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According to CBS 6 in Richmond, Virginia city public school board members are taking issue with the district’s request of them to submit to criminal background checks.  Newly elected board member Kristen Larson was quoted as saying. “We are elected officials, we are not employees of Richmond Public Schools.”  She also stated that their job as board members was “administrative in nature”, insinuating that this would alleviate the need to conduct the background check.

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I’m sure you’ve heard more than enough about the rising number of reports of abuse in Boy Scouts of America. However, another angle regarding criminal background checks within BSA is interesting. Not only did the organization not do criminal background checks for their volunteers for a long time, but for many years, they felt it was not worth the cost to do background checks for anyone working within the organization.

The LA Times reported that some of the major reasons for not conducting background checks included, “checks would cost too much, scare away volunteers and provide a false sense of security.” Of course, since volunteers are unpaid, this could be seen as a loss for BSA. It can also be argued that in the long run it would be better to lose a few volunteers than harm the children the organization exists for. In addition, maybe if a volunteer had a criminal record or was a sex offender, the mention of a background check could have filtered them out of the process anyway.

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This week at EmployeeScreenIQ, we jumped right back into the work week with our hands full. We announced our upcoming December webinar, Background Screening Partner Selection: What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You. We also covered the story of Instant Checkmate, an online background screening company, that possibly uses racial profiling in their online advertisements. Lastly, we were excited to announce an upcoming U.S. Commission on Civil Rights briefing regarding changes in EEOC guidelines and the impact of criminal background checks.  EmployeeScreenIQ’s Nick Fishman will have an opportunity to testify on behalf of background screening companies at this briefing. There were a couple other posts this week, as well as a post this morning, CFPB Releases New Background Screening Forms . . . Again. As always, continue to read our blog and if you’re not subscribed, consider adding the IQ blog to your RSS feed!

 

Background Screening Partner Selection: What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You!

By now, you know the importance of a background check when identifying and hiring the best employee. But simply having an employment background screening provider is not enough. The truth is that your employment background checks are only as effective and reliable as your provider. So how do you weed through all of the competing sales jargon to identify the best partner for you? See More

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The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has announced its briefing regarding the recent changes in the EEOC’s Conviction Records Policy on the employment of black and Hispanic workers as well as the impact of criminal background checks for employers. On one side of the conversation, it’s argued by employers that conducting criminal background checks assists in ultimately ensuring a safer work environment for everyone, reducing negligent hiring and criminal activity in the workplace. From the EEOC’s perspective the increase in criminal background checks for employment could cause discrimination in the hiring process. This hearing will bring in a number of experts who will present their experiences to assist in this investigation. This investigation will serve for use in future decisions with changes in EEOC guidelinesEmployeeScreenIQ’s Nick Fishman, Chief Marketing Officer and EVP, will be among these experts and presenting the perspective from the background screening industry.

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While your name might not show up with a criminal record in a background check, what if an advertisement for a background check service used your name stating, “John Smith, arrested.” Although there may be someone with a criminal record under that name, you don’t have a criminal record. How would you feel if you saw this advertised while doing a simple search on the internet?

A few cases have shown up recently for professionals with ethnic sounding names finding that their names are listed in Instant Checkmate’s advertisements typically with the word, “arrested” or something equally misleading. This points to suspicion that the website, Instantcheckmate.com is using profiling in their advertisements. One example is Ebony Jefferson. When her name was found in an Instant Checkmate advertisement, it read, “Ebony Jefferson, arrested?” But when a similar name, Emily Jefferson was listed in an ad, it simply said, “We found Emily Jefferson.” Coincidence? Perhaps. However there are many instances where similar results were found in relation to ethnic sounding names being associated with listing words like “arrest” with those names in particular. Another example is the case of Latanya Sweeney,a Harvard University professor of government, whose name was found by a colleague while searching for an article Sweeney published. The ad listed her name alongside, “arrested” much like Ebony Jefferson.

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With NBC’s Today Show report on the negative side to background screening companies, another case arose this past week with the story of Darlene T. Martinez of Arizona, who was denied a job due to an inaccurate background check. After the NBC report, many background screening companies, including EmployeeScreenIQ responded confirming that, yes, companies in our industry do make mistakes sometimes. While we can’t speak for our competitors, our company does everything possible to conduct a complete and accurate background check, especially when it comes to criminal records. However, for Darlene, the mistake in her background check not only cost her a job opportunity, but caused additional hardships for the months that followed.

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On this Eve of Thanksgiving Eve (yes, I’ve just created two new holidays), we are all looking forward to the greatest holiday of all time and can only hope that when the turkey emerges from his cave this year that he will see his shadow and there will be six more weeks of Thanksgiving!!!!

So what better way to kick off the festivities than with our Annual List of Employment Background Check Turkeys.  Who could forget this motley group of fools that we’ve chronicled over the past year? [...]

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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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