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Nov 26 14

“Thanksgiving Comes Again”

by Business Development
November-Turkey-Clipart-4

Many of us are in the heat of strategic planning, budgeting, recruiting and open enrollment.  That makes Thanksgiving the perfect time to reflect and take a deep breath before we dive back into the thick of things after the holiday.

I read a book this year entitled “The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner and it analyzed countries around the world to see which people were the happiest overall and why.  While there are no easy answers and I won’t give away the conclusions, one of the cornerstones was living a life of gratitude.  We thought we would share an appropriate poem about the holiday below:

All in a Word

By Aileen Fischer

T is for time to be together, turkey, talk and tangy weather.

H for harvest stored away, home, and hearth, and holiday.

A for autumn’s frosty art, and abundance in the heart.

N for neighbors, and November, nice things, new things to remember.

K for kitchen, kettles’ croon, kith and kin expected soon.

S for sizzles, sights and sounds, and something special that abounds.

That spells – THANKS – for joy in living and a jolly good Thanksgiving.

From the entire team here at Credential Check Corporation, we wish you and your family a wonderful, safe and fun Thanksgiving Holiday.

For more questions on this topic or even background screening or drug testing, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or info@credentialcheck.com.

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Nov 18 14

New FTC Guide Educates Applicants and Employees About Background Checks

by Dawn Standerwick
FTC tips

The Federal Trade Commission has released a guide entitled Background Checks:  Tips for Job Applicants and Employees which is directed to individuals who are subject to a background check for employment purposes.  The 10 page piece illustrates what employers may ask, what can be expected and what rights the individual or consumer has in the process.  As expected, it also provides information for consumers to report any potential violation of the law or their rights to the FTC or the EEOC.

Professional screening firms, such as Credential Check, regularly educate both employers and applicants as to their rights and requirements and responsibilities under the law and sincerely want all involved in the process to be fully educated.  We agree that it is very important that individual rights are upheld and that the person being checked has a full understanding of what to expect.

The FTC has recently developed similar materials for employers in cooperation with the EEOC to help ensure that their screening programs don’t violate consumer protection laws or discriminate.  From the EEOC’s perspective, that also includes policies that can unintentionally create a disparate impact on certain protected classes.

It’s not surprising that the EEOC has weighed in on this guide and there are two areas that should be called out.

    1. The guide states that “some employers might say not to apply if you have a criminal record.  That could be discrimination” and provides contact information for the EEOC.  This is yet another clear warning to employers to be very careful about not having a blanket hiring policy which might be something along the lines of “we don’t hire felons”.  This is a stark example and there are many gray areas that could get employers in trouble.
    2. Even though the EEOC has, to date, not been successful in lawsuits filed against employers who treat all types of crimes the same for a given position, this portion of the guide clearly demonstrates that they have no intention of slowing down on their position of disparate impact.  One could surmise that they probably have no intention of slowing down on the lawsuit front.

Even if the employer treats you the same as everyone else, using background information still can be illegal discrimination. For example, employers shouldn’t use a policy or practice that excludes people with certain criminal records if it significantly disadvantages individuals of a particular race, national origin, or another protected characteristic, and doesn’t accurately predict who will be a responsible, reliable, or safe employee. In legal terms, the policy or practice has a “disparate impact” and is not “job related and consistent with business necessity.”

Employers should note that even if your policy is seemingly nondiscriminatory and treats all applicants the same, the EEOC may not necessarily see it that way.  Recent actions of the EEOC have been highly criticized by employer groups, governmental agencies, state attorney’s general and legislators.  As a result, employers should be aware and carefully review their policies and hiring practices with legal counsel.

For more information on this or any workforce screening topic, please contact our office at info@credentialcheck.com or (888) 689.2000.

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Nov 11 14

Publix to Pay $6.8 Million to Job Applicants in Most Recent Background Screening Class Action

by Ryan Cowsert
gavel-and-money

Super market store Publix has settled a class action lawsuit and is scheduled to pay $6.8 million to former job applicants. The lawsuit alleges that Lakeland-based Publix violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by not fulfilling the legally required disclosures in order to process background checks on job applicants.

Publix has denied any wrongdoing and issued a statement that it agreed to the settlement “because of the substantial expense of litigation… and the disruption to its business operations,” according to documents filed in conjunction with this matter. The settlement class includes over 90,000 applicants which will each receive approximately $48 after lawyers’ expenses.

