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Federal Criminal Background Checks for Employers

If you’re running a criminal background check by adhering to best practices, including a search in each county to determine if your candidate has any convictions on his/her record, then you might consider your employment background screening program both thorough and accurate. On the other hand, if this does not describe your current program, you should consider submitting a request to find out how EmployeeScreenIQ helps clients create a comprehensive screening program tailored to their needs.

But even if your background check company conducts a thorough search, there could be another piece of the puzzle missing: what if your candidate was convicted of a federal crime?

Well-known federal convicts include Bernie Madoff, former Illinois Governor’s Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan, John Dillinger, Al Capone, The Unabomber, John Gotti and Aldrich Ames.

Unfortunately, a county criminal background check would not include these federal convictions or any others.  However, there is a good way for you to search for federal convictions without breaking the bank: a Federal District Criminal Records Search.

Basics of a Federal Record Search

Federal District Criminal Record Searches identify criminal activity prosecuted through the federal court system. Criminal activity prosecuted in Federal District Courts typically involves violations of the Constitution or other federal law. These crimes include tax evasion, embezzlement, bank robbery, kidnapping, mail fraud and other federal statute violations.

There are 94 federal judicial districts throughout the country, including at least one district in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Three territories of the United States – the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands – have district courts that hear federal cases.

And as mentioned previously, federal criminal convictions do not appear in state or county felony and misdemeanor court record searches. Therefore a federal district search is imperative if such records are needed. Each state is comprised of several federal districts.


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Background Screening for In-Home Workers

The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) issued a press release on Tuesday, supporting the Today Show’s recent report that emphasized the critically important role background screening plays in today’s environment.

If you missed the piece, you can read more about the Today Show story here, as well as Nick’s take on why background checks for in-home workers are critical. NAPBS voiced its support of the Today Show story, and shared this message:


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Criminal Background Check Record Suspension

We often discuss the challenges of ex-felons going back to work and the problems they face when making this transition. From issues like ban the box to a company’s compliance in their use of criminal records in hiring decisions, there’s a never ending list of challenges that arise. One of these topics includes expunging criminal records, so that even if an employer conducts a background check, an applicant’s criminal record will not be found.

In Canada, a job candidate could simply submit an application and if accepted, their criminal record will be suspended. This action may allow those with a criminal history to find a job more quickly and will assist in making the hiring process much smoother. In Canada, they recently implemented legislation (in March of 2012) for this practice of record suspension, allowing ex-offenders a pardon for past crimes. According to Chris Heringer, a senior executive with Pardon Applications of Canada, a nationwide application firm, this is a great opportunity, particularly for those seeking employment:

“Employment seems to be one of the foremost reasons individuals decide to take this step…and it’s not just concern over finding a new job. Even those who are currently employed want to make sure their record does not come to light when opportunities for advancement are presented.”

For job candidates that made mistakes in the past and are ready to live a better lifestyle, this is a second chance. Without having to explain their past, the job search becomes hopeful as any previous record will no longer be available, even if a background check is done. According to the article, this pardon can also help “an individual’s ability to volunteer, further education, adopt a child, or even rent an apartment.”


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Criminal Record Database








Shrinkage is a funny word. In the retail world, it has nothing to do with laundry. Rather, it’s another way of referring to internal employee theft, a huge concern for any retailer — and with good reason.  Workplace theft costs retailers about $15 billion per year according to the  National Retail Federation. They estimate that 44 percent of missing merchandise is due to employee theft. It’s not surprising that employers are taking the lead to protect themselves at a time when margins are thin and the economic recovery is still sluggish.

The New York Times recently reportedon a little known source used by some retailers—an extensive database that keeps track of employees who have confessed to or have been accused of stealing from their employers. The database called out by the New York Times is unique. It is not used in a traditional background check. It is a proprietary tool called Esteem that is owned by a private company and was built by contributions from the retailers themselves. It does not contain information from the public record; it is made up of self-reported incidents that are usually collected by a store’s loss prevention team. It does not replace a traditional employee background check, and most background screening companies do not have access to the database. Even if they could access it, I would guess that many companies would be reluctant to use it.

While I have not viewed an Esteem report, to the casual observer it sounds like something hatched from a Hollywood crime drama, where investigators type in a name, and up pops a photo with pages of information. While that image is not realistic, it has more than a few consumers, attorneys, and advocacy groups concerned. [...]

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City to require background checks to rent buildings

Thursday, February 26, 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Background checks now will be required of anyone wanting to rent a city school building for a private or group event.

The school board Tuesday voted to require building use appplicants to provide state police, FBI and child abuse clearances — the same clearances required for prospective employees.

The district will deny the use of buildings to anyone whose criminal record would prohibit employment with the district. That list of offenses includes most major crimes and sex offenses.

For now, only the person applying to use the building must submit the clearances. In the future, the district may request the clearances for other adults participating in an after-hours activity at a school building.


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HRRecruitingAlert’s Sam Narisi just posted a great story about a case where Microsoft was sued and found liable for rescinding a job offer after it found adverse information on the candidate’s background check.  I had always been under the impression that a conditional offer could be made pending the successful completion of the check.  It turns out that this is correct, however there’s a little wrinkle everyone should pay attention to in Schley v. Microsoft Corp. See post below.

