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The Department of Transportation recently announced that they had delayed implementation of their new drug and alcohol testing policies.  I actually caught wind of this substance abuse screening news a week or so ago, but couldn’t make heads or tails over what changed or why. Shocking, right?

I’ve always subscribed to the philosophy of not writing about what you don’t know or understand, so I’ve decided to defer to the folks Delaware law firm, Young, Conaway, Stargatt and Taylor who author The Delaware Employment Law Blog .

Attorney Molly DiBianca writes:

Last month, the Department of Transportation (DOT), announced that changes to its drug and alcohol testing regulations would go into effect on August 25, 2008. The new regulations amended and added to 49 C.F.R. Part 40, relating to adulterated, substituted, diluted, or invalid urine specimens. After complaints from the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD), though, the DOT has delayed the implementation of the new rules. The regulations will be open for comment submission for one month and are scheduled for their official debut in November—in whatever form they take at that point.

So what caused the sudden change of heart? The TTD, along with the Association of American Railroads, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association; the Teamsters, and the Air Transport Association, joined by the Regional Airline Association, asked the DOT to reconsider the portion of the new regulations that would make specimen validity testing (SVT) mandatory. The DOT considers mandatory SVT to be an important way to combat cheating on drug tests.

View the full post here . . .

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NCCI Releases New Study on Workplace Violence

Posted by Ross Arrowsmith on Wednesday, September 3rd 2008 under Workplace Violence Research & Studies

from National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. (NCCI Holdings Inc.)

Download the report: Violence in the Workplace—An Updated Analysis

This is the fourth in a series of NCCI reports on workplace violence. It provides updated data and analyses based on the latest available information from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on workplace homicides and assaults by persons and from NCCI on the characteristics of claims associated with workplace violence.

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One or two sailors testing positive for drugs is one thing.  But EIGHTEEN?  During the course of one random drug test sweep?  On a warship whose mission was to combat drug smuggling?  Wow.

Yet another prime example of why randomly testing your employees for drugs and alcohol is a VERY good idea.  The results might surprise you.

Sailors Sent Back To UK After Failing Drug Tests

Eighteen crewmen are to be sent home after testing positive for cocaine on a warship used for combating drugs trade

Press Association - Tuesday September 2, 2008

Eighteen sailors who tested positive for cocaine on a Royal Navy warship were today preparing to fly back to Britain, the Ministry of Defence said.

The disgraced crewmen, caught during routine testing onboard HMS Liverpool in the south Atlantic, were believed to be landing at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, within the next two days.

They could be facing the sack after what was believed to be the biggest drugs bust in the navy’s history.

Paul Porter, a spokesman for the MoD, said: “We’ve always said that we do not tolerate the misuse of drugs in the navy and as a consequence of these individuals testing positive for drugs, they will be returning to the UK as part of ongoing action against them.

“Where necessary, replacement personnel will be joining the ship to ensure it remains capable of doing its job.”

News of the failed tests came after five soldiers from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery were dismissed for taking cocaine — and eight from the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers were found to have traces of cocaine and cannabis in July.

HMS Liverpool is a type 42 destroyer whose duties in the south Atlantic included combating drug smuggling.

The MoD said the test was carried out after the crew had a “run ashore” on a break in Brazil.

A source told The Sun newspaper that the 240 crew members had to be tested “from end to end”.

“It has been incredibly embarrassing for the navy.”

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I got an interesting email from our Director of Compliance titled “Ironic Spam!”  I guess this spammer didn’t know they were sending this to an expert in compliance in the pre-employment screening industry.  Her made up title, not the subject line of the email:

Subject:  Submit your nomination for a Degree

WHAT A GREAT IDEA!

We provide a concept that will allow anyone with sufficient work experience to obtain a fully verifiable University Degree.

Bachelors, Masters or even a Doctorate.

For US: XXX-XXX-XXXX
Outside US: +1-XXX-XXX-XXXX
“Just leave your NAME & PHONE NO. (with CountryCode)” in the voicemail.

Our staff will get back to you in next few days!

These criminals will go to great lengths to sell you a degree.  According to an article in the SouthTown Star, the FBI set up an investigation in the 1980′s called Dipscam.  It was the largest federal effort to combat degree and diploma mills.  Before the internet the bogus industry went into decline.  “However, the internet has injected such schemes with steroids, and they’re grwoing feversihly.”  Fortunately, with the emergence of the employment screening industry, background checks are uncovering more and more diploma mills.  This is also leading to a more educated human resource professional, curbing resume fraud.

