Posts Tagged ‘pre employment screening’

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, 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

Are You Vulnerable to Employee Theft?

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

employment screening, employee background check, pre-employment screeningLast week, we reported on employee theft in retailing, and a recent report that stated that more losses occur due to employee theft than to than to shoplifters.

Any business is vulnerable to theft by employees, whether you’re selling widgets or washing machines. You don’t even have to be in the business of selling merchandise to be victimized by employees who steal.

Here are some examples of what dishonest employees may take out the door:

Trade Secrets: Employers who build successful businesses have done so because they do things a certain way, or offer a service or product that people want. If you’ve “built a better mousetrap” by instituting procedures or systems that work, your competition will likely want to know how you did it. What better way to find out than through an employee or former employee? And often, employees leave to start their own competing businesses, built on the successful model someone else worked hard to create.

Unearned pay: Employees with access to payroll systems can falsify work records to generate higher paychecks for themselves or their buddies.

Sensitive Data: Your company files are a treasure trove for identity thieves. Sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card numbers, birthdates and family information can help identity thieves access credit and wreck your or your employees’ finances.

Money: Countless businesses are victimized by employees—from unscrupulous bookkeepers to petty thieves—who skim cash out of the bank account or cash register. Watch for issues around drug or alcohol abuse, or complaints about not getting paid enough. If an employee’s lifestyle changes, with frequent purchases of expensive items or vacations, take a close look at your books. Be careful to conduct all due diligence before making any accusations.

Productivity: If your employees are average, they may be visiting social media sites or conducting personal business on the clock, causing you a loss of productivity.

Workplace theft is a serious problem for employers. The best guards against it are strong policies and procedures that are backed up by action. Stay on top of what’s going on in your business and immediately deal with any infractions of your theft policies. When other employees see theft is not tolerated, they’ll get the message.

Florida Workplace Violence Happens After Termination

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

pre-employment screening, employee background checkEarlier this week, a tragic ending to an employee termination occurred at a private school in Jacksonville, Florida, when a just-fired teacher returned to the school and shot the head of the school and then himself. The gunman, Shane Schumerth, was a Spanish teacher at the school.

It appears that the firing meeting took place away from students and with a witness. The terminated teacher was then escorted off campus; security was informed and a guard was placed at the school’s entrance.

The school had a full time Director of Safety and Security, and implemented security measures such as video surveillance, security gates and a digital patrol system that ensured required safety patrols were completed each day.

However, the former teacher was able to gain access to the administrator’s office by going through the football field. He carried an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle and nearly 100 rounds of ammunition in a guitar case.

Officials say this sort of tragedy cannot be prevented—especially when the individual gives no warning, and is determined to hurt someone. This school did all the right things: badges are required of all visitors; classroom cameras, intercoms and panic buttons are connected to the main office; gates are closed and locked at night.

Still, while a random act of violence can’t be prevented, a tragedy like this is a wake-up call for all employers. Termination procedures should include notification to all staff that the fired employee is no longer allowed on site, as well as instructions on what to do if he or she is seen on the premises.

Security badges must be deactivated immediately. Managers should pay extra attention, and be extra sensitive, to any unstable or unusual behavior by an employee before, during or after the termination process. If they feel the employee could be a threat, everyone should be notified so they can be on guard.

And don’t wait until termination to deal with an unstable or threatening employee. Suspending the person while an investigation takes place is always an option.

Be sure that hiring procedures include thorough pre-employment screening. It’s vital to know who you’re hiring, and to screen potential employees for past criminal activity, felony convictions, sex offenses and work history.

How Does Your Hiring Process Compare?

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

employee screening, employee background checkMost employers have a typical hiring process of advertising a position, weeding out applications, conducting interviews and hiring the best-fit candidate. However, there are extra steps in the process that you may be overlooking that could help your company hire better-quality employees, and even reduce your turnover.

Screening applicant resumes: While the number of applicants for a given position may affect resume review, there are some standard procedures you can implement to help make the best choice:

  • First, make a list of your must-have and can-live-without qualities for your new hire. Is following the instructions for applying for the position absolutely critical? If you asked for a cover letter and an otherwise-standout resume is missing it, will it be tossed?
  • Next, to avoid reading every word on every resume, determine what keywords best describe the employee you need to hire, and then scan resumes for those words.
  • Be sure to apply the same parameters and requirements to every applicant.

Start conducting phone interviews: The purpose of a phone interview is to be certain a candidate understands the job description and requirements, and that the salary range aligns with their expectations. If it’s not a good fit for either side, going further is a waste of time.

Phone interviews are also a good way to determine if the candidate has the communication skills necessary for the position. If they’re applying for a customer service job, but cannot establish a good rapport over the phone, they will probably not be successful.

First-round interviews are typically the next step, for applicants who pass the initial screening and do well on the phone interview. Expect to spend 45 minutes to an hour with each candidate; if the interview is not going well and needs to be cut short, you may have a problem with your process up to this point. If the candidate is not a good fit or not qualified for the job, the resume screening and phone interview should have revealed this.

