Keeping the People’s Pope Safe: Pope Francis, Volunteers, and Background Checks

Pope Francis

In case you haven’t been tuned in, the country has Pope Francis fever. When Pope Francis arrived in the U.S. this week for a six day visit, he was greeted by a blur of media coverage and was surrounded by an unprecedented army of law enforcement, secret service, and security professionals brought in to manage the crowds and deal with the millions of people who are expected to turn out to see the Pontiff in his Popemobile.

You might be wondering what the Pope’s visit has to do with background checks. Consider this: when the Pope appears at the World Meeting of Families event being held September 26 and 27th in Philadelphia, crowds are expected to close to 2 million people.  And apparently the Papal Father does not like to be confined—he’s known for his propensity to wander with the people. He’s a touchy-feely, hands-on kind of guy. Fun fact: no selfie sticks are allowed near the Pope.

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The State of Marijuana


With the marijuana legalization trend showing no signs of slowing, many employers are finding themselves in a position where they don’t know how to respond to the new laws. Today, 23 states and Washington D.C., have legalized marijuana in some form, with Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C. legalizing recreational use. 25 million Americans have admitted to using marijuana in the past year, while 14 million said they use marijuana regularly.

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New FINRA Rule on Background Checks



FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) has issued a rule change for background screening requirements that goes into effect on July 1, 2015. FINRA Rule 3110(e) is based on similar provisions in NASD Rule 3010(e) and NYSE Rule 345.11. For those of us who are acronym challenged, that’s the National Association of Securities Dealers and the New York Stock Exchange, respectively.

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Credit Reports and the Hiring Process: The Value (and Risk) to HR Professionals

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Imagine one of your employees absconds with some cash. That’s unfortunate—but not nearly as unfortunate as when your CEO discovers the employee had a troubling history of financial irresponsibility. Then the question is not why they took the money, but why you hired them for a position of financial responsibility.

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Are Snow Days Taking a Toll on Your Employment Background Checks?

Brrrrr it’s cold . . . and snowy . . . and icy!!!! No, this isn’t my way of forcing uncomfortable chitchat while we wait for a conference call to start. I actually have a point here.

The Winter of 2014 is wreaking havoc on employment background checks. More specifically, the winter weather has caused more courts to close in more jurisdictions across the country than I ever remember. And when the courts close, that delays criminal background checks. It seems like everyday I am receiving notices from multiple courts indicating that they are closed due to weather. Just within the last couple weeks, we were notified that all courts in the Kansas City area were closed as well as throughout the state of Missouri, Kansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee (parts of), Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, and Kentucky.

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1/3/2014 Court Closures in Massachusetts Due to Snow Storm

Please note that all courts in the state of Massachusetts will be closed today, January 3, 2014 due to a snowstorm affecting the U.S. Northeast. All employment background check requests in these affected courts will be delayed until the courts reopen for business on Monday the 6th.

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Court Affirms EEOC Responsible for $750,000 in Employment Background Check Case

You might recall that back in 2011 a federal judge ordered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to reimburse the staffing company, PeopleMark, for over $750,000 worth of legal fees and expert witness costs it incurred as a result of  overzealous prosecution tactics concerning their employment background check practices.

The premise of the case was the EEOC’s contention that PeopleMark automatically rejected candidates that had criminal records.  Even worse was that they ignored evidence that would have torpedoed their case. The EEOC put together a list of 286 applicants they said were denied employment based on PeopleMark’s blanket policy.  Evidently, they wouldn’t release the names of these applicants until they were compelled to do so by the court. When PeopleMark received the list, they discovered that 22% of these applicants with criminal records were actually hired.  They even notified the EEOC of this fact, yet the EEOC continued to pursue the case.

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