The IQ Blog offers human resources and risk management professionals a 360-degree analysis of the evolving trends, ever-changing legislation and innovations in the world of employment background checks, with an occasional opinion or two and attitude mixed in.
For those of you interested in keeping up with the latest in compliance for pre-employment background screeningand the laws that affect your use of employee 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.
I have taken a long hiatus from posting to our blog. There are several reasons, time is one of them but mostly because of the wonderful bloggers we now have; Nick, Angela, Lauren and Kevin have done a great job! Don’t ask Nick, he’ll tell you its because he is tired of correcting my horrible writing skills. (Shameless plug to the best editor and ghost writer we have!) I am coming out of retirement, probably temporarily, because I just read the best article I have yet to see on the new EEOC Guidance in Forbes Magazine. I’ll save the commentary because it stands on its own, I will however highlight my favorite quotes below! If you have not been following our excellent reporting on this issue, now is your chance, this is the one article you should read!
Keeping up with ban-the-box legislation is practically a full time job. My Google alerts on this topic have been blowing up. Most recently, Seattle City Council has voted to officially ban the box, joining the State of Minnesota and the City of Buffalo in passing laws eliminating the check box asking about criminal history on a job application. While none of these laws prohibit criminal background checks outright, they do place limits on when and how background checks can be performed. Similarities to the EEOC guidance on criminal background checks abound–restrictions that mirror the guidance are sprinkled throughout the new laws and ordinances.
Here is an update on what you need to know:
The Seattle City Council passed the “Job Assistance Bill” on June 10, 2013 with a unanimous 9-0 vote. Activists in Seattle are celebrating the win after a long fight lead by a number of community groups–Columbia Legal Services, the Seattle Tenants Union, the Seattle homeless newspaper Real Change, the No New Jim Crow Seattle Campaign, Got Green, the NAACP, the Seattle Human Rights Commission and several others. The Seattle Chamber and employers were able to make some amendments, but the law will still require significant changes for private employers in and around Seattle. It takes effect November 1, 2013. [...]
Based on this photo, it’s apparent that this was an accident. And while accidents happen, they can also be prevented. In the background screening industry, we’ve often witnessed that the lack of acriminal background checkeventually leads to trouble for employers, whether it’s on a small or large scale. Read More
The EEOC continued its crusade to fight discrimination by way of litigation this week. The agency has filed two lawsuits in federal courts in Illinois and South Carolina, accusing BMW and Dollar General of discriminatory use ofcriminal background checks. These lawsuits open a new chapter in the continued debate over the use of criminal background checks in the hiring process. Read More
The EEOC continued its crusade to fight discrimination by way of litigation this week. The agency has filed two lawsuits in federal courts in Illinois and South Carolina, accusing BMW and Dollar General of discriminatory use ofcriminal background checks. These lawsuits open a new chapter in the continued debate over the use of criminal background checks in the hiring process. The commission is claiming that both companies have implemented criminal background screening policies that have the effect of discriminating against black applicants.
Background on the EEOC Guidance
These cases are the first significant cases to test the commission’s new guidance for the use of criminal background checks. The guidance, issued in April of 2012, has sparked controversy and confusion over when and how criminal background checks can and should be used. The guidance came out on the heels of some substantial settlements, including a $3.1M payout by Pepsi, based on the EEOC’s theory that certain policies, while neutral on their face, have the effect of discriminating against blacks and other minorities. The agency announced earlier this year that it would continue to focus on enforcement of the guidance, suing big employers for systemic discrimination by filing “disparate impact” cases. And true to their word, here are two new cases to test their theories.
Many of you have seen the following statistic we regularly share to highlight how we stand out in a crowded marketplace:
EmployeeScreenIQ is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction earned by less than two percent of all employment screening companies.
Someone recently raised the concern that this statistic was inaccurate and made it look as if our industry wasn’t serious about ensuring the highest level of compliance, best practices, accuracy, etc. when it comes to employment background checks.
So I thought I would take this opportunity to share the math behind our statistic, what accreditation means to employers and what accredited companies are doing to heighten awareness for this important program. [...]
The U.S. Congress recently passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) which helps individuals protect their right to privacy and prohibits an employer from impersonating an employee online when other employees are interacting across social media platforms. Removed from this bill at the last minute was a provision that would have banned employers from asking job candidates and employees for their social media passwords. Given the public sentiment on this issue, not to mention the media outcry, this omission is a big surprise to me. Read More
Background screening companies exist to help employers find reliable and trustworthy employees. Do you know what qualities you should evaluate when seeking a provider? Our experts discuss the fundamental requirements that should be on your checklist-whether you’re seeking a provider for the first time or re-evaluating your screening program. Jason, Nick and Kevin discuss several topics, including the notion of an “apples to apples” comparison, the importance of accreditationand how to separate marketing claims from the real deal. Read More
The Federal Trade Commission recently sent letters to ten data broker companies warning that their practices could violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) after a test-shopping operation by the FTC indicated the background screening companies were willing to sell consumer information without abiding by FCRA requirements. Read More
The Federal Trade Commission recently sent letters to ten data broker companies warning that their practices could violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) after a test-shopping operation by the FTC indicated the background screening companies were willing to sell consumer information without abiding by FCRA requirements. It’s unclear what requirements they are accused of violating, but the commission included the following commentary in the release:
“Data broker companies that collect, distribute or sell this information are considered consumer reporting agencies under the FCRA, meaning they must reasonably verify the identities of their customers and make sure that these customers have a legitimate purpose for receiving the information. This requirement ensures that the privacy of sensitive consumer report information is protected. Of the 45 companies contacted by FTC staff in the test-shopper operation, ten appear to violate the FCRA by offering to provide the information without complying with the law’s requirements.”
In other words, background screening companies need to engage in proper due diligence to ensure they know who they are doing business with and establish that the entity has a permissible purpose to obtain the information. Much of this information can be established through a compliant User Agreement. But beyond the agreement are taking the proper steps to verify the information provided — things like conducting a 3rd party site inspection of the client’s place of business, independently verifying the client’s physical address, their phone number and the type of business they are engaged in.
According to the FTC release, “staff members posed as individuals or representatives of companies seeking information about consumers to make decisions related to their creditworthiness, eligibility for insurance or suitability for employment.”
Other FCRA requirements include certifying that their clients obtain a signed release from the subject of an employment background check, provide the subject with a summary of their rights under the FCRA, allow the subject to dispute the results of their search and engage in the prescribed Adverse Action process if they choose not to hire the candidate based on the outcome of their background check.
It is clear from these actions that the FTC is aggressively enforcing their background screening guidelines and in my opinion, for good reason. These laws are designed to project all of us: job candidates, employers and background background screening companies. Abiding by these requirements is just good business.
I am not suggesting that the companies that received these letters have blatantly violated FCRA law (in bold for those who accuse us of capitalizing on negative industry information). These could be technical violations or misconstrued information by the FTC. However it is important for employers to properly vet their providers so that they don’t unknowingly violate these requirements.
For more information on how to select a qualified provider, check out the following video:
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