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Compliance Employment Background Checks

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 Sharks are Circling: Two New FCRA Class Actions

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. Read More

The Problem(s) with Ban the Box

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. Read More

Ban the Box Update: Rochester, DC, New Jersey, and Illinois

You might be tired of hearing about “ban the box” by now, but as the list continues to grow, so does the importance of employment background checks. Read More

Have a question for our next issue? Send an email to askangela@employeescreen.com and you may see an answer next month!



 






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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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Ban the box

Another day, another dollar. And another ban the box bill.

The city of Rochester has banned the box, joining other US cities like Buffalo, Baltimore, Newark, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. You can read about the specifics here.

The Washington D.C. Council is currently reviewing the “Fair Criminal Record Screening Act of 2014″ which has sparked plenty of debate and controversy. Like the Rochester ordinance, it would prohibit both public and private employers with more than four employees from asking about criminal history until after an initial job interview or after a conditional offer of employment.

New York City is considering its own version of ban the box, called the NYC Fair Chance Act.

At the state level, a few weeks ago the New Jersey legislature passed a bill that now sits on Governor Christie’s desk. If signed, the Garden State will join Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island in banning the box. You can read more about the details of the New Jersey bill here.

Illinois is expected to soon follow; a similar law sits on the governor’s desk. For those of you keeping track, eight additional states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico) have removed that question from applications for public or state jobs. In Georgia, an executive order will soon ban the box on state employment applications.

If you haven’t already, read my latest analysis: The Problem(s) with Ban the Box and let me know what you think!




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Indiana

Effective July 1, 2014, Indiana has a new rule on what information “criminal history providers” can report in employment background checks. This latest version of Ind. Code § 24-4-18-6 makes a technical correction to the law and clears up a few things.  Unlike previous versions of the statute, the new law allows reporting of non-conviction and pending records as long as the information is within the 7 year window required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

As it now reads, the law limits reporting of expunged records and sealed records—records that any compliant screening company wouldn’t give you anyway. It also prohibits reporting certain classes of felonies that have been reduced or converted to a misdemeanor, and creates a statutory cause of action for the intentional or “knowing” act of reporting an inaccurate record. [...]

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Compliant Background Checks

How many blog posts have we spent reviewing regulatory legal actions, class action litigation, and general bad publicity caused by employers or their background screening companies for their less than compliant background check practices? In our opinion, way too many.

In addition, lost in much of the negative publicity is the fact that an overwhelming majority of employers like you (and accredited background screening companies like us) are doing things right when it comes to employee background checks.

You want to make sure that you operate compliant background screening programs and that your candidates’ rights are kept at the forefront to maintain the best possible candidate experience. After all, these are people that you want to hire. You’ve already invested a significant amount of time and money finding and recruiting top talent, interviewing them, and selling them to your organization—only to have the whole thing blow up in their face over a background check? No doubt, there will be some candidates whose past behavior will raise red flags. But when that happens, it should be based on accurate and reliable information obtained in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and addressing areas such as privacy, non-discrimination, accuracy, etc.

Candidates’ Bill of Rights

That said, we thought it would be helpful to create a “Candidates’ Bill of Rights” for employers to use both as an important checklist and even to share with their job candidates. If you are looking for a great place to start developing a compliant background screening program or want to reinforce your practices, this list is for you. Check it out. [...]

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Background Check Consent

If you’ve been paying attention to our blog for the last couple years, you’ll know that we’ve spent a considerable amount of time discussing the flurry of class action lawsuits brought against employers for failure to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). And by no means are these cases for the feint of heart. Typically, we’ve seen settlements range from several hundred thousand dollars to tens of millions.

Well, apparently not everyone has gotten the memo, so if you are concerned about maintaining compliant background check practices, you’ll want to read on.

Last week, a New Jersey federal court approved an $870,000 class settlement against a trucking company who didn’t think they needed to obtain consent from their job candidates to conduct an employment background check. Not only didn’t they have consent, but clearly accuracy wasn’t important either; [...]

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Nearly 600 human resources professionals opened up to EmployeeScreenIQ about how they use employment background checks to make hiring decisions and their candid feedback is detailed in our just-released, fifth annual survey of U.S. based employers. The new report looks at how companies manage the process of employment screening, their practices concerning Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) guidance, candidates’ self-disclosure of criminal records and how they address adverse findings.

In the past few years, the EmployeeScreenIQ Trends Survey has become a benchmark many employers use to evaluate their background screening policies and practices. This year’s survey provides a unique cross-section of opinions and insights from an assortment of organizations and is a must-read for HR professionals that want to learn about what their industry peers are doing.

Today, we’d like to analyze how employers are adapting to the 2012 EEOC guidance on employers’ use of criminal background checks. [...]

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Baltimore Ban the Box

Baltimore is the latest major U.S. city to “ban the box.” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is expected to sign a controversial bill that prohibits both private and public employers from asking job seekers about their criminal background on job applications. The bill passed the city council on April 28, 2014 with a vote of 10-4.

The Baltimore law raises the stakes to a whole new level by imposing criminal penalties for employers who violate the law, including a fine of up to $500 per violation, and up to 90 days in prison. Employers found in violation may face both a fine and imprisonment for each offense. Ironically, in an effort to help ex-cons, the law creates a new class of criminals.

Under the bill, employers may ask about criminal history and conduct a criminal background check only after making a conditional offer of employment. The bill has been widely criticized by business groups who point out the time and expense posed by requiring a conditional offer of employment. The law provides a safe harbor for federal, state, or local mandates where a background check is required, and it also provides an exemption for employers who handle vulnerable populations. [...]

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Candidate Experience

This month, we are looking at things from the job applicant’s point of view. I’m answering a question from Quentin, a job candidate who was rejected for employment by Big Kahuna Burger (BKB). Based on Quentin’s version of the facts, his question reads a lot like what NOT to do for a positive candidate experience. Of course, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

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