The settlement includes candidates that applied for work at Publix and were subjected to a background check between March of 2012 and May of 2014. The lead plaintiff, Erin Knights, applied for a job with Publix in early 2013 through a kiosk inside a store in Tennessee. The process included an authorization for a background check but it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by not providing the disclosure in a separate document that consisted only of the disclosure.

Non-compliant disclosure and authorization forms have consistently made our list of top areas of employer non-compliance and have been the subject of several lawsuits.  This often overlooked aspect of the hiring process can be a slippery slope for companies regardless of whether they have a paper or electronic hiring process.  Employers of any size are strongly encouraged to review their application process and ensure there is a distinct separation between the application of employment and background screening disclosure forms.

If you have any doubts about your compliance, CredentialCheck offers a free compliance review for disclosure and authorization forms.  For questions on this or any or any other background screening related questions, please feel free to contact us at 888-689-2000 or info@credentialcheck.com.

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Nov 5 14

An Uber Debate on the Regulation of Private Ridesharing Companies

by Dawn Standerwick
rideshare

Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have been sprouting up in metropolitan areas sparking much debate about the lack of regulation for these companies.  One aspect of the debate is centered around the background screening and drug testing of drivers as well as whether they are subject to any other requirements such as insurance minimums.

A new bill passed by the Council in Washington DC will likely be the first of many across the country to address the growing concern of public protection with private “for hire” transportation.  To some extent the bill presents an ‘ask’ of these companies to adopt self-regulating stances on certain issues.  The bill does impose new commercial insurance requirements on private vehicles, requires a 7 year criminal background check, a check of any sexual offenses and a driving history.  It also requests that they adopt a zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol, display some identifying banner or decal and allow access to investigate illegal conduct.  Part of the controversy is that these drivers are not subjected to the same requirements as a taxi company or their drivers.  Many feel the bill doesn’t go far enough or impose regulations that would adequately protect the public.

Companies like Uber are celebrating the passage of the bill because they feel that this bill has largely preserved their ability to do business in the current capacity without some of the regulation required by other types of “for hire” transportation, such as taxi cabs.

The Taxicab Commission has opposed this legislation and stated that “The bill deprives the Commission of the basic tools it needs to hold companies and drivers accountable for violations of basic safety standards and consumer protections”.

If you hire a personal vehicle to take you to a destination, would you expect the company to have done some due diligence in having their drivers background checked?  Would you expect that some minimum standards of insurance are in place in the event of an accident that was or was not the fault of the driver?  As a result of recent media attention, many of these companies claim to have adopted a background screening program that better meets expectations but have been slow to provide full details.  This could become another Ban the Box type issue where we see each city or state impose its own set of requirements that could make compliance a patch work nightmare of differing laws.

If you have any questions on this or any other topic, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or info@credentialcheck.com.

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Oct 29 14

“Michigan Appeals Court Ruling on Medical Marijuana Effects Unemployment Claims”

by Ken Lang
Picture1

 

This new ruling states that if an employee gets fired only for using medical marijuana then they qualify for unemployment benefits.  In essence, if you smoked marijuana under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and get fired for violating the company’s drug testing policy, you can collect unemployment until you find a new job.

 

The Michigan Attorney General’s office argued that the state law would protect a user of medical marijuana from being criminally prosecuted does not apply to civil disputes including state unemployment.  The court disagrees.  This does not mean that employers must change or stop enforcement of their drug free workplace policies,  however, if an employee is terminated, they will retain the right to collect unemployment.

 

This is great example of why it is so important for the HR professional to stay on top of the legislative impact on key policies such as unemployment and drug-free workplace policies.  Employers can still have Drug-free workplace policies and employees can still be fired for violating those policies.  We just need to realize that if the reason is smoking medical marijuana, it is now not a cause to deny unemployment.

 

For more questions on this topic, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or info@credentialcheck.com.

 

 

 

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Oct 22 14

NAPBS Annual Conference Sessions Drive Home Importance of Compliance

by Business Development

The National Association of Professional Background Screeners hosted their 2014 Annual Conference earlier this week.  The conference had over 640 attendees and a sold out exhibit floor with 45 exhibitors.

