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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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Last month, we had a lively panel discussion on how to combat resume fraud through effective employment background screening techniques featuring experts from EmployeeScreenIQ as well as Karen Jones from the “Taj Majal” of all grocery chains, Wegmans (if you’ve ever been to one you know what I’m talking about) and employment verification guru, Craig Caddell.

The presentation, Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: An Employer’s Guide to Effective Resume Verification,” was attended by more than 450 human resources professionals and includes a great Q & A at the end.  

If you question the whether your candidates are giving you the whole truth and nothing but the truth about their past employment experience and education history, then this webinar is for you. And best of all, it’s free. You don’t even have to register.

Here’s a sneak peek about what you’ll learn.


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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.

A Candidate’s 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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Background Checks in Education

Nearly every week another news story pops up related to background checks in schools—particularly related to the need for improvement. While background checks in the education industry are standardized by state, the question is not whether or not background checks are in place, but rather how comprehensive they are.

Although each state has its own requirements for school background checks, there’s a false sense of security that comes with them. Many states require academic institutions—from preschools to universities (both public and private)—to only conduct a statewide or fingerprint background check. Because of this, many schools are making hiring decisions based on less-than-accurate results. [...]

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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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Employment Credit Checks

US Senators Brian Schatz (HI) and Sherrod Brown (OH) introduced legislation on April 9, 2014 calling for credit reform. The bill, as introduced, would require significant changes for credit furnishers and consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). The Senators and bill supporters are calling the proposed legislation the “Stop Errors in Credit Use and Reporting”, or SECURE Act of 2014. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Credit reporting agencies are beholden to both the Dodd Frank Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Based on the press releases that announced the introduction of the bill, supporters say that consumers need tighter rules for ensuring that credit reports are accurate. The stated purpose of the bill is, “To enhance the accuracy of credit reporting, provide greater rights to consumers who dispute errors in their credit reports, and for other purposes.” It’s the “other purposes” part that makes me nervous. [...]

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