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Background Checks in Education

Nearly every week another news story pops up related to background checks in schools—particularly related to the need for improvement. While background checks in the education industry are standardized by state, the question is not whether or not background checks are in place, but rather how comprehensive they are.

Although each state has its own requirements for school background checks, there’s a false sense of security that comes with them. Many states require academic institutions—from preschools to universities (both public and private)—to only conduct a statewide or fingerprint background check. Because of this, many schools are making hiring decisions based on less-than-accurate results. [...]

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Baltimore Ban the Box

Baltimore is the latest major U.S. city to “ban the box.” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is expected to sign a controversial bill that prohibits both private and public employers from asking job seekers about their criminal background on job applications. The bill passed the city council on April 28, 2014 with a vote of 10-4.

The Baltimore law raises the stakes to a whole new level by imposing criminal penalties for employers who violate the law, including a fine of up to $500 per violation, and up to 90 days in prison. Employers found in violation may face both a fine and imprisonment for each offense. Ironically, in an effort to help ex-cons, the law creates a new class of criminals.

Under the bill, employers may ask about criminal history and conduct a criminal background check only after making a conditional offer of employment. The bill has been widely criticized by business groups who point out the time and expense posed by requiring a conditional offer of employment. The law provides a safe harbor for federal, state, or local mandates where a background check is required, and it also provides an exemption for employers who handle vulnerable populations. [...]

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Compliance Employment Background Checks

For those interested in staying up-to-date with the latest in compliance for pre-employment background screening and the laws that affect your use of employment background checks, follow our publication, BTW: Your Guide to Staying Out of Hot Water. This compliance resource has been created by our VP of Compliance and General Counsel, Angela Preston, and is a must-read for human resources and security professionals.

The 411 on 420: Marijuana, Drug Testing, and the Workplace

The May issue of By The Way brings you a topic rising in popularity, The 411 on 420: Marijuana, Drug Testing, and the Workplace. Angela analyzes marijuana in the workplace and the law, the difference between recreational and medicinal use, and what all of this means for employers. Read More Here.

Not So Fast: Swift Settles FCRA Claim with $4.4M for Background Checks

Not too long ago, Swift Transportation finally settled with $4.4M for a claim that the company had violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Find out the results of the case and how to avoid being the next Swift case here.

US Senate Bill Targets Credit Checks and FCRA Reform

The third story discusses the recent SECURE Act of 2014, related to the use of credit reports by employers and others. Read more to find out the contents of this bill and how this could affect employers.

Ask Angela: Background Checks and the Candidate Experience

Lastly, Ask Angela returns this month with a question related to candidate experience. Angela reviews what not to do when it comes to applicants and employment background checks. Read More Here.

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Candidate Experience

This month, we are looking at things from the job applicant’s point of view. I’m answering a question from Quentin, a job candidate who was rejected for employment by Big Kahuna Burger (BKB). Based on Quentin’s version of the facts, his question reads a lot like what NOT to do for a positive candidate experience. Of course, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.


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Substance Abuse Screening

Can you fire someone for testing positive for marijuana in the workplace? With pot dispensaries outnumbering Starbucks in cities like Denver, and websites like weedmaps popping up on the web, it’s a legitimate question. Maintaining a drug free workplace has been somewhat complicated by the legalization of marijuana (aka cannabis, or just plain old “pot”) in the states. Legalization and or de-criminalization of marijuana is a growing trend. The federal government has stepped back from enforcement of marijuana offenses, in part because of the actions of the states.  All of this leaves some employers scratching their heads—wondering, when it comes to pot, what’s legal and what’s not?


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Nearly 600 human resources professionals opened up to EmployeeScreenIQ about how they use employment background checks to make hiring decisions and their candid feedback is detailed in our just-released, fifth annual survey of U.S. based employers. The new report looks at how companies manage the process of employment screening, their practices concerning Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) guidance, candidates’ self-disclosure of criminal records and how they address adverse findings.

In the past few years, the EmployeeScreenIQ Trends Survey has become a benchmark many employers use to evaluate their background screening policies and practices. This year’s survey provides a unique cross-section of opinions and insights from an assortment of organizations and is a must-read for HR professionals that want to learn about what their industry peers are doing.