The consequences of this fraud can be serious, especially in the medical field. In 1997, an 8-year-old girl, Rose Kolitwenzew, was treated by a doctor who supposedly had a medical degree from the British West Indies Medical College, but no such college existed. The man’s instructions led to the girl’s death.

It appears the state of Alabama is learning its lesson from recent stories in New Jersey.  Last week we reported New Jersey educators benefiting from fake or online degrees. Now, Alabama education officials are looking into internet courses and degrees.  The state has also taken action against four Birmingham based online colleges.  All Unaccredited!

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Chad Johnson, wide receiver for the NFL’s Cincinatti Bengals has officially changed his last name to “Ocho Cinco”.  Why did he do this?  There are so many issues we could dig through to get to the bottom of this, but let’s just deal with the surface.  Johnson (I mean Ocho Cinco) is known by his attention grabbing antics.  A couple years ago, he began referring to himself as “Ocho Cinco” to pay homage to . . . himself.  His jersey number was 85.  He was fined by the NFL when he placed this name on the back of his jersey.  Ergo, the name change.

Why can those who conduct background checks learn something from Ocho Cinco’s antics?  Well, because it gives us an opportunity to discuss how to conduct a thorough criminal background check.  As you remember, the best practice is to conduct a criminal record search in all counties where an applicant has lived, worked or attended school over at least the last 7 to 10 years under each name used.  So, if we were to conduct a Social Security Number Trace (Address History Search) on Mr. Ocho Cinco, we would find at least the following counties: Hamilton County, Ohio (Johnson’s in-season hometown), Dade County, Florida (Johnson’s off-season hometown) and Benton County, Oregon where Johnson attended Oregan State Univeristy.  And now we know that we would find two names: “Chad Johnson” and “Chad Ocho Cinco”.

Assuming that Chad was just your average job applicant, we wouldn’t know that he had recently changed his last name.  Therefore, the best practice would be to perform a county criminal record search in each of the aforementioned counties under each of the names.

Another celebrity who could really make us work to perform a thorough background check would be musician, Prince, who’s also gone by Prince Rogers Nelson, The Artist Formerly Known as Price, The Artist and at one point just used a symbol as his name.  Okay, who knows if those were all legal names?  Just having fun after a long weekend.

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We’re happy to provide this week’s TWIB Notes as you head into your Labor Day Weekend.  In case you missed our various blog posts and employeescreen University news and notes, here’s a recap of the highlights:

Newsworthy Items

Court Closures

Legislative Update

That’s all I’ve got!  Have a great long, happy and safe Labor Day weekend.

Listen to the TWIB Podcast below:

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Poor Regis University; the institution itself, its faculty and its students.  By now millions of people across the country and the world have learned about the diploma mill in upstate Washington who sold false degrees from the bogus institution of “St. Regis University”.  Well, one could understand how Regis University and St. Regis University might get confused for one another. Unfortunately, the legitimate academic institution, REGIS UNIVERSITY is taking an unfortunate hit.

Earlier today, we posted another story about this St. Regis University diploma mill and we received a comment from the president of REGIS UNIVERSITY in Denver, Colorado, Reverend Michael J. Sheeran.  He wrote:

“As the President of Regis University in Denver, Colorado, I am especially aware of the damage done by degree mills like St. Regis, which has injured the reputation of my school. Founded in 1877, the real Regis has 15,000 students seeking legitimate degrees at our American campuses and online.

In contrast, St. Regis was a fraud masquerading as a legitimate school. It is important that potential students, regulators, and employers differentiate between the legitimate institutions of higher learning and the criminals who cheat the public by using names that trade on the good reputation of real schools.”

In light of this message, we thought we might help the good people at Regis University spread the word.  If you are a prospective employer who receives a resume from someone that claims to have graduated from Regis University, don’t automatically assume that the applicant is lying.

Of course, you should still remember to conduct an Education Verification.

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There are almost 10,000 job seekers out there using fake diploma’s from this one operation.  We have written about diploma mills before, there are hundreds if not thousands of them.  Conducting a thorough background check will identify if your applicant’s education is on a diploma mill list.  Just last week, employeescreenIQ uncovered several unaccredited universities for our clients.  A nice justification for the cost of a thorough employment background investigation!

