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Jul 15 14

International Screening: The French Model

by Ryan Cowsert
Bonjour

By now I’m sure most of you have all seen the “French Model” commercial from State Farm which demonstrates a perfect example that just because something is on the internet it does not mean that it is true. More importantly how do you verify something from a foreign country?

Companies throughout the United States are continuously looking for new talent. This can be in the form of experience, education or travel for most candidates looking to differentiate themselves. Because of this, employers are being faced with the new challenge of validating information not on U. S. Soil but thousands of miles away. This can be a daunting task when your “French model” candidate explains that they have a degree from such and such university, which 90% of the time you have never heard of but it sounds legitimate.

Screening firms such as CredentialCheck® provide international offerings which can take the guess work out of the screening process when your candidate has lived, worked or attended school in a foreign country.

For all things screening, domestic or international contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or info@credentialcheck.com

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Jul 9 14

Concerned CRAS (Consumer Reporting Agencies)

by Ken Lang
Capture

This group of background screening companies has grown to several hundred but the reality is that there are literally thousands of companies that offer background screening in the U.S.  Why is it important to select a background screening partner that is a member of the Concerned CRAs?   Member companies certify that they don’t expose you to certain risky processes that many CRAs feel are unethical.  Two key positions of the Concerned CRA’s are:

Offshoring of Consumer Information: Some employment background screening firms send individuals’ sensitive personal information (i.e. social security numbers and financial account information) off-shore to be processed. We believe that sending such information off-shore places both applicants and employers at risk and should be avoided whenever possible. Alternatively, when personal information is sent to other countries, applicants and employers should be made aware of this practice in advance.

 

Responsible Use of Criminal Records Database: In addition, some employment background screening firms sell “national criminal records databases” to employers without appropriate safeguards to ensure that the information they are delivering is accurate and up-to-date. We believe that criminal records databases are valuable sources of information if they are used in a responsible manner. We are concerned that these practices do not appropriately protect employment applicants from avoidable harm. Likewise, employers are placed at increased risk of litigation and public relations problems when their employment background screening partners employ these practices.

For more detail on these positions see the Concerned CRAs website:

 

http://www.concernedcras.com

 

 

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Jul 1 14

California Employers Today is the Day

by Business Development
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As of July 1st a new state law in California goes into effect that will apply to state agencies, as well as all cities and counties, including charter cities and special districts.  The law prohibits these agencies from asking an applicant to disclose information regarding a criminal conviction until the agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment qualifications for the position.

This Ban the Box type legislation was signed on October 10, 2013 and adds Section 432.9 to the Labor Code.   As a result public, employers will no longer be allowed to pose any inquiry into a job candidate’s criminal past which would mean that any questions on a job application that seek to determine if the person has a prior criminal record must be removed.   This law does not apply to positions for which a state or local agency is required by law to obtain criminal convictions or for criminal justice agencies.

In order to comply with the new law, public employers as noted above should:

  • Remove conviction inquiries from employment (written or electronic)applications  Employers cannot inquire about a candidate’s conviction history on the employment application (written, oral or electronic forms)

  • Policy Amendments The employer must not inquire into convictions until after the employer has determined if the applicant has met minimum employment qualifications.  The employer’s policy should identify what those minimum qualifications are.

Existing California law currently prohibits both public and private employers from asking an applicant for employment to disclose any information concerning an arrest that did not result in a conviction.

For more information on this topic or HR related topics, please contact us at 888-689-2000 or info@credentialcheck.com

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Jun 25 14

SHRM 2014: The Human in Human Resources

by Ken Lang
everybodysgotsomething

A lot of good information has again been shared at the 2014 National SHRM Conference.  There was a good bit of buzz about the presentation that was done by Robin Roberts of Good Morning America at the opening session.  Robin overcame breast cancer then found out that she had bone marrow cancer (she had a bone marrow transplant).   She is speaking and writing about her life and sharing it with a wide audience.

It is easy in this fast-paced, stressful world to focus on process, policies, procedures, and compliance, all of which are very critical.  Robin in her opening talk focused on the “human” in human resources.  Her message was one of humanity and strength.  She asked HR professionals to be patient with others.  Appropriately the title of her new book is “Everybody’s Got Something.”

