Pam Devata on CORI Reform and Employment Background Checks

There have been a myriad of questions that have arise since Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick signed into law new reforms to the Commonwealth’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law that will have a significant impact on the state’s employers who conduct criminal background checks. To sort through the mess, we enlisted the help of Seyfarth Shaw labor and employment attorney, Pam Devata. Clearly, these reforms represent an effort to help those with criminal records find employment, but will this come at the expense of employers ability to make an informed hiring decision?

Check out our podcast below.

Listed below are some of the most critical changes that will take effect February 6, 2012:

  • Employers can no longer ask if an individual has been convicted of a crime on the initial job application (please note that this requirement is set to take effect November 4, 2010)
  • Felony convictions older than or prison sentences completed more than 10 years ago will be removed from the system as will misdemeanors older the 5 years
  • An employers can only take adverse action after they have presented the candidate with the CORI report
  • Any employer that conducts five or more background checks on an annual basis must have a written criminal offender record policy
  • Employers must dispose of an individual’s CORI report not more than 7 years after their last date of employment

Podcast on Illinois Restrictions of Employment Credit Reports

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill that takes away the right of the state’s employers to review a job candidate’s credit report as part of the employment screening process. Or does it? The new law will officially take affect on January 1, 2011, but is sure to create confusion because while it bans the use of credit reports for most, it allows their use for certain industries and positions. Check out some of the exemptions: “those with management responsibility, signing authority over as little as $100 or access to personal, financial and confidential information. It exempts law enforcement and financial institutions and has no effect on other kinds of background checks.” So is it illegal to run credit reports or not?

This move is sure to raise concerns in the business community among those who were using these reports responsibly to protect themselves and their customers alike.

To sort through the mess, we spoke with Seyfarth Shaw labor and employment attorney, Pam Devata. Check out our podcast below.

EmployeeScreenIQ’s Jason Morris to Speak at HR Florida Conference

EmployeeScreenIQ’s Jason B. Morris will be speaking at the HR Florida State Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort on August 31, 2010 (7am est).

Technology has dramatically changed the way we compete for talent and screen prospective employees, but nothing approaches the impact of social networking. With the widespread use of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites comes a new wave of legal liabilities for both recruiters and screeners. Other emerging technology threats include online diploma fraud, employment mills that manufacture work experience, screen scraping, and more. Employers need to develop best practices and policies in order to successfully manage Web 2.0 technologies.

Join EmployeeScreenIQ’s President and COO Jason Morris for an informative session about how to protect your company in the age of Facebook. You’ll learn which social networking sites are most popular with recruiters and applicants, and their impact on employment screening and the hiring process. Attendees will also learn how to develop a social media policy and spot the warning signs of diploma and employment mills. Finally, you’ll examine other Web 2.0 trends such as screen scraping and instant screening.

Is Increase in Drug Testing a Good Barometer for Job Growth?

TLNT’s John Hollon called me a couple weeks ago for my thoughts on an article published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that suggested a recent surge in employment drug testing could be a positive sign for employment growth. He wanted to know if I thought this was in fact an accurate indicator and if we were experiencing the same thing with employment background checks.  Check out his article below.

I’m always fascinated when people come up with innovative (some might say odd) indicators of a change in economic activity.

I can almost hear many of you out there — saying “Huh? What the hell is he talking about?” — but hang on for a moment and I’ll explain.

What I’m talking about, and what catches my eye, are simple, mundane activities that someone else takes a look at and says, “hey, this indicates future job growth and a positive economic change.”

Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, it’s got to do with the drug testing you make your serious job candidates go through. Who knew that now it wasn’t just a drug test but some huge barometer of job growth and an upswing in the economy?

Take a look at what I am talking about, from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Searching for signs of an improving economy, analysts have scratched their heads over statistics and surveyed the hearts of consumers. Now comes another hopeful indicator — the bladders of potential hires.

Pre-employment drug tests are rising significantly. Drug test companies in the Minneapolis area say numbers of such exams for new hires have doubled, or in one case, increased more than 500 percent, in the last year.

Some experts believe this could mean more companies in the Twin Cities area are hiring workers, at least temporarily. ”I think it’s a good sign,” Scott Anderson, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, said this week. “Certainly the direction is what we would like to see at this stage of recovery.”

So far, the theory seems to be holding true. Although the state’s unemployment remained flat at 6.8 percent, the private sector gained nearly 19,000 jobs in July — the most since April 2005.

And lest you think this is just some economic quirk that’s happening in the Twin Cities, the newspaper goes on to say that, “The trend is not just limited to Minnesota. The Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association said its members have noted improvements in the numbers of pre-employment drug test screenings.”

Plus, it seems that drug tests are a sign of job growth, at least in Minnesota, because state law “drug tests cannot be requested of an applicant until a contingent job offer is given, said Marshall Tanick, a Twin Cities employment lawyer.”

I asked Nick Fishman, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for EmployeeScreenIQ (and a guy who knows a lot about pre-employment testing) what he thought of this new barometer of job growth.

His response? “I don’t know how much you should really read into this,” he said. We’ve been screening a lot of candidates, but unemployment is where unemployment is…maybe it’s just a sign that we’re all using a lot more screening tools than we ever have before.”

