3/28/08 Fourth District of Appeals Court Reverses Decision

A panel of California judges has overturned the ruling of a subordinate court the said that an employer (AutoZone) was not liable for the actions of an employee when he assaulted and struck a customer while at work. The full ruling (below) is a bit cloudy because it seems to suggest that AutoZone should have been able to predict this employee’s behavior. However, they made reference to the fact that juvenile records are inaccessible to employers, suggesting that the employee (Erwin Gomez) had some of type of conviction for which he was tried as a juvenile. If there was a juvenile record, AutoZone could have never obtained it as part of the employment screening process (if in fact they ever conducted a background check).

One thing that was mentioned and I would think factored into the decision is a prior verbal altercation the employee had three years earlier with a customer.

We’ll try to get a better account of the exact facts in the coming days.

Read a full summary of the ruling here . . .

employeescreenIQ will be exhibiting at the Staffing Management Conference in Nashville

Will we see you in Nashville at the SHRM’s Staffing Management Conference held at the Opryland Hotel? employeescreenIQ will be in attendance and exhibiting April 14th-16th. Please stop by our booth. If our charming personalities aren’t enough to win you over, we’ll have something free to giveaway and a chance to win American Express Gift Cards.

We’ve heard from our friends at SHRM that this year’s conference will be attended by more HR professionals than ever! We can also surmise there might be a few companies that provide background checks. The first few years we exhibited at conference formerly know as EMA there might have been a couple screeners. Nowadays, there are considerably more causing us to speculate that they may soon change the name of the conference again to the Background Screening Conference (wonder if I can trademark that?). We look forward to seeing you there.

BTW, anyone have a recommendation for the best BBQ joint in Nashville?

Employment Screening 101: National Criminal Searches-Part 3

Today, we will explore the benefits of the National Database Criminal Search, a service that has kindled much debate over the last ten years. What was once a threat to a comprehensive accurate criminal search has become a valuable tool in employment screening. If you read this past Friday’s post on Countywide Felony & Misdemeanor Searches you would have a good understanding of how an accurate criminal search is conducted in the United States. However, in the past few years National Criminal Searches have improved as they have compiled more and more records.

Before reading further, it is important to read the following disclaimer: We in no way, shape or form recommend the National Database Search as the primary or only resource for conducting criminal background checks. It is simply a valuable complimentary tool for conducting a more thorough search.

These National Criminal Searches are basically aggregates of millions of records from various sources in the United States. These records are obtained by these commercial vendors from several different sources including: County Court Houses, State Departments of Incarcerations, State Record Repositories, Probation Departments, Townships, Sex Offender Registries etc.. This blog posting will not be about why you should NOT use these databases as a standalone search. Instead, it will demonstration why you should consider this type of search IF AND ONLY IF you do it properly.

The Negligent Hiring Doctrine basically says “If you could have known, you should have known”. Adding a National Criminal Search onto a comprehensive County Search is quickly becoming a standard and arguably a good one. Our estimate is that even the best National Criminal Search holds about 5% to 8% of all the reportable offenses in the U.S. . We have done the tests and even when taking a small sample of 300-400 applicants, a few major offenses would have been missed had a National Criminal Search not been conducted. The numbers don’t lie. For the cost of one additional County Criminal Search; major criminal records would have been missed.

There are FCRA implications to consider. Section 613 of the FCRA identifies two ways a CRA can report negative information. The first is to use what is called “Contemporaneous Notice”: basically notify the consumer that something negative was found on the report and to dispute it they must go back to the screening firm to correct it. Many of us, myself included, feel this is an unfair practice and in many cases will unfairly eliminate someone from consideration for a position. The second method is simple; make sure the information is accurate and reportable before reporting it to the end user. This is a practice subscribed to by most of us in the retail employment screening marketplace. We have had many NAPBS discussions about this and most of us agree that this is the best practice and thus the most fair for consumers.

What does this mean in English? When a possible criminal hit is found in the National Criminal Search, take that record and validate its existence by going to the source, the county courthouse. Once it is confirmed that its disposition is accurate and it does in fact belong to the subject you are checking, it will be reported.

In conclusion, when developing the criminal component of your employment screening program, begin with a Social Security Number Trace. Identify all the places the subject has lived, worked and attended school and all the names they have used. Take this information and conduct a Countywide Criminal Search. In addition consider including a National Criminal Search. You have the tools at your disposal. Using them properly allows you to rest easier at night knowing you have a safer working environment.

Morris to Speak at Recruiting Road Show (Completed)

[Recruiting Road Show](http://recruitingroadshow.wordpress.com/)- April 28th, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio at [Main Sequence Technology Inc.’s](http://mainsequence.net) corporate headquarters.
(Speaking Engagement)

Jason B. Morris will discuss Trends in Employment Screening: What Recruiting Professionals Need to Know. The Recruiting Roadshow™ delivers continuing education for Recruiters. All Recruiting Roadshow™ events are free, sponsored by companies who are committed to improving the industry.

Security Checks of U.S. Education Contractors to Change

I found this article while reading Education Week, I found it very interesting and hope you do too!

Researcher Andrew A. Zucker was designing a federally financed study of middle school science teaching two years ago when he came up against new U.S. Department of Education security rules that would have required him to undergo fingerprinting and an extensive background check.


Employment Screening 101: Countywide Felony & Misdemeanor Searches-Part 2

Yesterday we explored the first component of a background check, the Social Security Number Trace (SSN Trace). Today we will explore the second step in an effective background check: the Countywide Felony and Misdemeanor search. Sometimes companies are confused as to which type of criminal search is the most accurate and most effective. We will explore many types of criminal searches in this series.  There is no question however, that this type of search is the gold standard. While not 100% accurate it offers users the most in-depth type of search available in the United States today. Convictions occur in the courts.  The further away you get from the actual data source the more diluted the results become. This is why it is so critical that these searches are conducted by hand, by a trained court researcher.

