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Dec 30 14

2014 The Year of Culture

by Ryan Cowsert
top10_woty2014_culture

Over the past year I’m sure like me, many of you have attended webinars or events all focused on Culture. What is it? How do you define it? How do you create it? Why do some have it and some don’t? All great questions and it’s the big reason why culture has been named word of the year for 2014 by Merriam-Webster.

Merriam-Webster defines culture as the “beliefs, customs, arts etc. of a particular society, group, place or time.”  Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster explained it best during a recent interview with the Huffington Post when he referenced the book “How Google Works”, which includes a description of a software fix by a few engineers that made ads more relevant on the search engine:

“It wasn’t Google’s culture that turned those five engineers into problem-solving ninjas who changed the course of the company over the weekend; rather it was the culture that attracted the ninjas to the company in the first place.” I believe this is a great quote for many reasons, especially for HR professionals. As companies continue to grow, you need to realize that companies that are busting at the seams with great culture are attracting great talent.

Hopefully 2014 was a successful year for the organizations you represent and also personally. I feel that we can learn a lot from all the emphasis that has been placed on culture this past year and carry that into 2015.

Runner-up Words:

2. Nostalgia

3. Insidious

4. Legacy

5. Feminism

For more on Culture or to further discuss how Credential Check can assist with your screening program, please contact our office at 888-689-2000, or reach us by email at info@credentialcheck.com.

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Dec 24 14

Holiday Statistics!

by Business Development
Happy Holidays

According to Gallup, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are the two happiest days of the year for Americans.  Since Christmas is upon us,
according to a Pew Research Center 2014 survey: http://pewrsr.ch/1zXWvfD

“What people look forward to most during Christmas” is:

  1. Spending time with family (75%)
  2. Eating holiday foods (60%)
  3. Hearing Christmas music in public places (45%)
  4. Exchanging gifts (45%)
  5. Decorating their homes (44%)
  6. Attending religious services (44%)

The 3 items least liked according to a Pew Research survey conducted last year (not included in this year’s survey) http://pewrsr.ch/1xbQ8n6:

  1. Commercialism/materialism (33%)
  2. Money/too expensive (22%)
  3. Shopping/crowds/crowded stores (10%)

86% of American’s purchase gifts, 1% mention shopping as what they look forward to most.

With this in mind, take a deep breath, enjoy the season, with whatever traditions you enjoy.  All of us at Credential Check wish you a wonderful holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate!

 

 

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Dec 17 14

Employers: It’s a Great Time to Review Your Background Screening Program

by Business Development
2014-2015

As we wind down the year, many companies take time to reflect on the year gone by and plan for the year ahead.  It’s a fantastic time to review your company’s workforce screening program before we head into the New Year.  In looking back at 2014 and considering the workforce screening landscape, we have seen a lot of activity and many recurring areas of non-compliance that resulted in lawsuits against employers.

Below are some of the Top Areas of Employer Non-Compliance that made our list for 2014.   Employers should take particular care in reviewing their program and policies and also ensure that it has undergone a review by legal counsel.

FCRA Violations

Disclosure and Authorization Form

This document must be separate from the application in a document or format that consists solely of the disclosure that a background check will be conducted along with the reason.  In addition to the federal requirements, there are several states that have their own specific mandates.

Adverse Action

The FCRA outlines a two-step process which includes required disclosures must be sent (with the copy of the report) in advance of an adverse decision being made and a follow up disclosure post decision if no claim of inaccuracy is made to close the loop on the process.  The Federal Trade Commission has opined that employers can outsource this process to their background screening partner.

Ban the Box

‘Ban the Box’ legislation continues to be a hot topic of conversation for employers due to the rapid fire adoption rate of varying flavors of this legislation across the country.   Ban the Box refers to the box on the application that inquires into a person’s criminal history.  It may say ‘Have you ever been arrested?’ or ‘Have you ever been convicted of a crime’.  The underlying goal of ban the box legislation is to eliminate that question on the employment application.  The concern for employers is the patchwork of differing requirements across the country which makes compliance a challenge.