Nick added that there does seem to be a big increase right now in people being hired for contract positions (instead of as regular employees), and perhaps that might be a contributing factor for the rise in pre-employment drug tests.

So after all of that said, is this a barometer of the economy and new job growth, or, just a sign of times that we shouldn’t read too much into?

Myself, I hope for the former but I’m also resigned to the fact that it is probably the latter. As much as I wish that pre-employment drug tests were some new and exciting way to forecast economic trends, I have to side with Minnesota state economist Tom Stinson who told the Star-Tribune, ”While it may be indicating a little strengthening of the economy, I don’t think it’s a real solid indicator.”

Yes, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, as Sigmund Freud so famously noted, and sometimes, a drug test is just a drug test, too.

8/19/2010 Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing the New Barometer for Job Growth?

August 19, 2010

Source
TLNT.com

Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing the New Barometer for Job Growth?

I’m always fascinated when people come up with innovative (some might say odd) indicators of a change in economic activity.

I can almost hear many of you out there — saying “Huh? What the hell is he talking about?” — but hang on for a moment and I’ll explain.

What I’m talking about, and what catches my eye, are simple, mundane activities that someone else takes a look at and says, “hey, this indicates future job growth and a positive economic change.”

Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, it’s got to do with the drug testing you make your serious job candidates go through. Who knew that now it wasn’t just a drug test but some huge barometer of job growth and an upswing in the economy?

Take a look at what I am talking about, from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Searching for signs of an improving economy, analysts have scratched their heads over statistics and surveyed the hearts of consumers. Now comes another hopeful indicator — the bladders of potential hires.

Pre-employment drug tests are rising significantly. Drug test companies in the Minneapolis area say numbers of such exams for new hires have doubled, or in one case, increased more than 500 percent, in the last year.

Some experts believe this could mean more companies in the Twin Cities area are hiring workers, at least temporarily. ”I think it’s a good sign,” Scott Anderson, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, said this week. “Certainly the direction is what we would like to see at this stage of recovery.”

So far, the theory seems to be holding true. Although the state’s unemployment remained flat at 6.8 percent, the private sector gained nearly 19,000 jobs in July — the most since April 2005.

And lest you think this is just some economic quirk that’s happening in the Twin Cities, the newspaper goes on to say that, “The trend is not just limited to Minnesota. The Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association said its members have noted improvements in the numbers of pre-employment drug test screenings.”

Plus, it seems that drug tests are a sign of job growth, at least in Minnesota, because state law “drug tests cannot be requested of an applicant until a contingent job offer is given, said Marshall Tanick, a Twin Cities employment lawyer.”

I asked Nick Fishman, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for EmployeeScreenIQ (and a guy who knows a lot about pre-employment testing) what he thought of this new barometer of job growth.

His response? “I don’t know how much you should really read into this,” he said. We’ve been screening a lot of candidates, but unemployment is where unemployment is…maybe it’s just a sign that we’re all using a lot more screening tools than we ever have before.”

Nick added that there does seem to be a big increase right now in people being hired for contract positions (instead of as regular employees), and perhaps that might be a contributing factor for the rise in pre-employment drug tests.

So after all of that said, is this a barometer of the economy and new job growth, or, just a sign of times that we shouldn’t read too much into?

Myself, I hope for the former but I’m also resigned to the fact that it is probably the latter. As much as I wish that pre-employment drug tests were some new and exciting way to forecast economic trends, I have to side with Minnesota state economist Tom Stinson who told the Star-Tribune, ”While it may be indicating a little strengthening of the economy, I don’t think it’s a real solid indicator.”

Yes, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, as Sigmund Freud so famously noted, and sometimes, a drug test is just a drug test, too.

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Job Applications Used in Identity Theft at Starbucks

I saw this on our local NBC news affiliate last night.  It appears that applicants for open positions at Starbucks at Cleveland Hopkins Airport were having their identities stolen.  Candidates were submitting their job applications which included their Social Security Numbers.  An employee was using that Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to compromise their identities while racking up over $115,000 in fraudulent credit card charges.  Many employers only ask for this critical information when a decision to hire is made and a background check is ready to be run.  The story supports the fact that background checks have been on the rise since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Northeast Ohio: Starbucks job applications used in identity theft

CLEVELAND — We’ve heard identity theft  cases involving dumpster dives, over the shoulder wandering eyes in the checkout line, and even toddlers targeted for their personal information.

The U.S. Attorney has an indictment against a woman that allegedly stole from the unemployed. Information was lifted from where they’re most vulnerable — job applications.

For Hyde Park Restaurants, the process of protecting employee identities starts with the application.

“What we’re looking for is past job experiences and personal references,” General Manager Jason Crawford said.

Private information, such as a birthdate or Social Security number, is obtained only after an applicant has been offered the job. Such sensitive documentation never stays on the premises.

More


FTC Seeks to Alter Forms Needed to Conduct Background Checks

The FTC has announced that they are proposing revisions to the notices that consumer reporting agencies (such as employment screening firms) provide to consumers, and to users and furnishers of credit report information under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

The proposed changes seek to alter the consent and authorization form needed to conduct an employee check as well as the “Summary of Your Rights” document which must be provided to the job applicants before a background check can be conducted.