Today, we’d like to focus on employers’ attitudes about candidates’ resume lies, how often they occur and what they do when they find them.  Half of this year’s respondents reject 90% or more candidates when lies are discovered on their resumes. Another 23% of respondents estimate they hire candidates only 11% to 20% of the time when resume distortions are found. These findings strongly depart from those of last year’s survey, which indicated that employers were rather lenient regarding resume distortions.

What percentage of your candidates do you estimate distort information on their resumes?

Background Check Resume Lies

When comparing this year’s results to last year’s, the largest share of respondents shifted from the first category (0% to 15%) to the second category (16% to 30%), despite the total of both categories remaining almost identical. Perhaps employers are becoming more aware of the widespread problem of job seekers distorting the truth on resumes.

Interestingly, most job seekers are well aware that employers use background checks to review potential new hires. Even so, individuals continue to “tweak” their resumes and hope they won’t be caught. Clearly, employers must remain vigilant in their screening practices.

What percentage of candidates do you estimate are hired in spite of distortions on their resumes?

Resume Lies Employment Background Checks

This year’s findings indicate that employers consider resume distortions as a serious breach of trust and confidence, which directly impacts a candidates’ chances of getting hired. In fact, this data suggests employers are more concerned about resume distortions than criminal convictions. According to half of the respondents, only a small percentage (10% or less) of candidates get hired in spite of resume lies. And only 10% of employers hire these candidates with any frequency (76% of the time or more). This data strongly departs from our 2013 findings, in which more than half of all respondents indicated that very few candidates who distorted information on their resumes were not hired. This year’s findings show that the situation has reversed dramatically.

What types of resume distortions/discrepancies would cause you not to hire a candidate?

Resume Lies Employment Background Checks

Although lying about earning a degree topped respondents’ concerns (84%), our experience shows that only about 8% of candidates actually lie in this way on their resumes. The findings also show that respondents are far less troubled by candidates distorting their salaries or job responsibilities than they are about distorting the reasons for leaving past employers or lying about earning a degree. Covering up gaps in employment dates fell right in the middle of the spectrum.

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Employment Credit Checks

US Senators Brian Schatz (HI) and Sherrod Brown (OH) introduced legislation on April 9, 2014 calling for credit reform. The bill, as introduced, would require significant changes for credit furnishers and consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). The Senators and bill supporters are calling the proposed legislation the “Stop Errors in Credit Use and Reporting”, or SECURE Act of 2014. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Credit reporting agencies are beholden to both the Dodd Frank Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Based on the press releases that announced the introduction of the bill, supporters say that consumers need tighter rules for ensuring that credit reports are accurate. The stated purpose of the bill is, “To enhance the accuracy of credit reporting, provide greater rights to consumers who dispute errors in their credit reports, and for other purposes.” It’s the “other purposes” part that makes me nervous. [...]

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International Background Checks

In the past decade, an increasing number of US-based companies have been recruiting candidates from overseas. It’s important that employers seeking candidates from other countries remain as diligent with international background checks as ones conducted domestically. From candidate experience to performing resume verifications abroad to Safe Harbor certification, our video serves as a guide for employers that want to follow best practices related to international background checks.

While there are similarities between background checks conducted in the United States and internationally, there are a few key differentiators employers should know. [...]

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Swift Transportation Settlement for Background Checks

It’s finally over. Swift Transportation Corporation has entered into an agreement to pay $4.4 million and settle a long-running and contentious class action lawsuit for alleged Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations. The settlement marks the resolution of yet another high dollar case following the growing trend of FCRA class action claims for background check violations. The case, Ellis et al v. Swift Transportation Corporation, was filed on behalf of US job seekers who applied for truck driver positions with Swift from July 23, 2008 and after.

FCRA Claims Abound

Swift is not alone—it’s just the latest large employer to capitulate. K-Mart agreed to pay out $3 million last year to settle an FCRA claim over background checks, specifically for alleged adverse action and notice violations. Domino’s Pizza paid out a cool $2.5 million in a similar case, and US Xpress settled for $2.75 million. Whole Foods and Disney are currently defending class action claims over their background screening policies filed earlier this year. [...]

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Nebraska Ban the Box

On April 18, 2014, Governor Dave Heineman (R) signed off on a ban the box provision for the State of Nebraska.  The “box” in question is the somewhat controversial check-box on job applications that asks prospective employees about their criminal histories. In this case, the ban applies only to public employers in the state. [...]

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