Blanket Policy

Employers with practices that automatically exclude candidates from consideration just for having a criminal history are at odds with the EEOCs guidance and current civil right laws.   For example, companies that proclaim “We don’t hire felons” could come under the radar of the EEOC.  In light of the EEOC’s guidance and their enforcement agenda, it is more important than ever to have a policy that details the workforce screening program by position and specifically details what type of convictions are disqualifiers.

Consumer Credit Reports in Hiring Decisions

The use of credit reports in hiring decisions has heated up given the state of the economy in recent years.   A number of states currently prohibit the use of credit reports in hiring decisions – with limited exceptions.  There has also been additional state and federal bill activity on the topic, which if passed could greatly limit employer’s ability to use a credit report as part of their hiring decision.

Form I-9

Many companies have multiple company representatives overseeing the completion of the Form I-9 and not all may be doing it consistently.  There are over 150 possible errors that can be made on this form and each is a finable action.  Many companies underestimate the potential outcomes for non-compliance.  To ensure consistency and that every field is completed, we’ve seen  many companies moving to an electronic Form I-9 solution that has error checking built in and can provide notifications when an employee’s work eligibility is going to change.

Misuse of E-Verify

E-Verify is a post hire process and information submitted should be obtained from information provided on the Form I-9 by the employee.  E-Verify is not to be used as a pre-screening tool to determine if an employee is eligible to work in the US or if their SSN matches the name they provided.  There are alternative identification products that can legally be used pre-hire.

Protect yourself as we head into the New Year by giving your policy the review it deserves.   At the rate we are seeing lawsuits being filed, the alternative is simply not a wise or inexpensive option.

If your organization has 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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Dec 4 14

Tis the Season : Fast Paced Hiring for Retail

by Ryan Cowsert
iStock_000022328217Small

November and December are typically boom or bust for retailers. When it comes to the holiday season, the urgency to hire new talent and get them trained before putting them in front of customers is at an all-time high. With the addition of seasonal workers, HR Managers in the retail setting often find themselves cutting corners within their hiring process to ensure the stores are prepared for the rush. Below we have provided a few items for retailers to consider leading up to the holiday crunch!

  • Online Systems – If your organization is still using the paper/pen method for applications, you’re behind the curve and need to understand that in order to move your hiring process along in a timely manner, the best place to start is automating your application. This is also a great place for you to post your most up to date job descriptions for which the positions you are hiring. This should help eliminate some of the candidates that feel they are interested but don’t know the fully story behind the role being offered. There are several companies that provide these services at a very reasonable cost.
  • Screening – Background screening is often viewed as a step that delays seasonal employees from starting, however that’s not always the case. Certain providers, such as CredentialCheck™ offer services focused on retail that can be completed within 24-48 hours.
  • Training – Training isn’t just prices and descriptions of your products, it’s far more in-depth than that. Create a training guide (if you don’t have one already for permanent staff) that will allow the employee to have a good understanding of your business and how their role affects the operation. This is a great time to review your key corporate policies and offerings as seasonal employees are eligible for the same rights as nonseasonal employees.
  • Handbook - All seasonal employees should be given a copy of your employee handbook and be required to sign a written acknowledgment confirming receipt of the handbook. Again, although their employment may be brief, they should still be aware of your expectations, particularly relating to discrimination and harassment. Again, requiring that all employees acknowledge receipt of the handbook at the initial point of hire ensures that these individuals will not fall through the cracks if they are converted to regular employees at the end of the holiday season.

During these busy months, it’s important to solidify your internal processes and make sure that each step is followed as in most cases, the ones you skip will be the ones that make you trip as an organization.

For more information on seasonal employees or other HR topics, contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or info@credentialcheck.com

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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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