The conference was an enormous success and offered a multitude of educational sessions.  The event was kicked off with key note speaker Shannon Miller, the most decorated gymnast in American history.  She delivered a motivational message underscoring the inevitable success that perseverance, dedication and passion bring.

Many speakers emphasized the importance of compliance and due diligence, which, for Consumer Reporting Agencies and employers includes a multitude of areas where compliant practices are of critical importance.  The knowledge we gain from this conference is one resource we count on to better assist our clients in navigating the complex regulatory landscape.  The sessions were informative and the speakers presented on an array of topics from FCRA, to substance abuse testing, to I-9 E-Verify to EEOC and Title VII.

Overall, the conference provided valuable insight into legislative and regulatory activities and provided an excellent opportunity to network with our fellow CRAs.  Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we share information from the conference on these topics.

For more information on this or any topic, please contact our offices at (888) 689.2000 or info@credentialcheck.com.

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Oct 15 14

Is Your Background Screening Firm in the Loop?

by Dawn Standerwick
Due Diligence

Later this week, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) will host its annual conference in Denver, Colorado.   This organization’s success is particularly near and dear to us at Credential Check because we are a proud founding member with employees currently serving in leadership positions.  Throughout the tenure of this organization’s existence, Credential Check has been an active supporter and participant in carrying forward the mission of NAPBS.

NAPBS was formed by background screening companies in 2003 to promote ethical business practices and compliance with state and federal laws by Consumer Reporting Agencies (background screening companies) as well as to foster awareness regarding consumer protection and privacy rights.   What started out as a US based group has grown well beyond the borders of the United States now with established international chapters including Asia Pacific Rim Countries (APAC), Canada and Europe.  NAPBS has an accreditation program and those accredited companies have well demonstrated their commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement.

When selecting a professional screening firm it is vital that employers carefully evaluate their choice in a partner.  Class action lawsuits against employers related to their screening processes have become a trend (think about that for a moment – lawsuits for non-compliance have become a TREND).  With the proliferation of state, county and even municipal laws, the employer/screening firm partnership has become even more critical.  NAPBS members work to strengthen standards to be proactive in their awareness of legislative and compliance requirements that affect them as consumer reporting agencies as well as their employer clients.  Based on the countless legislative and public policy initiatives, education, meetings with key government agencies, conference sessions and best practice awareness, it is easy to see how a screening firm not associated with NAPBS could easily be out of the loop, putting all stakeholders at risk.

We embrace what NAPBS stands for and applaud the efforts of many who have strengthened our profession in countless ways by volunteering their time for the benefit of all companies.   Many businesses are safer as a result of the services provided by professional screening firms and to have a hand in the collective success of developing higher standards has been nothing short of inspiring.  We take pride in the time and effort we have contributed to this organization and to our profession.

It is our pleasure as a company to continue to support NAPBS and view our participation and membership as a value to our clients.

For more information about Credential Check or NAPBS, please feel free to contact us with any questions at (888) 689.2000 or info@credentialchecheck.com.

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Oct 7 14

2014 Michigan SHRM Conference – HR Amplified, Driven to Be…

by Ryan Cowsert
2014-confguide

October proves to be an exciting time each year as the local HR community gears up for the Michigan Society of Human Resource Management’s (MI SHRM) annual conference. The conference is October 8th-10th, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan at the NEW COBO Center.

CredentialCheck® is very excited to be exhibiting! So, why should you be excited? With over 900 attendees, you’ll hear great speakers, earn recertification credits, learn and improve your professional skills, network, see exhibitor presentations and have fun! This conference offers something for HR professionals at all levels!

This conference provides CredentialCheck® with the unique opportunity to greet existing clients in person and to demonstrate our exceptional service and technology offerings to new clients.

In between the great keynotes scheduled, and fun evening events, we hope you’ll stop by our booth #317 and say hello!

For more information on this event or any topic, please contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or info@credentialcheck.com

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Oct 1 14

Maximum Possible Accuracy – Are You At Risk?

by Ken Lang

If you conduct a background check on a prospective employee, one very important aspect of compliance to be aware of is the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s (FCRA) concept of “Maximum Possible Accuracy”.  Whenever a consumer reporting agency prepares a consumer report, it is required to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual.  Unfortunately, this question of “maximum possible accuracy” is not specifically defined and it tends to be settled in court.

Does an inexpensive database search provide maximum possible accuracy?

