The great news is that the federal government has announced plans to develop and launch a national database of sexual offender registries compiled of information provided from each of the 48 states that have such a program. This program will allow U.S. citizens, law enforcement agencies and non-profit organizations to check one database for known sex offenders at no cost. If the database is able to aggregate real-time data from each of the participating states, this service can do tremendous good in our communities. For instance, local youth sports leagues can utilize the database before accepting coaches and other volunteers. Law enforcement personnel have another tool to identify those in the community that might prey upon our children.
Unfortunately, employers are not included on the list of those who can use the information found in this national database. While statewide sexual offender registry information can still be obtained by employers in the 48 states where it is available, the search can only be done on a state-by-state basis. This means that as a best practice, employers should continue to search the registry in each state that their applicants have lived, work or gone to school.
Over the last several years, substance abuse screening trends indicated that the use of Methamphetamine was rising rapidly in the workforce. For a while, our country was seeing double digit increases of meth use in the workplace. Even among our clientele, we have noticed that the largest jump in positive drug test results could be attributed to this particular drug. However, according to a recent AP Wire report, Employer Drug Testing Slows Spread of Use , the use of this dangerous drug is finally stabilizing and will likely begin to decline based on actions taken by the DEA.
It is important to note that while the use of Meth appears to be in decline, overall illegal drug use remains the same. Employers must still be diligent in protecting themselves when hiring employees. The use of substance abuse screening in the workplace continues to increase and this is a trend that should and will continue.
A recent article featured in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Teacher Accused of Attempted Murder Wrote Self-Profile that Counters Image raises a very interesting question as it relates to the use of admissibility of personal on-line postings as a tool for pre-employment screening. According to the story, a school teacher in Missouri is now standing trial for murder. After some some initial digging, investigators found that the teacher had posted a personal profile on an on-line forum where he indicated that his hobbies include "pimping, prostitutes and pornography". While freedom of speech is a tenant we hold very dearly in this country, can the language one uses be held against him or her when they are looking for a job? It can easily be demonstrated that the language used above can be grounds not to hire someone a school would entrust to teach children, but should such language preclude an individual from getting a manufacturing job, for example.
Another question to be raised is one based on persona. How does one prove that role playing wasn’t taking place at the time of a posting and that these are the genuine feelings or thoughts of the individual? I don’t have the answer to these questions, but you can be sure that significant cases are forth coming which will highlight this very issue sooner rather than later.