Follow up after the interview: Be polite—it can pay off! The frustration of job seekers can be exacerbated when they don’t hear anything after an interview. It’s just as important to make a good impression on potential employees as it is for them to make a good impression on you. Once you’ve eliminated a candidate from contention sure to send a brief email thanking him or her for their time and informing them that another candidate was selected.

Why is this so important? You never know what can happen, whether your first choice candidate declines the job offer, or you decide you’ve made a hiring mistake a month in. Plus, it’s all about your company’s brand—do you want to be known as a professional and polite firm or the onethat leaves people hanging? Developing good relationships with everyone who comes in contact with your company is a great way to spread goodwill.

Make the decision: When it’s time to choose the applicant who will join your company as an employee, look for enthusiasm and culture fit. If a candidate has the same basic skills as four other applicants, but is pumped up about coming to work and excelling, you probably have a winner. Before making the hire offer, be sure to conduct a pre-employment screening to ensure that the candidate’s credit and criminal history are clean. Keep your other employees and your company safe from potential harm with pre-employment background checks.

Keeping Good Employees

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

pre employment screening, employee background checkA recent survey of 1,400 workers by a Philadelphia management firm reported that 84 percent of respondents said they plan to seek a new job in 2011. What would happen if you surveyed your employees? Would the number be that high? And if they all resigned, how would your company look after the exodus?

Employers know that finding and keeping great employees is one of the toughest aspects of running a business. It takes a great deal of resources—both time and money—to hire a new employee, and there are no guarantees that a new hire will stick around long enough for the company to recoup its investment.

The tough economy has added to employee dissatisfaction. Working conditions at many companies have been difficult, with fewer employees doing the same amount of work. Benefits and hours have been cut, too, leaving plenty of people ready to jump ship as soon as hiring starts up again.

What can an employer do to keep a good employee from jumping ship? And how can one avoid a surprise batch of turnovers?

Listen and observe your staff. Do you see general apathy? A lack of enthusiasm for new tasks? Are people coming in late and leaving early? Your employees may be trying to tell you that all is not well.

Try moving people around to different positions. Cross training can perk up and employee, make their job more interesting and keep him or her from looking for a new job.

Engage your staff more often. If you need fresh ideas on how to improve sales, cut costs or increase customer satisfaction, hold a brainstorming session to get everyone’s input. Who knows your business and customers better than your staff? Asking for their help builds value.

Remember that keeping a good employee longer starts with recruitment. Hire for a great attitude and provide tools a new employee needs to succeed. And don’t overlook the importance of pre-employment screening. It’s the best way to know that you’re hiring a qualified and trustworthy employee and building a strong team.

Criminal Employees Slipping through the Cracks

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

criminal employee falls through the cracksOne might think that the Capitol Police Department would know enough about criminals, persons of risk and habitual liars to avoid placing them on their staff. But last year, halfway through a 12-week training period, fifteen newly-hired recruits were asked to return to DC and resign—or be fired. The problem? They had either lied on their application, failed a criminal background check, or failed a psychological examination—but were hired anyway!

Despite what the Capitol Police describe as a “stringent recruiting process,” including a written exam, application review, interviews, background investigation, polygraph, medical exam and psychological evaluation, each of the fifteen recruits had made it through the hiring process. The result? Not only was the HR Director fired, but also affected were the fifteen families that had been relocated from all over the country. Fortunately, even more damage was prevented by the forced resignations—who knows what could have resulted from hiring these fifteen officers?

In another case, an adult home in Virginia was ordered to pay $750,000 to a disabled resident after he was sexually assaulted by a Certified Nursing Assistant employed there. The CNA had a criminal history before he was hired, and continued to rack up charges, including assault and battery and public intoxication while working for the facility.

Another scary example includes a teacher hired to teach middle school in Nashville, TN, even though he had been suspended from another Tennessee school system after allegations surfaced that he was engaging in misconduct with minors. Even more shocking is the fact that the teacher was hired despite having outstanding warrants for his arrest on sexual battery and rape charges. Not surprisingly, at the new middle school, he was accused of additional crimes involving two 14 and 15 year old students.

Hiring employees is no easy task; there are many risks involved, too.  Employers must take every available precaution when hiring staff, especially when the safety and well-being of at-risk populations, children, and the public are hanging in the balance. The lack of proper background screening in each of the above cases resulted in serious consequences for the employers—and unnecessary suffering for the innocent victims.

Pre Screening & Consumer Reports: 10 Mistakes Employers Make

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

law-and-magnifying-glass on employee screening blogAll employers must comply with the regulations of the Federal Consumer Reporting Act (FCRA)–whether you have one employee or one thousand!  Make sure you’re in compliance, and avoid making these common mistakes:

1. Using social media sites or a Google search as a background check: Browsing an applicant’s Facebook or MySpace page, or researching them through an internet search engine does not equal a background check.

2. Performing the background check yourself: Employers must ensure they are in compliance with the FCRA. The best, easiest way to accomplish this is by using the services of a reputable background screening company.

3. Burying the screening approval language in the application: You must provide a separate document to obtain the applicant’s approval for credit and background checks.

4. Failing to obtain the applicant’s signature: Applicant signatures must be obtained before you run any type of credit checks.

