A Resume Lie Will Come Back to Haunt You—Just Ask NCAA Basketball Coach Steve Masiello

Resume Lies

A little resume lie never hurt anyone…right? Tell that to Steve Masiello, most recently a coach at Manhattan College, now on leave due to a potential discrepancy on his resume. It’s been 14 years since he supposedly graduated with a degree in Communications from the University of Kentucky, where he played for the Wildcats from 1996-2000.

While being screened for a coaching position at the University of South Florida, they conducted a resume verification on Masiello and inevitably discovered that he did not earn the degree listed on his resume. This discrepancy could be a blatant lie or perhaps a misunderstanding, but either way keep reading to find out how this discrepancy remained hidden for so long.

Continue reading A Resume Lie Will Come Back to Haunt You—Just Ask NCAA Basketball Coach Steve Masiello

March BTW: Spokeo Loses Appeal, NY Attorney General Blasts Screening Process, and San Francisco Bans the Box

Compliance Pre-employment screening

For those interested in staying up-to-date with the latest in compliance for pre-employment background screening and the laws that affect your use of employment background checks, follow our publication, BTW: Your Guide to Staying Out of Hot Water. This compliance resource has been created by our VP of Compliance and General Counsel, Angela Preston, and is a must-read for human resources and security professionals.

The March issue of BTW features our article, No Evidence of Injury Required: Spokeo Loses Appeal in FCRA Claim. Angela shares the details of a four-year-old case against Spokeo, charged with providing inaccurate information to employers and recruiters. Read More

Our second story brings you information on the recent agreement established between the New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and four of the largest background screening companies in the country. Beginning with the accusation that these companies were sending automatic rejection letters to candidates with criminal records, this agreement was created to end this practice. Read More

Our third story shares the news that yet another city has “banned the box.” The city of San Francisco will soon limit employers from asking candidates about criminal history until after the first in-person interview. Read More   

 

March BTW

No Evidence of Injury Required: Spokeo Loses Appeal in FCRA Claim

Compliance Employment Background Checks

You may already know that Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) litigation has picked up some steam over the past year. While recent class actions continue to grab the headlines, an appellate ruling in a four-year-old case is causing a buzz.

Injury In Fact?

Spokeo makes an encore appearance here in BTW as the defendant in a case that has been festering in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s an FCRA case, and the issue is damages.

The last time we checked in with Spokeo, the company was losing the battle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over whether or not it was a consumer reporting agency that could be held accountable for providing employment reports under the FCRA. The company paid a substantial fine ($800K) for its trouble, and was sued for allegedly reporting misinformation to employers and recruiters on its website.

A complaint, originally brought by Thomas Robins on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals, alleged that inaccurate information on Spokeo’s website was a “willful” violation of the FCRA. Spokeo was initially successful in arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were without merit since Robins, while admittedly unemployed, had not suffered any “actual or imminent harm”—a required element of a cause of action under the statute. Read more about that decision almost two years ago here.

At long last we have a decision on the appeal. In a surprising decision, the appellate court overturned the decision, lowering the threshold of actual damages for future FCRA claims.

How low, you ask?

How about NO damages? Zero. Zip. It doesn’t get much lower than that.

The Facts About Mr. Robins

Robins alleged that his Spokeo profile included a laundry list of inaccuracies: wrong age, wrong marital status, and wrong photo. Not all of the information was negative or even unflattering. Interestingly, the website reported that he had a graduate degree (he did not), that his economic health was “very strong” and that his “wealth level” was in the “top 10%”—all false, according to the plaintiff.

Call me crazy, but if I found out that a website was misleading the world into thinking I was a member of the highly paid, elite, upper echelon of society, I might not complain. But Robins made a good point—while being financially stable is not considered a negative (at least by most people), it doesn’t exactly help your job prospects to have a web site touting your great wealth.  The unemployed Robins claimed that the inaccurate information was costing him jobs, “causing actual harm to Plaintiff’s employment prospects” as well as “anxiety, stress, concern and/or worry about his diminished employment prospects.”

The Appellate Decision

Spokeo argued throughout the litigation that Robins had no claim under the FCRA because he made no showing of actual harm. But the Appellate court found otherwise. It held that because the allegations were for willful violations and statutory damages, and statutory causes of action do not require a showing of actual harm when a plaintiff sues for willful violations, no actual harm was needed.

