can help you establish a new identity, with a “real government-issued ID under another identity.” And the news is full of state Department of Motor Vehicle employees being arrested for providing licenses to ineligible citizens.

Employers can partner with local police to learn how to spot fake identification, and about the latest trends in ID forgery.

Fake identification is a real problem. But increasingly, criminals and others with something to hide are obtaining real drivers licenses with fake names.

In Minnesota, the Homeland Security Department is investigating 10,000 cases of possible fraud. 18 people were recently arrested and several have been indicted. One woman with a legitimate drivers license under a false name obtained a U.S. passport as well. She also once worked for the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office, again under the false name.

When Homeland Security gets involved, you know it’s serious. Hopefully, federal and state government agencies will help employers safeguard against individuals who apply for jobs using real, state-issued identification. They could be hiding criminal records, or other incidents in their pasts that expose employers to liability and potential danger.

When hiring new employees, it’s imperative to conduct a thorough background check, credit check and employment verification through a trusted pre-employment screening service. Be alert, learn what to look for in phony identification, and always verify an applicant’s information.

State Budget Cuts May Lead to Increase in Ex-Convicts Applying for Jobs

Friday, May 4th, 2012

employee screening, employee credit checkAcross the U.S., the economic downturn has been negatively affecting state and local law enforcement budgets. Police and sheriff’s departments have cut staff; jails are laying off guards and prisons are releasing prisoners early because of overcrowding.

For employers who are hiring workers, an increase in ex-convicts in the local population could mean a different type of job applicant. Perhaps this is a good time to review criminal background check procedures.

A variety of state laws make it difficult for regional and national employers to stay compliant, but smaller businesses need to be concerned only with their local and state laws, as well as Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, before deciding what is appropriate for their situation.

The EEOC’s concern is that criminal background checks have a disparate effect on minorities’ hiring history. According to the EEOC, studies show that “some employers make selection decisions based on names, arrest and conviction records…all of which may disparately impact people of color.”

The important thing is that employers are vigilant about doing pre-employment screening and background checks, and to conduct them fairly, as a higher number of unemployed, former convicted criminals are presumably looking for work. Establishing a justifiable business need is the first step. Obtaining applicants’ approval, per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, prior to conducting employee credit checks is also vital to staying within the letter of the law.

Balance your need to keep your other employees, customers and business safe from harm with the rights of your applicants, and exercise good judgment. Remember, 36 states hold employers liable for the negligent hiring of individuals with violent backgrounds.

You can be assured of compliance when you use a reputable, professional employee screening company, such as CriminalData.com. Our extensive experience, secure processes and excellent reputation for professional service mean you may screen prospective employees with confidence.

EEOC Updates Guidance on use of Criminal Records in Employment Decisions

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Employee background check, pre-employment criminal background checkThis week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated guidelines regarding employers’ use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions. The ruling was made pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The new guidance updates and clarifies the EEOC’s previous policy, in an effort to help job seekers, employees and employers. The report discusses how using criminal history reports could violate Title VII, how federal court decisions analyzing Title VI as applied to criminal records, compliance with other federal laws that restrict or prohibit employing individuals with certain criminal records, and the differences between treatment of arrest and conviction records, among other topics.

While little of the guidance document is new, it does consolidate a series of documents in one place. One HR group spokesperson said it does not appear “to impose a one-size fits-all set of rules” and seems to consider employers’ disparate needs and concerns when using criminal background checks for pre-employment screening.

However, there appear to be potential conflicts between this document and state laws that require criminal background checks in certain industries and positions.

Among the groups showing support for the new guidance include civil rights law groups. One issued a statement saying that it will “greatly reduce the misuse of criminal history background checks to deny employment to persons of color,” because the guidance strengthens enforcement efforts against employers who are not using criminal background checks properly.

A Q and A page on the EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance can be found here. It reinforces that Title VII does not prohibit employers from obtaining criminal background reports on job applicants.

Employee Theft Hits Retailers Hard

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

employee background check, pre-employment screening, criminal background checkNationwide, retailers are feeling the pain of big losses due to theft—and it’s not all from shoplifters. More losses occur due to their own employees than to shoplifters, or even organized crime, according to a recent report.

The National Retail Security Survey (NRSS) revealed that in 2010, shoplifting and organized retail crime accounted for about 31% of inventory shrinkage, while thefts by employees made up a whopping 45% of losses. Another 14% of shrinkage was due to administrative error, while vendor fraud was 4% of the total.

News reports are full of employees stealing clothing, perfume, cosmetics, athletic shoes, housewares and sporting goods, and selling it on eBay, Craig’s list and other websites. In other cases, office employees with access to cash are often charged with embezzlement, or cashiers are accused of loading store debit and credit cards with cash amounts.

According to the NRSS survey, about half of gift card losses were due to dishonest employees in 2010. And it seems employees are working together to rip off their employers: the report states about 18% of internal theft cases involved collusion. Some collaborate to ring up purchases for less than the regular price, then return the merchandise later, pocketing the full amount in cash.

With sophisticated cameras and anti-theft devices, how can employees get away with stealing so much inventory from retailers? The answer is not an easy one. Each time new technology is developed, it seems, someone finds a way to circumvent it.

Loss prevention experts say employee theft is all about “opportunity.” Controlling opportunities helps cut down employee theft. Setting standards, using controls and watching employees who are suspected of wrongdoing are all important.

With the average employee theft case totaling $996, compared to shoplifting cases averaging $337, retailers have the incentive to prevent employee theft whenever possible. One way to help protect any business from employee theft is to know the background and criminal history on each new hire, by conducting thorough background checks and pre-employment screening!

Preventing Violence in the Workplace

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

employee prescreening, employee criminal background checkA new survey by AlliedBarton Security Services reveals that more than half of Americans have had an experience with workplace violence. The survey of 1,030 adults reported that 52% of respondents witnessed, heard about or experienced a violent event or an event that can lead to violence at their place of work. Typical incidents that lead to violence include hostility, threats and abusive language that can intensify to physical injury.

Twenty-eight percent of workers surveyed said that at their current job, they have been personally affected by these types of incidents or violence. Another 12% have witnessed, heard about or are aware of significant harm to others at their jobs, while 5% reported they have personally been affected by this type of incident.

The survey also asked workers how they felt about safety on the job. Fully one-third said they are very or somewhat concerned with their personal safety. In contrast, 29% of workers who experienced, witnessed or heard about an incident of violence neither reported it nor took any other action.

The survey also found that, while the vast majority of employers (94%) took some action as a result of reports of workplace violence, only 53% took disciplinary action. The percentage of employers who implement training for workers or supervisors was also low (45% and 35%, respectively).

Experiencing violent incidents on the job can encourage employees to seek a new position. According to the survey, 28% of those who know about or experience workplace violence are looking for a new job, compared to 17% of those who have not.

Employers owe it to their workers to provide a safe and healthy work environment. It starts by paying attention to the culture of the workplace, and instilling good practices and procedures. A no-tolerance approach to bullying, abusive language and inappropriate behavior, backed up by disciplinary action for every incident, will empower all employees to help prevent workplace violence before it happens.

And don’t neglect to conduct thorough pre-employee screening on each prospective employee. Knowing an applicant’s criminal history is vital to keeping your workplace and employees safe from potential harm.

A safe workplace sees less turnover and higher morale, and increased productivity. And it’s what every employee deserves.