To find out more about Robin’s book click here:  http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/robin-roberts/everybodys-got-something/9781455578450/

 

 

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Jun 18 14

Get Your E-Verify & Form I-9 Questions Answered: USCIS to Host Virtual Event

by Dawn Standerwick
USCIS

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be hosting a virtual forum for employers on June 23, 2014 from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm Eastern time.

The misuse of E-Verify and improper completion of the Form I-9 both made our list of top areas of non-compliance for employers.  Many companies underestimate the potential for not completing the Form I-9 properly and worse, underestimate the possible outcomes for non-compliance should they be audited.

You may be thinking that this form is easy to complete, but, being on the front line, talking to organizations and reviewing their files, we invariably find that many companies have errors and inaccuracies on their forms.  There are over 150 possible errors that can be made on the Form I-9 and each is a finable action.   We also find that many employers are unclear about when and how they can utilize E-Verify.  It is important for employers to be compliant on both counts and this virtual forum is an excellent opportunity to hear about these programs and to ask questions.

During this session, the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS officials will discuss new program innovations, best practices and answer questions relating to employment eligibility verification processes.  Employers can also expect to hear a discussion on the future and present state of E-Verify and current information regarding Form I-9 for Employment Eligibility Verification.  You do not have to be a current E-Verify user to participate.

Registration options:

Participants may attend this session in-person at one of the USCIS offices in Washington, DC, Fairfax, VA, Charlotte, NC or Atlanta, GA areas or via the Internet through live Web stream, or by teleconference.

To register, please select the appropriate link and provide your full name and, if applicable, the name of your organization, by following the steps below:

Join the Session in Person:

USCIS Office

Registration Link

Washington, DC

Register Here

Fairfax, VA

Register Here

Charlotte, NC

Register Here

Atlanta, GA

Register Here

Participate by Phone or Internet:
Please visit the USCIS registration page to register for this event.  You’ll be prompted to enter  your email address (password is optional).  Once your registration is processed, you will receive a confirmation email with additional details. If you have any questions regarding the registration process, or if you have not received a confirmation email within two business days after you register, please email Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.

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Jun 10 14

Congressional Hearing Analyzes Concerns Over EEOC Litigation Activities & Guidance on the Use of Criminal Records

by Dawn Standerwick
EEOC

The House Committee on Education & Workforce held a hearing today at 10:00 am ET to examine the concerns with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) activities and their guidance on the use of criminal information in hiring decisions.  The EEOC is tasked with enforcing federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  Members of the committee expressed concerns with the EEOC’s recent guidance that greatly impacts employers’ use of criminal background checks in the hiring process.

The witnesses included Camille Olson, Partner, at Seyfarth Shaw, who spoke on behalf of the US Chamber of Commerce, Todd McCracken, President of the National Small Business Association, Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Lucian Bone, Founder of the Sue Weaver Cause.

Ms. Olson indicated that significant concerns exist regarding the EEOC’s guidance and relatively recent activities to enforce the laws for which they have oversight.  She notes that that the EEOC has opted to aggressively and improperly litigate against employers as opposed to making conciliation efforts as it is required to do.   She testified that the track record of the EEOC’s success for these cases has been poor, and, as a result, criticized by judges who commented that their arguments were circular, unpersuasive and unreasonable and their litigation efforts even “frivolous”.   The cases failed from both fact and force of law perspectives.  As a result, the EEOC was ordered to pay defendants’ attorney fees in excess of $4.7 million dollars, which is typically only imposed in cases where the litigation was discernibly unwarranted.

Mr. McCracken of the National Small Business Association testified that the guidance is complicated, confusing and not articulated in a way that business owners can understand, let alone comply with.  He pointed out that a small business owner may be forced to comply with a state screening mandate, yet, not be immune to an EEOC challenge for complying with that state law.

Ms. Ifill’s testimony supported the EEOC’s efforts and she believes that the guidance helps employers to identify the proper use of criminal information in the hiring process.  She did, however, point out that re-entry systems for ex-offenders is in need of reform.

Lucia Bone testified that the focus on the rights of ex-offenders is misplaced when it takes precedence over those of the public from a safety perspective.  She also noted that there are many reasons for the recidivism rate including drug and alcohol addiction and lack of family structure and vocational training.   She urged that the guidance be suspended until all sides can be fairly represented in the testimony that previously excluded the voice of victims which ultimately lead to an unbalanced guidance.