Bogus Diploma Mill Bust Nets Almost 10,000 Buyers

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

(MCT) CHICAGO—The network of bogus universities was a family-run venture based in rural Washington state, but the criminal enterprise spanned the globe, with operators allegedly paying bribes to Liberian officials and selling fake Ph.D.s and M.D.s as far away as Iran.

They were arrested by state and federal officials with the help of a physics professor.

George Gollin, professor of physics and Fermilab physicist at Illinois, helped unravel the scheme that has resulted in eight guilty pleas this year.

The investigation could spark further charges against hundreds of people who may have bought and used bogus diplomas.

Dubbed “Operation Gold Seal” by federal investigators, the case exploded into the national news with the publication of the names of some 9,600 possible buyers of junk degrees from the phony “St. Regis University” and at least 120 affiliated institutions operated by Dixie and Steven K. Randock Sr.

Claims to advanced degrees from diploma mills and other unaccredited schools are burgeoning, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year as state and federal employees use phony credentials to bump up their salaries, Gollin said.

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Those of you that follow our blog know that we have recently spent some time discussing who is responsible for conducting background checks on contracted employees.   In fact, we thought it was such an important topic, we included it in our Top Background Screening Trends for 2009.  Often times, organizations that hire contractors either forget to inquire about the contractor’s background screening procedures or they just assume that they do so and then further assume that they utilize the same screening criteria?.

Today, I found an interested blog post on The Vendor Management Office Blog which caters to procurement professionals.  The post, Contractors Gone Bad, Who’s Responsible for Screening/Vetting?, authored by Steven R. Guth, Esq., addresses this very topic from the standpoint of a purchasing agent.  See below.

At a prior employer, my procurement organization experienced a dramatic year-over-year increase in the number of staff aug contractors sourced.  In just a couple of years, we went from sourcing around 10 or so staff aug types to almost 200 per year.  Accordingly, we expanded our supplier base of professional services firms and implemented processes and automation to deal with the increased workload.  However, as our requirement for staff aug contractors increased, we began to see a decrease in the “quality” of the contractors and an increase in problems with contracted staff.

In one case, we engaged what appeared to be a very talented contractor with a correspondingly stratospheric hourly rate, but who had an unusual quirk: he didn’t drive.  We didn’t think too much about his quirk and things seemed to be going smoothly.  Until he showed up on the job intoxicated.  For the second time.  The project manager in charge of the contractor tried to work through the first incident with the contractor, but then wisely decided to raise the second incident to my level.  Needless to say, the contractor was gone that same day.

There were other situations where we discovered “flaws” in contractors after they came onsite, but nothing nearly as dramatic as the incident I described here.  We didn’t seem to have this problem with professional services companies where the contracted staff were employees of those companies, but only with staff aug companies (what I coined as “people mills”).

The question that arose from this was: who had the responsibility for screening / vetting the contractors?

View the full post here . . .

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Should job applicants be worried about what their friends on MySpace, Facebook, or LinkedIn may say about them to potential employers? If they are applying to the company the gentleman referenced in this article works for, then maybe. But is it a good practice for this guy to be secretly contacting his candidates’ friends on these sites to get the dirt on them? Absolutely not! If you are an avid reader of our blog, you know the reasons why. But if you are new to our site or just want a refresher course on why using social networking sites to vett your potential employees is a bad idea, click here for our in depth coverage of this topic.

Applying For A Job? Clean Yourself Up On Facebook

Forget the resume. Background checks are going cyber. Chances are your potential employer is logging on to Facebook to check you out. And that means you may want to look carefully at who your friends are.

More and more companies and recruiters are using social networking sites like Facebook or Linked In to check out applicants and to talk to their list of contacts and friends.

Tiana Barci is looking for a job right now. She had no idea companies could be looking at her Facebook page and her messages to friends.

“I wouldn’t want someone I was trying to get a job with asking these random strangers things about me they might just make something up and then that looks bad on me and then I lose basically, ” says Barci.

Employers will often look at your top ten results on Google. And from Google, you can find people with a Facebook or a Linked In profile. That’s what Gabe Bodner does. He’s a mortgage broker for a South Bay company.

“I’ll typically just type in somebody’s name, a candidate’s name into Google and see if there’s anything that pops up,” says Bodner.

Bodner has never contacted an applicant’s friends on Facebook or Linked In, but he won’t rule out doing it.

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