5. Improper disclosure when rejecting an applicant: If you reject an applicant because of poor credit history, provide them a copy of their credit report, along with the reason they will not be hired.

6. Failure to obtain permission from online applicants: You cannot simply state online that you will be performing a background screening and/or credit check—you must have an electronic approval from the applicant.

7. Inconsistency: You cannot require a background and credit check for some applicants, but not others. Inconsistent policy enforcement could lead to accusations of discrimination.

8. Believing that FCRA doesn’t apply: Even small employers are subject to the law. There is no distinction made between a one-person business and a huge corporation.

9. Not obtaining permission from current employees: If you decide to run credit checks on your employees after they were hired, you must disclose your intention and get their approval in writing.

10. Improper disposal of information: Employers must comply with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA), an amendment to the FCRA. This law requires proper disposal for information contained in or derived from a consumer report. That means no tossing reports in the trash can—they must be shredded or otherwise destroyed so they cannot be reconstructed. Digital information must be destroyed before a computer is sold or donated.

Fair Credit Reporting Act: What Employers Need to Know

Monday, May 4th, 2009

law-and-magnifying-glass on CriminalData.comWhat do employers need to know about complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)? It may seem unlikely that you would have to worry about legislation designed to protect consumers against unlawful use of their credit and personal information. But you must comply with FCRA if you:

Want to check the credit history of an applicant for a cash-handling position;

Intend to promote a long-term employee, but want to be certain they have a good credit record;

Have already obtained a credit history on a job applicant, which is unfavorable; however, it is a lack of experience, not the credit record, that impacts your decision to not hire this person.

Employers are entitled to run consumer credit reports on applicants or existing employees at any time, providing they comply with the FCRA. Employers who use consumer reports have legal obligations under FCRA, which was designed to prevent applicants from being denied jobs or employees being denied promotions unjustly.

You cannot obtain a consumer report until employees or applicants have given their written permission for you to do so. This cannot be accomplished on the employment application.  A separate disclosure must contain the proper notification, and the employee must sign it.  If employees gave permission in the past, you must ensure that they receive a separate notice stating that reports may be obtained over the course of their employment. 

So, what if you didn’t include the disclosure and obtain permission during the hiring process and now you want to run reports on your employees? You must notify employees and get their written permission before you run the reports.

Who can supply pre employment screening reports to ensure an employer is in compliance? To be covered by FCRA, employers must use employee screening reports provided by a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA). The reports can range from simple credit checks to criminal, housing, employment, and driving record checks. 

The FCRA requires employers to comply with reporting requirements. These include: 

Certifying that the employer is obtaining information for employment purposes;
The proper disclosure has been provided to and written authorization has been obtained from the applicant or employee; 
The applicant or employee will be provided with a copy of the report;
And the information will not be used in violation of equal opportunity laws.

What happens if you deny an applicant or a promotion based on information you obtained from a CRA? 

Before you take adverse action, such as terminating an employee, or denying a job or a promotion, you must give the individual a pre-adverse action disclosure, including a copy of their consumer report and a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” This document can be provided by your CRA.

After you have taken adverse action, you are required to give the individual notice, either orally, electronically, or in writing, that the action has been taken. The notice must include the name, address and phone number of the CRA that supplied the report, as well as a statement that the CRA did not make the decision for adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it. In addition, the individual must be notified that they have the right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of the information and their right to obtain a free report from the agency within 60 days.

For more information on pre employment screening, including everything you need to know about consumer and credit reports, go to

Small Companies Cannot Afford Bad Hires

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Bad Hires can Break up Great Teams

Bad Hires can Break up Great Teams

Even one bad hire can have a huge impact.  A friend recently shared the story of a “nightmare” she once worked with at a small Midwest company. At the time, small teams interviewed each potential hire, and the boss made the final decision based on the group’s evaluation. In the case of the “nightmare,” everyone liked and recommended her. Except my friend.

Turned out she was right. The candidate looked perfect on paper and interviewed extremely well, but proved to be a dividing force with a biting personality. No one could work with her and the boss stood by his decision for far too long. She wasn’t dealt with until several long-term employees had already resigned—but by then she had nearly destroyed the entire company.

It’s very easy to be deluded by a perfect-sounding resume and a charismatic interviewee.  The trouble starts when those factors alone make up the hiring decision. In my friend’s case, the employment offer was made before proper reference checks were performed. Oops!  Finally, my friend did some sleuthing into the “nightmare’s” background, and found she overstated her education and understated her experience.  Phone calls were made to former employers, who said they wouldn’t recommend or rehire her.  But by then, it was too late—the good people had already left.

The story sounded unbelievable, but was 100% true—and it happens every day. It proves how overlooked policies—in this case, checking all references—can lead to real disaster. 

An easy way to avoid bad hires is to require background checks on all applicants. You can verify education, previous employment, military service, even credit—in one easy step.  And in my friend’s case, the “nightmare” with the false credentials probably wouldn’t have agreed to the pre employment screening—a big red flag in itself!

Don’t risk your company’s security to a single bad hire. Make pre employment background checks a standard policy for every single hiring decision!