This search consists of an on-site manual search of the superior, upper, lower, and/or municipal court records, in compliance with legally available research procedures, in each county court jurisdiction nationwide. Our network of professional court researchers covers all 3,500+ county court jurisdictions across the country, and will indicate if a subject has a felony or misdemeanor filing within the last seven years, or longer if the record includes a legally reportable conviction. Completed Reports consist of all available and legally reportable information, typically including date of arrest, date of filing, charges, level of the charges, disposition date and final disposition of the charges and any applicable sentence or penalty.

Some tips about Countywide Felony and Misdemeanor Searches:

· Some counties do not house driving offenses including DWI’s within their criminal court system. These offenses are adjudicated through traffic courts and are not considered criminal records. An MVR check is the best alternative

· Within an individual county, there can be as many as 15-20, or more, smaller town courts, where ordinance violations, minor misdemeanors, and citations are disposed of. Much like the scenario where a county courthouse does not share information electronically with a state capital or the federal government, these town courts may not regularly talk to the larger county court either

· Cases that have been expunged are eliminated from the public record will not be reported by the court

· Some courts do not provide information on cases that did not result in a conviction

· Some offenses, if a probationary period or pre-trial diversion program is successfully completed, are dismissed and considered by the court to have never happened. These cases are not publicly available

· Some courts restrict the amount of years they make information publicly available, and anything outside this scope requires dates of offense and case numbers

· Some courts make older case information available, but charge an exorbitant hourly fee for a court employee to do the research

Please continue to be confident that in almost every part of the country, the information you seek to make a hiring decision in confidence can and will be found by our criminal records researchers.

See Map Below of all 3500+ U.S. Counties:

US County Map

Irresponsible Advice About Background Checks

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it is just when opinion turns into advice that might harm someone that exception should be taken. Case in point, I just read an article that was published in a state of Washington newspaper: Employers Getting Nosier About Your Background. The writer gave a decent enough 10,000 ft. description of background checks and the FCRA, etc.

Where I think she might be doing harm to her readers is where she encourages job applicants to decline consent when an employer asks to conduct a background check. Sorry but for most employers, declining to do so immediately makes you ineligible for the job.

The author is concerned about the depth of information sought as if employers aren’t entitled to decide their own criteria for each job. She says “These standards {background checking standards} don’t address the fact that some businesses investigate candidates when they simply don’t need to. Far too many companies perform background checks on all job candidates, regardless of position. This means that some of you will be asked for immediate access to your private information, even if you don’t work with money, classified files or even other people.” Again, it is the prerogative of the private employers to decide what is important in their hiring decision and what is not.

She is also rightfully concerned about the prevalence of identity theft. However, information such Social Security Numbers and home addresses would be sought anyway at the time of employment. Lastly, she encourages those with concerns about background checks to find organizations that do not currently mandate them as part of the hiring process. What she forgets to mention is that those companies are the ones that are targeted by those with information they don’t want others to know. Background checks not only protect employers, they protect the employees who work for them. Weeding out violent offenders, for example, benefits not only the business owners, but also employees and customers alike.

I think she probably could have still gotten her point across and acted more responsibly by specifically stating that failure to consent would automatically terminate the chances of employment.

3/26/2008 Agency for Abused Children Skips Crime Checks on Workers, City Controller Says

[Agency for Abused Children Skips Crime Checks on Workers, City Controller Says (3/26/08) (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2008/03/26/2008-03-26_agency_for_abused_children_skips_crime_c-1.html)

New York Daily News*- BY KATHLEEN LUCADAMO A Brooklyn nonprofit paid by the city to help abused children didn’t do criminal background checks on workers and couldn’t prove …

[Read full story here . . .]( http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2008/03/26/2008-03-26_agency_for_abused_children_skips_crime_c-1.html)

Employment Screening 101: The Social Security Number Trace-Part 1

Today I will begin a twenty part series entitled “Employment Screening 101”. Well, we just launched the employeescreen University initiative so the 101 title is only fitting. This series will explore each of the services offered by employment screening companies and dissect the components and the outcome of that particular search. I have been in the employment screening industry for about 15 years; in 1999 we founded Background Information Services, Inc. which last year became employeescreenIQ. I do believe there has been an evolution in the services consumer reporting agencies provide, however the principles have remained the same; we help clients to confidently make intelligent hiring decisions.

The first element of any background check should be the Social Security Number Trace (SSN Trace). The SSN Trace is an incredibly valuable tool if used properly. Typically a SSN Trace is conducted using one of two sources, a trace using one of the three major credit bureaus; Experian, Transunion and Equifax or a database that aggregates from several different sources the aforementioned bureaus.

Using SSN Trace information, we are able to authenticate that the Social Security Number provided by your applicant is associated with an individual of the same name, that the approximate date of issue range of the SSN equates with your applicant’s birth date, and that the address history associated with that SSN corresponds with the areas of the country where your applicant has lived, worked, attended school, or spent other significant time. The SSN Trace is a crucial component of criminal history research as the address history is the roadmap used to select court jurisdictions that should be researched for criminal records. Additionally, the SSN Trace will provide any alias names that have been associated with that SSN; the same courts should be checked under all relevant and/or unique alias names. Any effective, reliable, and FCRA-compliant criminal background check begins with a SSN Trace.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2, The Countywide Felony and Misdemeanor Search!