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Personal Background Checks


The Senate Finance Committee yesterday voted unanimously to approve legislation called “The Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act.”  This act would strengthen how background checks are currently conducted for nursing homes and home health care agencies.  The bill is focused on those who work with elderly patients.  Senate Bill S. 1577 has been passed by this committee and will move on to a full Senate vote.  If passed it will create a consistent nationwide system for background checks.

Currently, seven states are part of a pilot program to test this method that has been in place for five years.  According to an article in Modern Health care:

Forty-one states require criminal background checks on most aides prior to employment, but only half of those require criminal background checks at the federal level. In 2004, state agencies reported that they received more than 500,000 reports of elder and vulnerable adult abuse.

The full text of the Committee Print can be found here.

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Once again highlighting the use of background checks are two new stories about diploma mills.  The Flint Journal posted an editorial called: Flint Journal Editorial: diploma mills devalue meaning of education.  In it,  the author relates this type of fraud to larceny.  The Flint Journal also found:

• So-called diploma mills often claim to award degrees based on “life experience.”

• The Flint Journal found that the online-only Ashwood University approved a doctorate in medicine and surgery for an applicant with no proof of medical experience or education.

• Belford University, which purportedly operates out of Humble, Texas, approved a doctorate in early childhood education for a resume that listed “convicted of child porn charges” under experience.

• Prices ranged from $200-$700 depending on the level of degree, GPA and award purchases.

Over the past few weeks we reported several stories about the NJ Department of Education accepting degrees from schools that were questionable.  In an honorable move the Freehold Regional High School District Superintendent H. James Wasser and the Assistant Superintendent Donna Evangelista said they would stop using their Doctoral titles and relinquish their $2,500.00 annual pay raises.

Read: MONMOUTH COUNTY: School officials return pay raises tied to questionable diploma

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Are you worried about your applicants’ and/or employees’ ability to cheat the drug test?  If you are, you really shouldn’t be.  Drug testing laboratories have measures in place to catch those who think they are smart enough to beat the system.

To Catch A Cheat

Clinical chemists battle products designed to fool workplace drug tests

Melody Voith, Chemical & Engineering News – September 8, 2008

EAGER JOB CANDIDATES who receive an offer of employment might feel as though they have won an Olympic gold medal—especially when they are asked to provide a sample for a drug test. And just like at the Olympics, some test subjects will try to beat the system.

But unlike at the Olympics, where officials test athletes for performance-enhancing substances (C&EN, Aug. 11, page 25), workplace drug tests are performed to identify those whose use of illicit substances may impair their job performance and create liabilities for their employers.

According to Amitava Dasgupta, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Texas Medical School, Houston, many products are on the market that prospective employees can use to dilute, substitute, or adulterate their test samples. In a talk at the annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Chemists in Washington, D.C., in late July, he advised laboratory chemists to be vigilant in their pursuit of valid test results. “Toxicologists are smarter than drug users,” he said, but they need to know the tricks of the trade.


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The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) did a nice job recapping issues they covered at this years Democratic and Republican National Conventions.  According to SHRM Chief Operating Officer (COO) China Miner Gorman; “This election tees up HR issues like maybe no other election.”

One of SHRM’s hotbed issues continues to be the pending immigration reform and the extension of the E-Verify program.  E-Verify was officially extended last month but there still remains a plethora of immigration reform issues.  Gorman said “all are in play and will end up on the desks of our members.”

There are no significant federal issues in regard to background checks but the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) remains engaged on all issues.

For more information read: “In the Twin Cities, the Action Isn’t All in the Center

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EMERYVILLE — Stephen Wesley, the Emery Unified School District superintendent who resigned Wednesday over allegations he falsified his resume, publicly apologized Thursday for embroiling the district in controversy.

Wesley’s apology came during the public comment portion of the previously scheduled district Advisory Committee meeting, a day after school board trustees voted unanimously to accept the superintendent’s resignation.

Wesley admitted his mistake and said he still wants to be part of this community, according to school board vice president Kurt Brinkman.

Brinkman said Wesley told the crowd at the meeting that he was on his way to Arizona when he decided to head back.

“That took a lot of guts. I have more admiration for the man than I ever had before,” Brinkman said.

Wesley’s appearance, which was not scheduled, didn’t come as a surprise to supporters, who credit Wesley with strengthening the tiny district wedged between Oakland and Berkeley.


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With all the news over the past few weeks about Presidential vetting I felt it was appropriate to clarify some important points.  Vetting a person through the media and through associates is much different than your traditional employment background investigation.  Typically (and legally) a background check on a potential employee will not include allegations of pregnancy, marital infidelity and spousal arrests.   Picking a Vice Presidential candidate leads the “vetter” down a much different path.  An employer is not concerned so much with how the Country will perceive their employee.  For a more in-depth view of how an employment background check is done, read our series Employment Screening 101. For information on other areas of employment screening check out employeescreen University.  To read more about how potential VP candidates are vetted… any newspaper, blog, magazine,  etc.!!

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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


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.

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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