We continue to run into companies that use vendors that run only database searches and provide them at a very low cost.  These databases can be of value from a national perspective in casting a wider net but they also do not contain all jurisdictions which means they are by no means comprehensive and may not be updated consistently across the board.  You have to question that by using and not verifying these sources whether you are hiring someone who could be a danger to your customers and employees or a financial risk to your business not to mention inviting additional liability.  If you do get a hit against a database to ensure maximum possible accuracy the vendor must review the county court records (originating source of the record) to validate the finding.

Are you being supplied data that you can legally use?

Some background screening firms provide data that is taken out of context, irrelevant for the purpose, or that is simply reported because it was supplied by the source of the data.

What to do?

  1. If your price from your screening firm seems too good to be true,
    question the data sources, how often they are updated and the accuracy of the data.
  2. Know and approve the sources of the information your screening firm is providing to you.  Understand how often the various sources of data are updated.
  3. Select a vendor that is a member of the Concerned CRAs, they will ensure that if a hit on a database is encountered that the actual court records are pulled to maintain maximum possible accuracy.
  4. Look for a screening firm that has a structured review process in place to ensure data quality and reduce the likelihood that the information being received can legally be used for hiring purposes.
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Sep 24 14

Employers Underestimate Risk Posed by Their Extended Workforces

by Dawn Standerwick
Workforce

What exactly constitutes an extended workforce?  An organization’s extended workforce includes contractors (temporary employees), volunteers, trainees, students and other persons who enter the workplace and perform duties.  For many companies, this intricate people web is one that delivers a number of benefits, but, many don’t realize that it also introduces significant risk if not managed properly.

Employers give careful consideration to the screening of their employees and for good reason.  They contemplate negligent hiring, the position, related job duties, legal requirements and elements that should be part of the background check as well as disqualifying factors.

  • Do any of your extended workforce personnel have access sensitive areas within your company?
  • Are they ever without direct visual supervision or come in contact with the public?  Other employees?
  • Do they have any decision making latitude or access to financial instruments? Intellectual property?

Shouldn’t their background check meet the same standard as your employees?  The bottom line goal of any screening program is to minimize risk for negligent hiring, ensure the safety of the workplace, customers and public as well as to comply with the law.  It is not disputed that companies that fail to conduct a proper background check expose themselves to significant liability.  Many companies underestimate that this is also true when it comes to their extended workforce.

An extended workforce may include temporary workers that come from a staffing firm, suppliers who perform work onsite as well as other types of sub-contractors.   Why would an organization with stringent requirements for their own employees not hold other onsite workers to the same standards?  I submit that many perceive the responsibility and liability to be on the staffing firm or the sub-contractor’s business while others simply find it a daunting task to manage such a program with proper oversight.   This perception of narrow liability and difficulty, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Employers should be aware that liability is likely for the majority of scenarios where criminal acts are carried out by members of their extended onsite workforces, particularly if an individual has a prior history of the behavior.  Case law in this area supports that employers have a duty to ensure a comprehensive background check has been conducted and in some cases may be considered as a co-employer.  In a co-employment context, the employer and the vendor’s firm share many of the same employment risks and responsibilities, which translates to liability for a deficient background check.

We educate our clients in this area and counsel them that they must go further than simply having a screening policy for their extended workforces.   They must ensure that those standards are being met and met consistently.  We recognize that without the proper tools, it can be difficult for companies to facilitate the oversight and management necessary to achieve this end goal.   The risk posed by a company’s workforce is certain, but, the difficulty in managing compliance doesn’t have to be.

CredentialCheck®’s CC-Verify solution has the ability to simplify, automate and manage all levels of vendor compliance for screening and training functions.   CC-Verify is a robust technology that enables companies to be certain their staff, suppliers and sub-contractors all meet required compliance objectives on an ongoing basis.  Multiple tiers of companies can be registered with automated indicators as to which employees have met the principal company’s background screening and training standards for a given time frame.   The solution is vendor neutral meaning that more than one background screening firm can be approved by the top level organization for use by sub-contractors and vendors.  CC-Verify is a complete lifecycle vendor compliance management solution that is instrumental in keeping workplaces safe all the way through the extended workforce and beyond.

For more information about Credential Check’s CC-Verify solution or to request a demonstration, please contact us at (888) 689.2000 or info@credentialcheck.com.

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