See notice from FTC below.

The Federal Trade Commission is proposing revisions to the notices that consumer reporting agencies provide to consumers, and to users and furnishers of credit report information under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA requires the FTC to publish model notices for several forms that must be provided by consumer reporting agencies. The proposed changes are designed to reflect new rules that the FTC and other financial regulators have enacted under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, and to make the notices more useful and easier to understand.

In addition to revising the general Summary of Rights notice, which informs consumers about their FCRA rights, such as how to obtain a free credit report and dispute inaccurate information in credit reports, the FTC also is proposing improvements to the notices that credit reporting agencies provide to users and furnishers of credit report information. The User Notice and Furnisher Notice inform users and furnishers of their obligation to provide certain protections to consumers. The model notices were originally issued in 1997 and revised in 2004. The FTC is accepting public comments on the proposed changes until September 21, 2010. The Commission vote authorizing the Federal Register notice was 5-0. (The staff contact is Pavneet Singh, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2252.)

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

8/17/2010 FTC Proposes Changes to Improve Notices: Applicant Release Subject to Change

The FTC has announced that they are proposing revisions to the notices that consumer reporting agencies (such as employment screening firms) provide to consumers, and to users and furnishers of credit report information under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

The proposed changes seek to alter the consent and authorization form needed to conduct an employee check as well as the “Summary of Your Rights” document which must be provided to the job applicants before a background check can be conducted.

See notice from FTC below.

The Federal Trade Commission is proposing revisions to the notices that consumer reporting agencies provide to consumers, and to users and furnishers of credit report information under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA requires the FTC to publish model notices for several forms that must be provided by consumer reporting agencies. The proposed changes are designed to reflect new rules that the FTC and other financial regulators have enacted under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, and to make the notices more useful and easier to understand.

In addition to revising the general Summary of Rights notice, which informs consumers about their FCRA rights, such as how to obtain a free credit report and dispute inaccurate information in credit reports, the FTC also is proposing improvements to the notices that credit reporting agencies provide to users and furnishers of credit report information. The User Notice and Furnisher Notice inform users and furnishers of their obligation to provide certain protections to consumers. The model notices were originally issued in 1997 and revised in 2004. The FTC is accepting public comments on the proposed changes until September 21, 2010. The Commission vote authorizing the Federal Register notice was 5-0. (The staff contact is Pavneet Singh, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2252.)

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

Head of the Class(less). Check Out My New Degree!

Canterbury Degree

Well congratulations to me.  I just completed my Masters of Business Administration (MBA) coursework and earned a graduate degree.  Mom and Dad are as proud as they could be.  And thanks to our tuition reimbursement program at EmployeeScreenIQ, continuing education didn’t cost me a dime.  I’ll admit, it was a lot of hard work, but seeing that degree on the wall is all the validation I need to know that it was worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

Now, let’s evaluate the above when the truth is inserted in place of the lies and deception.

Well congratulations to me.  I just completed paid for my Masters of Business Administration (MBA) coursework and earned they shipped me a graduate degree.  Mom and Dad are as proud as they could be would never approve of this type of academic fraud.  And thanks to our tuition reimbursement program at EmployeeScreenIQ, continuing education didn’t cost me a dime (this part was true. I expensed the cost to my company).  I’ll admit, it was a lot of hard work finding a diploma mill, but seeing that degree on the wall is all the validation I need to know that it was worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

Let me tell you how easy it was for me to “earn” my MBA.  I found an online diploma mill and with a couple keystrokes, input my information, the degree I wanted and my area of focus.  I then paid the $150.00 fee and in just 10 days I had a very authentic-looking diploma with a raised seal and everything.  The package was sent from Portugal and included information for how I could have the degree verified.

Do you have a good practice in place to ensure that your job applicants and employees haven’t committed this same type of fraud?

Proof That Background Checks Actually Work: If You Use Them

If you need a good example of why it is a good idea to conduct employment background checks, look no further.  A former Texas loan officer faces two charges of identity theft because he used clients’ personally identifiable information (social security numbers and dates of birth) to obtain loans.  If the employer would have conducted a criminal background check, they would have realized that this person had been convicted of burglary in 1982.  He also faced multiple charges of for DUI, theft by check and unlawfully carrying a weapon.  A credit check might also have revealed some interesting information worthy of consideration.

This kind of thing happens every day.  What I find interesting is that this didn’t take place at a larger national institution.  It happened at a small community currency exchange near Austin, Texas.  Nobody was assaulted or killed, but they were victims of identity theft, of which the affects can be felt for years.  Criminal activity does not discriminate.  In fact, those who seek to commit such crimes pray on smaller business because they know larger institutions are actually going to conduct background checks.  There is no way this company would have hired this guy if they knew about his past.  Now, they suffered financial loss, loss of reputation and are sure to find themselves involved in litigation from their customers.

It would be nice if the EEOC recognized stories such as these and spent time worrying about the victims of these crimes instead of protecting those who commit them.