8/29/2011 Update on Court Closures Due to Hurricane Irene

Today’s update looks much better than yesterday’s.  The following New York courts remain closed due to damages or flooding caused by Hurricane Irene: Schenectady, Greene, Orange and Essex counties.  We are still unsure as to when these courts will reopen, but will continue to update you as we learn more.

All courts in both New Hampshire and Vermont appear to be back online.

Stay tuned!

End of Summer Stinks, But Not as Bad as School Background Checks

I think we can all agree that going back to school sucks.  As a little kid I remember the dread I felt waking up for the first day of school and knowing that my summer was officially over.  Even as an adult, I get that same feeling for my kids.  So, it was with great anxiety that I put my fourth and first graders on the bus last week. (If you are a regular on this blog, you know what comes next).

Enter, my annual rant on school background checks.

You know, it’s a blessing and a curse to be in this business.  You can help a lot of great organization minimize the risk of hiring the wrong person.  You can also help these organizations validate that their candidate is the right choice.  Over the years, I have been exposed to some of the worst things people in this world can do.  And just when I see what I think is the most disgusting and heinous behavior, something else comes along that sets a new low.

To me, the worst offenses are those that deal with the abuse of children; whether physical, mental or sexual.  So you can imagine my feeling of helplessness when I know that I am powerless to help the schools (whether my own kids’ schools or any other) to perform comprehensive criminal background checks.  The states have created a false sense of security by mandating statewide criminal background checks for school employees.  Most states can’t even mandate that all their counties report information in to them.  And even so, the information passed on might not be up to date, accurate or comprehensive.  Further, what happens if a school employee committed a crime outside of the state for which they seek employment?

One need not look very far to find an incidents of abuse in schools where the district swore they ran background checks.  It happens all the time.  And when it does, the school either is, or acts surprised that the state check didn’t reveal past convictions.  Then, they inevitably blame the lack of proper funding to remedy the situation. What could be more important than protecting our children?

So, even though I know that it will fall of deaf ears, here is my advice for conducting the type of background check that should be used in schools.  First, all school employees from the Superintendent, to the teachers, to the janitors, to the bus drivers should be checked.  The background check should consist of a county criminal background check in each county that the candidate has resided and under each name they have used.  Next, the school should perform a National Sex Offender Registry check (for obvious reasons) and a National Criminal Records Search which can identify criminal activity committed outside the counties where someone has lived.  And then if they still want to conduct a statewide search, they can feel free to do so.

I know that as a parent, I would feel much more comfortable that our schools have done everything they can reasonably can do to protect our children and provide them with a safe learning environment.  We live in a crazy world and overwhelming majority of our school employee are there for the right reasons.  But unfortunately, there are always those that have other intentions and until they cease to exist, we need to take steps to ensure that they never step foot in a school.  Taking the steps I listed above would significantly mitigate the possibility of it happening and the schools should do everything in their power to take advantage of the tools corporations have been using for years.

Until then, I’ll keep holding my breath.

8/30/2011 Damages from Earthquake Closes DC Area Archives

We’ve just been advised that the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, MD will be closed on August 30 and 31, 2011 due to damages suffered from last week’s earthquake. Court clerks are accepting archive requests but they are not providing estimates of when the records will be returned.

According to the Washington Post, “The earthquake and its aftershocks cracked and spilled masonry in the internal walls and stairwells, left a small water leak in a stack area and destabilized some shelving in a vault, Archives officials said Friday.

Masonry debris fell in internal stairways and some stack aisles. Several rows of shelving holding records shifted during the quake, crushing some boxes of records.

The good news: The Archives has determined that there is no known permanent damage to any records.

The Washington National Records Center in Suitland, is one of the largest records centers in the huge Archives system. It stores about 4 million cubic feet of records in 20 stack areas.

The records center guards the most diverse collection of records in the federal program, according to Archives officials.”

The archives should open again on September 1st, but we will keep you advised if further delays are announced.

Speaking at PIHRA

Background Screening Expert Jason B. Morris Presents at 2011 PIHRA Conference & Exposition in Anaheim, CA on August 31

EmployeeScreenIQ president will review how HR professionals can successfully manage Web 2.0 technologies and highlight their impact on employment screening and the hiring process.

EmployeeScreenIQ founder Jason B. Morris will speak at the 2011 PIHRA Conference & Exposition in Anaheim, CA at the Anaheim Convention Center on August 31, 2011 11:15 am pst.

Technology has dramatically changed the way companies 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 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.

The presentation, entitled “Recruiting and Hiring Liabilities: Protecting Your Organization from the Harmful Effects of Web 2.0,” will educate the HR community about the legal pitfalls of social networking and the related threats of online diploma fraud, employment mills, screen scraping and more. Attendees will learn which social networking sites are most popular with recruiters and applicants, and their impact on employment screening and the hiring process. Morris will also offer advice on how to develop a social media policy and spot the warning signs of diploma and employment mills.

For more information, please visit http://www.pihraconference.org/

About EmployeeScreenIQ:
Founded in 1999, EmployeeScreenIQ is a Cleveland, Ohio-based employment screening company offering a variety of employment screening services to mid- and large-cap organizations throughout the world, including those in North and South America, Europe and East Asia. EmployeeScreenIQ is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction earned by only one percent of all employment screening companies. For more information, visit http://www.EmployeeScreen.com.

