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Personal Background Checks

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While a great amount of confidence comes with conducting a background check on someone working with children, what happens if a criminal history was not found in the background check? This was exactly the case with Jessica Tata, who ran a day care from her home in Texas where a fire started and killed four children under her care, in addition to injuring others. When Jessica applied for a child care license in Texas she refrained from listing that she had a criminal past–a juvenile conviction from when she was in high school, which could have prevented the child care license from being issued. Ironically, the juvenile conviction was an arson related case as well. While a background check was conducted, no record was found.

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With less than a week left before the big day­­­-AKA Thanksgiving, you are probably busy preparing plans with your family or trying to get ahead with work due to the short work week for the upcoming holiday. With so many responsibilities vying for your attention, you may have missed some industry news highlighted in our blog this week. We covered two stories regarding employees with criminal records who work with children, including School Employees with Criminal Backgrounds and No Records Found for Babysitters with Criminal Records. We also caught wind of a few additional details about the developing background check ban in Seattle, Seattle Still Working to Ban Employer Access to Criminal Records. And finally, as an addition to last week’s blog on the investigative report by the Today Show on the inaccuracies of background screening companies, Nick Fishman, our Chief Marketing Officer offered an additional response with a slightly different perspective, Today Show Report Highlights Room for Improvement.

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Seattle Still Working to Limit Background Check Process

The Washington Policy Center posted an article on some additional information regarding a ban on employment background checks in Seattle. While background checks are not being banned altogether, employers in Seattle will be extremely limited when it comes to pre-employment screening. This “Job Assistance Legislation” offers both pros and cons. (See More)

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You may remember previous blog posts from Angela Bosworth in September on Seattle’s potential “ban” on employment background checks. If you missed them, check them out for some background:

A Ban on Criminal Background Checks in Seattle? Short Answer, No.

Seattle Really Is Trying to Ban Criminal Background Checks

The Washington Policy Center posted an article on some additional information regarding a ban on employment background checks in Seattle. While background checks are not being banned altogether, employers in Seattle will be extremely limited when it comes to pre-employment screening. This “Job Assistance Legislation” offers both pros and cons. Most importantly, this legislation would prevent criminal recidivism and perhaps give these candidates with criminal records a better chance at getting the job. It could also prove to be a positive for candidates with a criminal past so they are not differentiated from those with a clean record.

 

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Imagine you want a job as a babysitter. You love kids, so you sign up on a free online service that connects babysitters, or caregivers, to jobs. The only problem is that you have a criminal record that you don’t want a potential parent/employer to know about…and if that’s the case, you may be in luck on some caregiver websites. While EmployeeScreenIQ is in the business of background screening for companies and not individuals, this is a perfect example of what happens when inaccurate information is received from background checks that are completed through certain online services. NBC Chicago reported on two caregiver websites, both of which could be a parent’s dream to finding a caregiver, anywhere from a full-time nanny to a babysitter for date night. The two sites in this article are Sittercity.com and Care.com,  and both allow potential sitters to sign up for free.

NBC Chicago created a profile and conducted background checks on four applicants through these two websites. Each site promises accuracy in their background screening, however they can be rather expensive, with a price tag of up to $85 on Sittercity.com. While you’re hoping the price is worth it,  you might get what you paid for, and you might not.

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Would You Hire This “Idiot”?

Published on 13 November 2012 by in Criminal Records

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Background Check Idiot

We all do dumb things.  If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you I do them every day. Well, thank goodness I’ve never been brought in front of a judge to answer for my idiocy like this Ohio woman who was sentenced to hold up a sign proclaiming  that she was an idiot.  The punishment couldn’t have been more fitting for her offense.  On multiple occasions she drove up on a school sidewalk around a bus that was loading special needs children.

According to WJW Fox 8, Shena Hardin, 32, of Cleveland pleaded guilty to not stopping for a school bus and reckless operation. A Cleveland Municipal Court judge ordered her driver’s license suspended for 30 days and ordered her to pay $250 in court costs.

As part of the sentence, Hardin must also must wear a sign that reads, “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid the school bus” for an hour a day for two days next week at the intersection where the incident occurred, according to Fox 8.

Now, if you were an employer and this woman applied for a job, that would be one entertaining employment background check.

Check out this clip from the Today Show.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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As you’ve probably heard before, there are many cases of school employees having criminal records that are not revealed until after they have worked for a school system for a significant period of time. In some instances, this might be because the background check that was conducted was not thorough enough, however, in other cases, previous regulations allowed those with criminal records to work for a school district, as long as enough time had passed since they were convicted. As laws and regulations are narrowing down to prevent these employees from working for the school system, there are many situations that do not have a black or white answer.

One such case reported by WTAE Pittsburgh, is the employment of Art Johnson, a counselor for young fathers at a community center in Penn Hills. In 1982, Johnson was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and served five years in prison. He says he now uses his experiences from when he was younger to educate the men he counsels. Johnson stated, “I’m not coming at them with what I found out in a book. I’m sharing my experience, my strengths and my hopes…” At the time Johnson was hired, the law did not prevent him from getting the job. However, under a new state law, there will be a lifetime employment ban for certain criminal offenses. While a judge ruled that Johnson could keep his job, the Department of Education appealed the decision. In addition, 53 people working in schools have been reported for criminal records that are covered under this new law. While some of these cases may be a grey area, the state of Pennsylvania does not allow employment to anyone with a criminal record that relates to children. The Pennsylvania Department of Education also has an extensive section on their website regarding background checks for school employees.