The court cited the statute’s language at 15 U.S.C. § 1681n(a):

Any person who willfully fails to comply with any requirement imposed under this subchapter with respect to any consumer is liable to that consumer in an amount equal to . . . damages of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000 . . . .”).[i]

The court’s decision hinged on the claim of willful violations and a claim for statutory damages only. It completely sidestepped the issue of whether Robin’s alleged harm to his employment prospects or related anxiety could be sufficient injuries in fact. Robins and Spokeo now go back to the drawing board—in district court.

Word to the wise: This case is sure to add fuel to the fire for FCRA claims, opening the door for additional plaintiffs making claims for willful violations without having suffered any actual harm or injury in fact.

EmployeeScreenIQ Weekly Wrap Up: March 21, 2014

Employment background checks

This week’s wrap up has it all—from background checks in the state of Illinois, to a recent agreement between four background screening companies and the New York Attorney General, to our new article with 5 steps to compliance when your candidate has a criminal record. As always, subscribe to our blog to receive immediate updates on the latest news and trends in the background screening industry.

Cold Weather Be Darned: Illinois is Great for Employment Background Checks

The state of Illinois has it going on when it comes to employment background checks. Unlike its border state Michigan, there are very few obstacles to conducting criminal background checks. There are no counties that mandate clerk research, and court access fees are few, inexpensive, and far between. Read More

New York Attorney General Blasts Background Screening Process

Last week a press release from the New York Attorney General’s office raised some eyebrows about background screening practices—not an uncommon headline these days. According to the release “Four of the nation’s largest background check agencies” entered into an agreement with New York A.G. Eric T. Schneiderman concerning compliance with New York laws designed to protect job applicants from discrimination. Read More

To Hire or Not to Hire: 5 Steps to Compliance When Your Candidate Has a Criminal Record

For most companies, it goes without saying that you should conduct employment background checks to verify education and employment, confirm credentials, and search criminal history. However, when the background check results come in and a criminal record is found on your candidate’s background check—what steps should you take? Read More









To Hire Or Not to Hire: 5 Steps to Compliance When Your Candidate Has a Criminal Record

Compliance Criminal Background Check

To hire, or not to hire…that is indeed the question. Employers review qualifications, skills, and typically, the results of an employment background check to determine if a candidate is not only eligible for a position, but if they would be a good fit for the company.

For most companies, it goes without saying that you should conduct employment background checks to verify education and employment, confirm credentials, and search criminal history. However, when the background check results come in and a criminal record is found on your candidate’s background check—what steps should you take?

Our new guide, Keep It Legal: 5 Steps to Compliance When Your Candidate Has a Criminal Record, will help you to develop a policy designed to improve your hiring practices and keep legal peril at bay.

Download the article to learn more about:

  • EEOC and FCRA regulations and other legal considerations
  • Developing a hiring matrix with consistent guidelines
  • Navigating the ins and outs of individualized assessments
  • The two-step adverse action process
  • Handling candidates who dispute background check results





New York Attorney General Blasts Background Screening Process

Schneiderman_Eric-NY-AG-AP-photo-580x455

Last week a press release from the New York Attorney General’s office raised some eyebrows about background screening practices—not an uncommon headline these days. The release announced that “four of the nation’s largest background check agencies” entered into an agreement with New York A.G. Eric T. Schneiderman concerning compliance with New York laws designed to protect job applicants from discrimination.

The agreement prohibits the firms from engaging in the automatic disqualification of applicants who have criminal backgrounds—something that we can all agree is a bad practice. Based on the information contained in the press release, the named companies were called out for sending automatic rejection letters to candidates with criminal records.

Continue reading New York Attorney General Blasts Background Screening Process

US Chamber Hosts Forum on Criminal Background Checks

chamber

An event held on March 6th at the US Chamber of Commerce took a closer look at employment background checks and why they matter to employers and the public. The event, titled “Background Checks and Employment: Why Background Checks Matter and the EEOC’s Current Enforcement Practices” brought together private business leaders, legal practitioners, health care providers, non-profits, and the media to discuss the current legal and regulatory climate for background screening.

Employers participating in the discussion cited public safety as the overriding and number one reason for conducting criminal background checks. Other reasons included mitigating the risk for civil liability for negligent hiring, decreasing the risk of fraud or theft in the workplace, and overall workplace safety and security. Statistics shared by the Consumer Data Industry Association showed that public opinion widely supports the use of criminal conviction information, with 90.7 percent of people surveyed supporting some use of conviction information in hiring. Continue reading US Chamber Hosts Forum on Criminal Background Checks