Author: Angela Preston

Federal Ban the Box Bill Introduced in Both Houses of Congress


This post is courtesy of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners’ (NAPBS) Government Relations Committee.

“Ban the box” legislation has been introduced for the first time at the federal level, reflecting a broader trend witnessed in dozens of states and municipalities.  On September 10, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers in both houses of Congress introduced the Fair Chance Act (S. 2021  / H.R. 3470), which would prohibit federal agencies or contractors from asking prospective employees about whether they have a criminal record before a formal job offer has been extended.  Once a conditional offer of employment has been made, an employer would be permitted to ask about the applicant’s criminal record and revoke the offer based on the results of a criminal background check.

Read More

New York, New York Part II: The Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act


New York City has two new background screening laws that are about to shake up the status quo for employers. Yesterday we looked at the Fair Chance Act—here’s the link if you missed it. Today we look at the recently enacted restriction on credit reports and some recent guidance that has been published to help employers comply.

By way of background, the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act (SCDEA), which went into effect on September 3, 2015, prohibits employers from using an individual’s consumer credit history when making employment decisions about applicants or current employees.  The law includes a limited set of exemptions for sensitive positions which include the following:

Read More

NY, NY: If You Can Hire There, You Can Hire Anywhere (Part I, The Fair Chance Act)

New York City

I love New York. So do lots of other people who are clamoring to work in the Big Apple, where employment rose by 91,400 in the past year. The city has two brand new background screening laws that are about to shake up the status quo for employers. If you hire, recruit, or screen prospective candidates or employees in New York City, listen up.  Things are about to get complicated.

The two laws are the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act (SCDEA) which went into effect on September 3, 2015 and the Fair Chance Act (FCA), which deals with criminal history and takes effect on October 27, 2015.  Today we’re tackling the FCA—look for Part II on the SCDEA tomorrow. (more…)

Read More

Keeping the People’s Pope Safe: Pope Francis, Volunteers, and Background Checks

Pope Francis

In case you haven’t been tuned in, the country has Pope Francis fever. When Pope Francis arrived in the U.S. this week for a six day visit, he was greeted by a blur of media coverage and was surrounded by an unprecedented army of law enforcement, secret service, and security professionals brought in to manage the crowds and deal with the millions of people who are expected to turn out to see the Pontiff in his Popemobile.

You might be wondering what the Pope’s visit has to do with background checks. Consider this: when the Pope appears at the World Meeting of Families event being held September 26 and 27th in Philadelphia, crowds are expected to close to 2 million people.  And apparently the Papal Father does not like to be confined—he’s known for his propensity to wander with the people. He’s a touchy-feely, hands-on kind of guy. Fun fact: no selfie sticks are allowed near the Pope.

Read More

BMW Settles with the EEOC for a Hefty $1.6M


One of the high profile class action cases we’ve been tracking in the wake of the EEOC enforcement guidance on criminal background records in 2012 has just settled. BMW has agreed to pay out $1,600,000 to claimants and offer to rehire the 56 plaintiffs in the case brought by the EEOC. The claimants sued BMW in June of 2013, alleging race discrimination in its hiring practices—specifically its use of criminal background checks. Those individuals, if rehired, must be reinstated without any loss of seniority, and will be given credit for increases in rank, wages and benefits over the time period of the case.

The consent decree is a 3 year agreement, and it applies to hiring at Defendant’s Facility in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. It includes contractors hired by third parties referred in the decree as “Logistics Labor Providers.” You can read the full text of the decree here.

Read More

Dylann Roof’s Background Check: Quality Takes Time

Criminal Background Check

It’s a heartbreaking story. Every time a shooter like the alleged killer Dylann Roof becomes unhinged and takes innocent lives, we, as a nation, mourn. What makes the story even worse is to think that it all might have been prevented by taking more time with the background check.

Roof is accused of killing nine people at a church in South Carolina three weeks ago. Last Friday, FBI Director James B. Comey said Roof was able to purchase the gun used in the attack only because of lapses in the FBI’s background-check system. In a statement last week, Comey said “This case rips all of our hearts out. But the thought that an error on our part is connected to this guy’s purchase of a gun that he used to slaughter these good people is very painful to us.”

Read More

Oregon Bans the Box

Oregon Ban The Box

Oregon has officially banned the box for all employers, delaying the timing of pre-employment criminal background checks. On June 25, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed HB 3025 into law. Effective January 1, 2016, it will be illegal for an employer in the State of Oregon to require an applicant to disclose a criminal conviction on a job application or to require an applicant to disclose, prior to an initial interview, a criminal conviction.  If no interview is conducted, it will be illegal to require an applicant to disclose, prior to making a conditional offer of employment, a criminal conviction.

The statute specifies that it does not make it illegal to perform a criminal background check or to consider conviction history in the hiring process.  It does, however, defer an inquiry into criminal history until after the applicant has been interviewed or potentially offered the position.

Read More

5 Legal Lessons for Millennial Background Checks


By the end of 2015, Millennials are expected to outnumber Baby Boomers in the workplace for the first time ever. As the largest generational group in the job pool (depending on your source, people born 1982-2004), they’re a hot commodity. Up until now, most of the focus has been on how to woo them, lure them in and make them so happy that they want to work for you forever (or at least for a few years).  But employers are finding that it’s not all smooth sailing.  Hiring this growing generation of workers introduces a whole new set of legal challenges to the HR department, and the background screening process is one of those challenges.

When it comes to screening Millennials, employers need to take into account not only what’s effective, but also what’s legal. Wait a minute. I know what you’re thinking. How is a Millennial’s background check different from any other background check? Read on to learn how to spot the tricky issues and avoid a legal tangle with this new wave of workers.

Read More

Nevada Removes 7 Year Limit on Criminal Records


Conducting employment background checks in the Nevada just got a little easier. The state has expanded the scope for pre-employment criminal background checks, lifting a 7-year reporting limit on criminal convictions. Nevada Senate Bill 409 was signed by Governor Sandoval last week. The law takes effect immediately. Under the new law, background screening companies are now able to report convictions older than 7 years in Nevada.

Additionally, SB 409 specifically allows gaming operators and employers to conduct more thorough background checks on prospective employees, allowing screening companies to prepare a report at the request of the gaming licensee which may include bankruptcy information older than 10 years and other civil judgments older than 7 years.

Read More

Counting to Five in the Adverse Action Process


The adverse action process for background checks has been in the spotlight lately, thanks to a growing list of class action lawsuits against employers. In some recent cases, those lawsuits have resulted in multi-million dollar verdicts. Others are still winding their way through the court system, with employers defending their practices and filing motions in an attempt to dismiss some of the more far-reaching claims.

Read More