Media Contact:
Nick Fishman, EmployeeScreenIQ
(847) 564-5410
nfishman(at)employeescreen(dot)com

Criminal Background Checks Delayed Due to Hurricane Irene

As you might expect, we are receiving numerous notifications of court closures throughout the Eastern seaboard due to the damages and flooding caused by Hurricane Irene.  Any one conducting criminal background checks in the following states can expect to run into delays.  Here’s what we have so far for closures on Monday, August 29, 2011.

Vermont – All courts closed.   Montpelier is flooded so there may a lengthy delay throughout the state.

New Hampshire – So far, we are only aware of closures in Cheshire, Grafton, Rockingham, Sullivan and Coosand counties and the Keene District Court.

New York – The following courts are closed until further notice: Schenectady, Greene, Ulster, Orange, Essex, Clinton, Delaware.

Connecticut – So far, we haven’t been able to reach the courts.  Stay tuned.

New Jersey – All courts closed.

Maine – Late openings due to Administrative week.  No storm related delays.

This is a fluid situation, so please stay tuned for further updates as events unfold.

8/29/2011 Criminal Background Checks Delayed Due to Hurricane Irene

As you might expect, we are receiving numerous notifications of court closures due to the damages and flooding caused by Hurricane Irene.  Here’s what we have so far for closures on Monday, August 29, 2011.

Vermont – All courts closed.   Montpelier is flooded so there may a lengthy delay throughout the state.

New Hampshire – So far, we are only aware of closures in Cheshire, Grafton, Rockingham, Sullivan and Coosand counties and the Keene District Court.

New York – The following courts are closed until further notice: Schenectady, Greene, Ulster, Orange, Essex, Clinton, Delaware.

Connecticut – So far, we haven’t been able to reach the courts.  Stay tuned.

New Jersey – All courts closed.

Maine – Late openings due to Administrative week.  No storm related delays.

This is a fluid situation, so please stay tuned for further updates as events unfold.

Speaking at AZ SHRM

EmployeeScreenIQ founder Jason B. Morris will speak at the 2011 Arizona State SHRM Conference in Phoenix, AZ at the Phoenix Convention Center on Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 7:00 am and 5 pm PST.

Technology has dramatically changed the way companies 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 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.

The presentation, entitled “Recruiting and Hiring Liabilities: Protecting Your Organization from the Harmful Effects of Web 2.0,” will educate the HR community about the legal pitfalls of social networking and the related threats of online diploma fraud, employment mills, screen scraping and more. Attendees will learn which social networking sites are most popular with recruiters and applicants, and their impact on employment screening and the hiring process. Morris will also offer advice on how to develop a social media policy and spot the warning signs of diploma and employment mills.

For more information, please visit Arizona State SHRM website

About EmployeeScreenIQ:
Founded in 1999, EmployeeScreenIQ is a Cleveland, Ohio-based employment screening company offering a variety of employment screening services to mid- and large-cap organizations throughout the world, including those in North and South America, Europe and East Asia. EmployeeScreenIQ is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction earned by only one percent of all employment screening companies. For more information, visit http://www.EmployeeScreen.com.

Latest Ruling Again EEOC: A Series of Costly Mistakes Leads to Tax Payer Waste

Jon Hyman of Ohio Employer’s Law Blog fame just posted about yet another embarrassing episode for the EEOC.  This time they were ordered to pay Cintas Corporation nearly $3 million dollars for overzealous legal tactics.  This on the heels of the PeopleMark ruling earlier this year which resulted in a $750,000 judgment against the agency.  Jon also recently wrote about another ruling that went against the EEOC in the Kaplan Higher Education case which deals with the use of an employer’s use credit reports as part of the background screening process.  And at the same time they are unfairly saddling these corporations with unfounded lawsuits, they are wasting time and tax payer money which affects us all.  See Jon’s complete post below.

A Michigan federal judge has slammed the EEOC for its “reckless sue first, ask questions later strategy.” After 11 years of litigation, the court awarded the EEOC’s target, Cintas Corporation, $2,638,443.93 in attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses from the agency.

The court justified its astronomical award based on the EEOC’s failure to investigate before filing suit, and dilatory tactics before and after filing suit:

  • The EEOC did not investigate the specific allegations of any of the thirteen allegedly aggrieved persons until after the Serrano plaintiffs filed their initial complaint, and after it filed its own complaint years later.
  • The EEOC did not engage in any conciliation measures as required by § 706 prior to filing suit on behalf of the named Plaintiffs.
  • The EEOC did not identify any of the thirteen allegedly aggrieved persons as members of the “class” until after the EEOC filed its initial complaint.
  • The EEOC failed to make an individualized reasonable cause determination as to the specific allegations of any of the thirteen named plaintiffs in this action….

During the course of its involvement in this case, the EEOC filed, and lost, over a dozen motions. Furthermore, Cintas was forced to file a number of motions because of the EEOC’s failure to properly respond to Cintas’ discovery requests. Cintas succeeded on all of these motions, and the EEOC’s conduct served only to prolong this decade-long litigation…. In his March 2, 2010 Order Granting Motion to Compel, Magistrate Judge Scheer stated, “There appears to be no purpose for [the EEOC’s] position [to withhold the questionnaires] other than to increase the difficulty and expense of the defense of this action by Cintas.”

Employers, if you’ve ever been sued by the EEOC, you know it is never fun to be in its crosshairs. Unlike you, the agency does not pay lawyers to litigate for it, and has seemingly unlimited resources to make your lives a living hell. Take heart, though, that there are judges who will hold the EEOC’s feet to the litigation fire. As this case illustrates, it is possible to beat the EEOC at its own game. But, it’s going to take perseverance.