It is also important to note that the EEOC is not a rule making body yet many contend that the guidance attempts to reach beyond the EEOC’s powers and endeavors to have force of law.  The Chairman read comments that allege that the EEOC is “in search of theory with no facts to support it” and is on a “fishing” expedition.

We applaud this congressional committee’s efforts as well as those by several governmental offices, legislators and State Attorneys General to scrutinize the EEOC’s guidance and actively work to keep these concerns being heard.  We hope the EEOC will respond in a meaningful way to the ongoing concerns expressed about their aggressive litigation activities against employers related to their revised guidance on the use of criminal records in hiring decisions.  Clearly, given their repeated failures to successfully litigate against employers and the overwhelming degree of criticism over the revised guidance, it is a sure sign that they are running afoul of their mission.

For more information about this or other workforce screening topics, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or info@credentialcheck.com.

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Jun 4 14

Home Health Workers and Background Checks

by Ryan Cowsert
Home Health Blog Image

As the population ages, in home care has become one of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. Approximately 3.5 Million Americans received home health care through Medicare in 2012 and many more get similar services through Medicaid or pay home-care agencies directly.

A majority of states have rules that keep violent criminals from caring for the vulnerable in their homes, but in 10 states – Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming do not require background checks, according to the memo published by the Office of Inspector General.

“There are also no federal laws or regulations that prohibit home health agencies from hiring individuals who have been convicted of crimes or who have had a finding concerning abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.”

“Home health-care agencies in states with no rules mandating background checks are still required by Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, to vet prospective workers”, Crisp says. “But agencies that deal only with families paying for care directly may not be subject to the same rules.”

Negligent hiring and retention liabilities still exist for employers who do not perform a proper background check and put their clients at risk.  The risk is heightened when the employee is interacting with a vulnerable individual without supervision which is often the case in a home health care environment.  Employers in this space have a duty to conduct a proper background check and can find themselves in hot water should they fail in their due diligence.

For more information about this or other HR topics, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or info@credentialcheck.com.

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May 28 14

FTC Report Calls for Data Broker Transparency and Accountability

by Dawn Standerwick
big-data

On May 27th, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report entitled “Data Brokers:  A Call for Transparency and Accountability” which criticizes data brokers for operating with a “fundamental lack of transparency”.  It is important to note that the data brokers who were subjects of this report collect data for wide ranging uses and often without the knowledge or consent of the consumer.  While it is true that certain types of data brokers fall under the definition of a consumer reporting agency (CRA) and thus are regulated by the FTC’s Fair Credit Reporting Act, there are significant differences between professional screening firms and data brokers.

The FTC exists to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices against consumers.  We expect to see some changes in the industry in advance of legislation as well as additional litigation on this front.  The FTC report is the result of a study of nine data brokers, who represent a cross-section of the industry, and was undertaken to better understand the how different data brokers operate and the scope and uses of the information they sell on consumers.

The nine data brokers included in the study were Axciom, CoreLogic, Datalogix, eBureau, ID Analytics, Intelius, PeekYou, Rapleaf and Recorded Future.

Below are highlights from the report which underscore the various ways information from data brokers is utilized.

  • Data brokers collect consumer data from extensive online and offline sources, largely without consumers’ knowledge, ranging from consumer purchase data, social media activity, warranty registrations, magazine subscriptions, religious and political affiliations, and other details of consumers’ everyday lives.
  • Consumer data often passes through multiple layers of data brokers sharing data with each other. In fact, seven of the nine data brokers in the Commission study had shared information with another data broker in the study.
  • Data brokers combine online and offline data to market to consumers online.
  • Data brokers combine and analyze data about consumers to make inferences about them, including potentially sensitive inferences such as those related to ethnicity, income, religion, political leanings, age, and health conditions. Potentially sensitive categories from the study are “Urban Scramble” and “Mobile Mixers,” both of which include a high concentration of Latinos and African-Americans with low incomes. The category “Rural Everlasting” includes single men and women over age 66 with “low educational attainment and low net worths.” Other potentially sensitive categories include health-related topics or conditions, such as pregnancy, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
  • Many of the purposes for which data brokers collect and use data pose risks to consumers, such as unanticipated uses of the data. For example, a category like “Biker Enthusiasts” could be used to offer discounts on motorcycles to a consumer, but could also be used by an insurance provider as a sign of risky behavior.
  • Some data brokers unnecessarily store data about consumers indefinitely, which may create security risks.
  • To the extent data brokers currently offer consumers choices about their data, the choices are largely invisible and incomplete.