Another article from The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC covers the strategic plan for Onslow County Boys & Girls Club and Onslow County Schools, in addition to other local programs. Not only do they conduct national background checks, county records searches, and checks for sexual offenders, but they also institute a program that regulates employees and volunteers from being left alone with children one on one.

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I’ve taken the weekend to collect my thoughts and think about the expose that aired on NBC’s Today Show that called into question the accuracy of employment background checks.  And truth be told, I’m somewhat torn.  On one hand, I am very proud of the service that our industry provides.  We help employers make informed decisions about the people they want to hire.  In doing so, we help them protect their businesses, their employees and the clients or the people they serve.  It’s an honorable profession, but it is hard to know the impact of what we do.  How do you prove that you prevented a violent crime in the work place when the employee background check you provided included a record that caused the employer to move in a different direction?

So fine, we don’t get to bask in the glory of our work the way others do by celebrating the wins.  But we do care deeply about the work we perform and care about getting it right for our clients and their job candidates.  It doesn’t serve anyone well to provide inaccurate reports.

So, here’s the other side of the equation.

There are companies in our industry who report inaccurate information from time to time.  It isn’t their goal to do so, but it’s faster and less expensive to do it that way.  And guess what?  It’s legal.  The practice is referred to as contemporaneous notice and it requires employment background screening companies to report criminal records as is and without verifying the information.  They then have the responsibility of sending the applicant a copy of their record and allowing them to dispute the results if they are incorrect.

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In case you’re not in the know, next week (November 11th-17th) is International Fraud Awareness Week 2012. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners sponsors this awareness week and encourages companies to become more educated in the hazards of fraud in the workplace. Both small and large companies are at a greater risk of employee fraud, claims The Hetherington Group, a consulting, publishing, and training firm focusing on intelligence, security, and investigations. Statistically speaking, “fraudulent activity occurs within the 23 million small businesses in the United States that account for 54% of all U.S. sales and provide 55% of all jobs.” Whether you’re a small, medium, or large company, you can’t afford this kind of loss.

Cynthia Hetherington, founder of Hetherington Group, offers a few tips to prevent fraud from happening in the first place. A few precautions to consider:

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The Eastern District of Pennsylvania has ruled that Section 1681c of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is not an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.  The case, King v. General Information Services, Inc., Case No. 10-6850 (E.D. of Penn.), upholds the enforceability of FCRA Section 1681c, which requires accuracy and bars disclosure of potential adverse information after a defined period of time. The defendant in the case, a consumer reporting agency conducting background checks, argued that this section of the FCRA was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. The Court disagreed, saying that 1681c embodies Congress’ dual interests in meeting business needs and protecting consumer privacy. “By barring consumer reporting agencies from disclosing adverse pieces of information after a certain period of time, section 1681c directly advances the governmental interest in protecting individuals’ privacy in potentially harmful and embarrassing information”.

So when it comes to reporting out-of-date arrest information on a background check, free speech is not a defense.  Makes sense, right? I think so. GIS had argued that Section 1681c was unconstitutional in light of a recent Supreme Court case, Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc., 131 S. Ct. 2653 (2011), which struck down a Vermont law on First Amendment grounds because that law had speaker-based and content-based restrictions.  GIS unsuccessfully argued that Section 1681c was overly restrictive by limiting speech about arrest records– speech that it claimed was subject to a stricter level of protection under Sorrell.

The King court disagreed, finding that CRAs have a unique impact on personal privacy, compiling otherwise publicly available information in a single source. This practice is a form of commercial speech that is much different from when the information is publicly available in many sources, as evidenced by the fact that employers are willing to pay for consumer reports.

This court shut the door on the argument that consumer reports should be protected as free speech, even though the reports are comprised of public record. Nice try, GIS. It was a stretch, in my opinion. But now we know how at least one court interprets the question.

 

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Happy Friday (and happy November)! It’s been a beyond eventful week at EmployeeScreenIQ. If you’ve had a busy week like us, you may have missed what we’ve been talking about on our employment screening blog. And if you’re on the East Coast (like us), more than likely you felt the effects of Frankenstorm AKA Hurricane Sandy, both in business as well with possible court delays on your criminal background checks. Not only was there a hurricane this week, but Halloween happened to be Wednesday, which was also the same day EmployeeScreenIQ released our 4th Annual Background Screening Trends Survey! If you haven’t heard about our annual survey yet, check out the blog post below and learn about an exciting opportunity to win the new iPad Mini. We’ve also posted a few newsworthy blog posts this week, so whatever you may have missed, take a look at our snapshot of this week!

 

Your Vote Counts: Take Our Survey for a Chance to Win an iPad Mini

While you might not feel confident in your voice being heard in the presidential election, you can be confident that your voice will be heard in EmployeeScreenIQ’s 4th Annual Background Screening Trends Survey. And even better, you also have the opportunity to win an iPad mini when you complete the survey! (See More)

 

 

 

Frankenstorm Wreaking Havoc on Criminal Background Checks

By now, you’d have to be living under a rock not know about the devastation Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy has caused over the entire Eastern seaboard. Towns are flooded and damaged, people have been evacuated (including my sister who lives in Brooklyn) and millions are without power. (See More)

 

 

 

Teacher’s Aide Fired for 1965 Manslaughter Conviction

Do you think that a woman who was convicted of manslaughter in 1965 when she was 17 years old for her role in the murder of child should have been fired? What if I told you that this woman had served her time and has not run afoul of the law since? (See More)

You can also read our follow up blog here.

 

 

Just for fun, take a look at one of our ESIQ costume contest participants from Halloween this week!

Have a restful weekend everyone!

 

 

 

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