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Personal Background Checks

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AutoZone

Memphis-based AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) is the latest company to be reluctantly inducted into the FCRA class action club. The company was hit with a suit for alleged violations of state and federal law in its background screening process. The case, Aceves et al. v. AutoZone Inc, filed on September 30, 2014 in the Central District of California, claims that the retailer violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), California’s Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (CCRAA) and the Investigative Consumer Reporting Agency Act (ICRAA). [...]

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EEOC

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release this week announcing it reached a settlement with a background screening company over the company’s pre-employment screening services. According to the press release, the company is a consumer reporting agency (CRA), that “screens applicants for hundreds of companies nationwide.”

The agreement requires the company to change its website, screening policies, and training procedures to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), and anti-retaliation laws. The underlying concern was that an investigation into an applicant’s medical history, history of personal injury, or workers compensation claims would be used by prospective employers to discriminate against the applicant.

If anyone wondered whether the EEOC would eventually extend its reach to CRAs, that question has been answered. The press release quotes Janet Elizondo, director of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office:

“It is important for the EEOC to engage, not only with employers directly, but also with their business partners who play an important role in facilitating connections between jobs and job seekers.”

Background screening companies take note, the EEOC is watching.




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Employment Background checks

It’s nice to share. At least that’s what we learned as kids. But for some people, sharing is more than just nice—it’s a way to make a buck. I’m talking about the sharing economy, which Forbes estimates at $3.5 billion this year, with growth exceeding 25%.  

For the uninitiated, in very simple terms, the sharing economy is a model where you loan out your stuff for a fee. It’s access over ownership. And the more we experiment with sharing as a business, the more participants are challenged by legal concerns, regulation, and operational details. Since one of the basic tenants of sharing is trust in the person and the product being shared, it’s time for some segments of the sharing economy to adopt a process that other business models have already embraced and acknowledged as a necessity—I’m talking about background checks. [...]

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Ban the box

With over a year of debate and some last minute amendments, the District of Columbia’s Council passed a ban-the-box law that includes its own unique list of considerations before an employer can withdraw an offer of employment based on criminal history.

Council vote was 12-1; only Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) voted against the bill. In an interview, Mendelson said that he supports the “basic thrust” of the legislation but that late amendments were “troublesome,” giving ex-offenders greater rights in the hiring process than other citizens. “This goes way beyond ‘ban the box’ and into telling businesses how to hire,” he said. “How much do we want to regulate how a business wants to hire somebody?” Exactly. [...]

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background checks ride-sharing

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the three big ride-sharing services, Sidecar, Uber and Lyft, have received warning letters from the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles. The letters focus on two components of the ride-sharing business: background checks and car-pooling features. The D.A.s claim that the companies’ practices violate California law, and they’re threatening them with civil penalties and injunctions. Ironically, California is the home state for all three companies, and the place where ride sharing first became popular. [...]

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EEOC Policy on Background Checks

Congress is showing signs of life in the constant fight for employers to conduct reasonable background checks. Representative Tim Walberg, R, Mich., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, held the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s feet to the fire in a hearing on September 17, 2014. The hearing focused on three recently introduced bills aimed to increase the accountability and transparency of the EEOC and to offer employers limited protections in the use of criminal history. [...]

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Jenny-Yang-EEOC

Jaqueline Berrien is leaving Washington and her post as the Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Insert your own emoticon here. President Obama announced today that she’ll be replaced by Vice Chair, Jenny Yang. Congratulations are in order for Yang, who is the first Asian-American to chair the agency.

Yang was the favorite to replace Berrien when she was appointed Vice Chair in 2014—just one year after her appointment to the Commission. Yang’s term expires July 1, 2017. Yang is known for her work in the non-profit sector as well as her work as a litigator and partner with Washington-based plaintiff law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll P.L.L.C where she represented employees. Her firm Cohen Milstein represented workers in the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. gender discrimination litigation. [...]

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San fran skyline

Things aren’t getting any easier for employers in California. As I posted way back in February, San Francisco has banned the box. Effective August 13, 2014, employers in the city or county of San Francisco may no longer inquire about criminal history on employment applications or during interviews. It’s Ban the Box on steroids, and it may be coming to a city near you.

Titled The San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, No. 17-14, the new law prohibits both private and public employers with at least 20 employees from asking about a criminal past on the job application or in an initial interview. The law also restricts asking about criminal history on applications for affordable housing within the city. With respect to employment, the law applies to temporary workers, contract workers, and city contractors and subcontractors. The proponents of this and similar laws are trying to give ex-offenders a second chance by deferring questions about criminal history until after the application stage of hiring.

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Compliance Employment Background Checks

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water, the sharks are circling with more FCRA-related class action claims. This time Home Depot and Aaron’s furniture stores are the companies under attack. Just a couple weeks ago, when most Americans were cutting out of work early to get to their July 4th parties, these two retailers were hit with class action lawsuits alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in their background screening process.

This is a continuation of the wave of FCRA class action lawsuits that I have written about all too often in the past year. Investing in some preventive FCRA compliance measures this summer can really pay off, especially since the litigation continues—and recent settlements are costing employers millions of dollars.

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Ban the Box Employment Background Checks

Ban the box has gone viral. And while the removal of this little check box has potentially made life easier for job seekers with a criminal past, it has created much confusion and frustration for employers. If you haven’t been in the loop, “ban the box” is the catchy phrase that refers to removal of the check box on a job application asking whether a candidate has been convicted of a crime. Ban the box shows no signs of slowing down, and it’s creating new headaches, not to mention real risks, for employers across the country.

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