Offer Rescinded After Background Check: Can Candidate Sue?- By Sam Narisi

Your company offers a candidate the job — then rescinds after his background check uncovered a felony conviction. He sues, claiming he was promised a job, quit his old position and bought a house in preparation to relocate. Who wins?

That’s what happened in one recent case:

A candidate, living in New Jersey at the time, was offered a job at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington. He received a written offer letter, which stated his employment was at-will and the offer was conditional on a successful background check.

He also spoke with the hiring manager, who encouraged him to quit his current job and begin looking at houses in Washington. He recommended specific neighborhoods and gave him the name of a real estate agent to contact.

The candidate quit his job and purchased a house. However, his criminal background check uncovered a felony conviction, and he didn’t get the job after all.

He sued Microsoft, claiming the company asked him to leave his employer and move across the country under the promise of a new job.

Did manager promise a job?

Microsoft tried to have the case thrown out. It pointed to the letter, which told the candidate he would be an at-will employee and that the offer would be canceled if his background check didn’t come back clean.

But the judge didn’t buy it. The offer letter may have stated that the offer was conditional, but the hiring manager went too far in encouraging the candidate to relocate and helping him buy a house.

The company now faces an expensive trial or a hefty settlement.

The bottom line: Microsoft took the right steps in the wording of its offer letter. And the manager may have just been trying to help, but it’s best not to get involved in a potential employee’s personal affairs before the job offer is finalized.

In this case, it didn’t pay to be helpful.  Employers take note.

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Worlds best job

Worlds best job

In the past 48 hours I have witnessed the best Public Relations campaign I have ever seen.  I guess I will further enhance their ‘publicity stunt’ by writing about it myself!  I have not only seen this as a top story on local and national news but also sites such as Digg, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and many others.  The campaign is doing so well that it actually crashed their website. Does this job application mention a background check? I don’t know, I can’t even get into the site because too many people are hitting it at once. Does it even matter if someone has a criminal record if they are on a deserted island? I’ll let our readers decide!

Demand for “best job in the world” crashes websiteSYDNEY (Reuters Life!) – The chance to be the caretaker of a tiny tropical island in Australia has sparked so much interest around the world that a rush of applications crashed the website advertising the post.The job, which offers a salary of $105,000 to spend six months on the Great Barrier Reef island of Hamilton, has been inundated with hundreds of thousands of prospective candidates.An official from the state of Queensland, which is offering the position, said the job was created as an antidote to the global economic slump and was being advertised in 18 countries including the United States and China.Local media said technicians had to restore the website ( after it could not cope with the volume of interest and crashed for several hours. Some sections are still not up and running.More

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What do a couple billionaires, a former President Clinton confidant, a retired appeals court justice, Las Vegas casinos and five NFL quarterbacks have in common?  They all invested in a company called “Pay By Touch” led by a man named John P. Rogers.  The company was supposedly developing biometric authentication technology that could be used to generate financial transactions through thumb print identification.

Now, all of these people have another thing in common: their millions of investment dollars have been squandered away by the company and its top executive.  What’s worse, it’s not the first time John Rogers has done this.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports that he did the same thing with a company in Minneapolis several years earlier.  They also documented a laundry list of illegal, unethical and irresponsible behavior perpetrated by Rogers since 1999.

According to the report, “Rogers ‘had a common name, and he never claimed to have done anything special before,’ the former insider said. Only ‘minimal’ background checks were performed, he said.”

Read the Full Story

Sounds like quite a few people need a refresher course on how to conduct a proper employment background check.

So exactly what could the company and its investor found out about Rogers from a simple background check?

  • A Criminal Record Search would have revealed convictions for disorderly conduct, physically abusing his girlfriend, trashing another girlfriend’s house
  • A Civil Record Search would have at least revealed a $35,000 civil judgment against him for failing to repay a loan
  • A Credit Report would have at least revealed $30,000 in liens for failure to by state income taxes in 1996.
  • A Substance Abuse Test might have revealed a dependence on alcohol and drugs

If I were an employer or investor of this companys’, each of these items might have given me pause for concern.  When grouped together, there is no way I would have gotten involved.  And if someone would have been willing to spring for the $100 background check, perhaps that company wouldn’t have lost more than $340 million in venture capital.

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So you want to work for Barack Obama?  Be prepared for a thorough exam.  Some might compare it to a colonoscopy.  Check out the initial application questions just to get your foot in the door.  Ouch!  What do you think the background check would entail?

Information requested includes:

  • Complete Tax Return Info
  • Full Financial Disclosure
  • Health Records
  • Access to personal social networking pages
  • And much, much, much more

Check it out here.

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We have not written in a few weeks about teacher background checks.  I came across this story about an initiative in Kansas to expand the program to student teachers.  Quite frankly one should expect everyone in the schools to be held to the same standards.

Education — Checks necessary

Universities and school districts must ensure student teachers are properly vetted

The Capital-Journal Editorial Board
Published Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Other than their parents, we can’t think of anyone who spends more time interacting with school-age children than their teachers.

And, unfortunately, children in some households probably spend more time with teachers than with their parents.

That’s reason enough to suggest that the background checks required of teachers seeking licenses to work in Kansas be extended to the student teachers working in schools across the state.

Students planning careers in education today spend a lot of hours in the classroom before graduating from a university and receiving a teaching license. Their opportunity to do harm is just as real as that of a full-time teacher or other school employee, and their fitness for the job should be scrutinized just as closely before access to students is granted.


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