Voila! Background Checks at CU

The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that the University of Colorado will now perform background checks on employees in the wake of an incident earlier this week where a student was stabbed by a school employee.

Do you think the folks from CU read our blog from yesterday or do you think they just arrived at the decision that performing employment background checks before such an incident occurs is better than doing so after the fact? Hopefully, they won’t cut corners and instead perform a thorough and extensive search on all candidates.

Now that we’ve cleared this up, can anyone put me touch with the folks at CU? I’m sure I know someone who can help them with their efforts.

8/29/2007 Fishman Named Guest Contributor at Xtra Cheezhead

The folks over at Cheezhead were crazy enough to ask us to participate in their newest endeavor, Xtra Cheezhead, and contrary to our assertion that we didn’t know what we were talking about, we agreed. Xtra Cheezhead is an extension of its parent recruiting blog and offers posts from outside experts on subject matter relevant those in HR and Recruiting. Nick Fishman, employeescreenIQ Chief Marketing Officer was asked to be the guest contributor in the background employment screening area and will post entries throughout the year.

Background Checks Proposed After Incident at University of Colorado

This is interesting. The Chicago Tribune reports that a Freshman at the University of Colorado was stabbed by a school employee on his first day of classes. Quite a way of welcoming an incoming student, don’t you think? What I find interesting is that the school has promised to do a background check on the employee now that he has committed this act. Anyone scratching their head over this? Now who knows if this individual has anything on his record, but at by doing it beforehand the school would at least have that to rely on. See the article below.

As teen heals, issues about attacker linger
17-year-old released from hospital after knifing on Colorado campus

You would think that the tragedy at Virginia Tech last Spring might have caused universities to rethink their policies. At least that incident involved a student, not an employee of the university.

Guest Contributor on Xtra Cheezhead

The folks over at Cheezhead were crazy enough to ask us to participate in their newest endeavor, Xtra Cheezhead and contrary to our assertion that we didn’t know what we were talking about, we agreed. Xtra Cheezhead is an extension of its parent recruiting blog and offers posts from outside experts on relevant subject matter. We were asked to be the guest contributor in the background employment screening area and we made our first entry today. Enjoy and feel free to applaud, critique or tell us what clowns we are whenever you feel the need.

Employment Screening and Criminal Background Checks New York

I alluded to something called the Office of Court Administration (OCA) in a post earlier this week concerning criminal background checks in the state of New York. The OCA is a topic that affects any employer that wishes to conduct a background check in New York. It is especially abhorred by those that primarily hire in this area.

The OCA was established in July, 2003 as a way to consolidate court records from each of New York’s Upper and Lower Courts. Many, including myself believe that the allure of doing so was to create a lucrative revenue stream. Upon it’s creation 16 counties including the New York City burroughs disallowed access to their records, instead directing those seeking public records to the OCA. Further, the lower county and municiple courts shut off access as well.

What is the OCA good for? The OCA is a one-stop shop for a criminal background check. One search will give will every felony and misdemeanor conviction for the entire state. Furthermore, results are usually reported within 24 hours. You would think employers would be bowing to the state for creating such a system.

Here’s the rub. The state decided to charge an access fee of $52.00 per name. Homer Simpson might say “DOH!”. This is by far and away the largest access fee charged in the country for obtaining a public record and can make the process of employment screening cost prohibitive for some employers. And by the way, that’s just the access fee. That doesn’t cover the fee employers pay to the Consumer Reporting Agency (background checking company).

Is there a way around it? No. If your applicant has lived in one of the 16 counties that has completely shut off access, this is the only game in town. If the applicant has lived in a county that does not block access, they can do a felony-only search in that county’s Upper Court. While this will produce felony records, misdemeanors cannot be identified without utilizing the OCA system.

Here’s a list of OCA-only Counties:
New York

Background Checks for the General Public

(CBS) NEW YORK Your child’s soccer coach, your landscaper, the handyman? Do you know who these people are?

“There are essentially unhealthy people out there, predators that come into our lives looking like and acting like they’re just good natured people,” said security expert, Robert Siciliano. So to be sure you know who you’re dealing with, take your own precautions.

More – Including footage from employeescreenIQ President Jason B. Morris

This Just In! Employers are Perforning Background Checks

Okay. So maybe this isn’t new news, but the story never gets old. Two Stamford, CT based HR Consulting firms released a study that shows that 65% of the companies in Fairfield county and the metro New York area conduct background checks. The findings were published in the Greenwich Time. See link to article below.


While the study doesn’t point this out, I think this news is noteworthy because those that conduct background checks in New York are subject to exhorbitant court access fees. For those of you unfamilar, New York established the Office of Court Administration (OCA) to act as a clearinghouse for criminal records in the the state of New York. The price tag for the privledge of this information: $52.00! (More on the OCA in a post later this week.)

Anyway, it is encouraging to see that these outrageous fees are not making it cost-prohibitive for employers to perform proper due diligence on their job applicants.

Background Checks for Teachers Not Cutting It

I just put my daughter on the school bus to go to kindergarten for the very first time and I actually made it through without having to be restrained from accompanying her or from being put in a straight jacket. As I drove to work, I thought about all the people we as parents entrust our children to when they go to school. Teachers, school administration, the bus driver, maintainance workers, etc. Because I am in the business of employment screening, I am acutely aware of the substandard searches required by the states and executed by the schools. So obviously I was looking at an excuse to rail on the system as I have for some time now. Only now, it’s very real to me and very personal.

Imagine my surprise (not!) when I saw this article where the State Auditor in Missouri says more thorough background checks need to be conducted. I am impressed that an employee in this state is actually admitting that there is a problem and trust me when I tell you that this problem exists in every state. They say that they’ve used the state mandated FBI Check and a Central Registry Child Abuse Search, but it’s not enough. And they’re 100% right. It’s not enough for anyone working with children.

So why hasn’t anyone done anything up to this point? Two reasons: enlightenment that the methods the state imposes is just one resource and does not constitute a thorough check. Secondly, and here’s the big one: funding. Where will they get the money to conduct a thorough check? It seems to me that if a state can fund bridges and road construction, not to mention pork barrel spending attached to every bill, that surely they could find a budget that wouldn’t cost more than $100 per school worker. Relatively speaking, the total annual spend would be a drop in the bucket.

Here’s hoping someone takes action.

California Regulations on Background Checks Backfire for FedEx

For those outside the state of California, you might be surprised to learn that employers can only consider criminal convictions on an applicant’s record that have taken place within the past seven years. The state enacted these laws to help those with past convictions on their records get on with their lives and to remove the potential barriers to employment. Seems like a pretty noble cause until you consider what has recently taken place at FedEx.

FedEx Fires Employee, An Unregistered Sex Offender

FedEx claims to have conducted a background check on an employee that had a forcible rape conviction on their record from 1978, and they probably did. The problem is that when they conducted the check, due to the California law, they weren’t allowed to see the past conviction; and even if they were allowed to, they couldn’t consider it. The employee made it even more difficult by failing to register as a convicted sex offender and FedEx only found out when authorities caught up with him for failing to do so. This has obviously created an embarrassing situation for FedEx and could have put them in hot water should something have happened.

If you ever read this blog, I know I’m going to sound like a broken record, but you have to trust employers with this information so that they can make an informed decision that insulates their employees, their customers and their business from negative incidents. I think that the state of California’s inclination to wipe the slate clean on past convicts has merits, but it’s got to be balanced with what can happen if you don’t allow the information to be considered.