In an effort to remedy the lack of transparency discovered in their investigation, the FTC has asked Congress to consider enacting legislation that would enable consumers to better understand data brokers, the information they maintain on consumers, how it is used and to provide access to information maintained about them.

Information provided to employers by a Consumer Reporting Agency for the purposes of making an employment decision is heavily regulated by state and federal laws.  Legal compliance and accuracy are two areas that employers should be focused on when deciding where they are getting the information they use to make a hiring decision.  All too often in the market, we see a focus on price rather than on quality, vetted information.  Employers are on notice that some information available to them may not meet legal or accuracy standards, which puts the consumer as well as the employer at risk.

For more information about this or other municipalities who have adopted similar legislation, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or info@credentialcheck.com.

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May 22 14

What’s All the Buzz about?

by Ryan Cowsert
Batman

For the last 4 years of working here at CredentialCheck™, I have been fortunate enough to write several blogs for our corporate site on everything from Hot HR Topics, to down and dirty compliance news that all employers should know but maybe didn’t read (or heed?).

Recently I had a unique idea to utilize LinkedIn as a test group for a few postings. I started off by posting a funny graphic which many of you probably remember as the “batman post” which talked about dressing for the job you want not the job you have. Although I thought this picture was hysterical I could not believe the traction it received. Within 2 days of posting this on LinkedIn I had over 2,000 views and 36 likes, not to mention the comments it received! I was blown away by this, as compared to a compliance post that only received fewer views in 1 week of posting.

Although I know the funny, joking blogs/posts might get more attention, I want to turn today’s post into more of a reflection and a thank you to those who have given all of us the opportunity to celebrate this weekend with our families. As we know, this weekend is Memorial Weekend and this holiday is a day of remembrance for those that have given their lives to protect our freedom.   Remember that there are many important things to give your time and attention to from both personal and professional standpoints.  During your BBQ or while you’re sleeping in on Monday, be thankful and thoughtful of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

For all things HR please feel free to reach CredentialCheck™ Corporation at 888-689-2000 or info@credentialcheck.com.

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May 14 14

Swift Transportation Settles Background Check Class Action Lawsuit

by Dawn Standerwick
swift lawsuit

Swift Transportation has settled a class action suit to the tune of $4.4 million dollars.  The suit alleged it neglected to make proper disclosures to job applicants as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  We first blogged about this case last summer.  The claim states that the company failed to inform and provide over 10,000 candidates copies of their own background checks thus eliminating the opportunity for the candidate to dispute the information.

One plaintiff, James Ellis III, applied to become a Swift driver in 2012 but was turned away due to the information discovered within his background check.

It continues to come as a surprise how common non-compliance amongst employers is with the foremost provisions of the FCRA and there is no immunity based on size with complaints being lodged against companies both large and small.

The FCRA regulates the practices of consumer reporting agencies (“CRAs”) that collect and compile consumer information into consumer reports for use by credit grantors, insurance companies, employers, landlords, and other entities in making eligibility decisions affecting consumers.  The aim is to protect consumers from the potential, devastating impacts of misuse and inaccurate information and includes requirements that employers who utilize a consumer reporting agency (CRAs) must follow.

One oft missed compliance area for employers continues to be the adverse action requirements.  The process as outlined in the FCRA is a two-step process that includes required disclosures that must be made in advance of an adverse decision being made and a follow up disclosure that must be made post decision.  The process is critical because it gives the individual being screened the opportunity to dispute information if it is inaccurate.

The Federal Trade Commission has indicated that employers can outsource this process to their background screening partner.  This is a service that Credential Check provides to many of our clients and is one way we support employer compliance by ensuring that adverse action processes are fulfilled consistently and compliantly.  For companies that prefer to manage this process internally, we do make sample notices available that meet requirements.

Since this clearly a big area of focus for the FTC, whether outsourced or company managed, employers should be on notice that a complete review of their processes relating to FCRA compliance is in order.

If your organization would like to ask questions about employer responsibilities under the FCRA or to further discuss how Credential Check can assist with compliance requirements, please contact our office at 888-689-2000, or reach us by email at info@credentialcheck.com.

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