Having a workforce screening program in place is commonplace for the majority of companies. There is a distinct realization as to the legal implications that not having a program in place creates as well as the value it brings to the organization overall. One area that is often missed within a comprehensive screening policy is the inclusion some type of ongoing monitoring or periodic screening process.
In order to achieve the goals of a company’s screening program, the background check or drug test is often not just a one-time review.
Could companies have liability for crimes that their employees commit if they have a documented history of that behavior post hire? The answer is absolutely. Conducting a background check to proactively mitigate risk against negligent hiring claims is the basis of most programs and historically for many companies was just a one-time check into a prospective employee’s history. Many organizations recognize the critical importance that an ongoing review has within their policy, not only to mitigate risk, but also to ensure that the essence of their workforce screening policy continues to be upheld.
There are many types of annual, semi-annual or periodic programs available that can assist companies to economically achieve their screening goals on an ongoing basis. Depending upon the duties of each position, the type of checks may differ and, for some, may be more critical to conduct. For instance, companies that have drivers (non-DOT) may consider reviewing each driver’s history annually. If substance abuse testing is part of the pre-employment screening process, does the organization have a random, post-accident and reasonable suspicion program as part of their policy? Many states offer incentives for having a drug free workplace policy in place and participants enjoy reduced workers’ compensation rates and reduced awards for individuals who test positive post-accident.
Companies whose employees have a high degree of interaction with vulnerable populations or that have employees working in home or public environments where there is little to no supervision, should certainly consider implementing an ongoing monitoring program.
Companies with ongoing programs demonstrate that they take active interest in the safety of those individuals with whom their employees come in to contact with, even if just within their own organization.
The cost of not having an ongoing screening program in place has the potential of far exceeding any time or money spent on ensuring that a company’s standards for their workforce continue to be met.
I was reading a recent news article from the LA Times which reported that the LA County Sheriff’s Department recently admitted to hiring roughly 280 officers with troubled, and in some cases, criminal pasts. The agents hired had documented issues from unnecessary force to dishonesty, to lying on polygraph exams and hiring prostitutes, yet, the hiring managers still hired these individuals.
The number of companies who don’t perform a pre-employment background check is dwindling. The majority of companies engage with a professional screening firm to manage these programs for a number of reasons. With 2013 coming to a close, it is a time that many companies take time to review their current programs and set their sights on changes for the New Year.
Below I’ve outlined a few key areas to consider as you review your current program and screening partner:
- Compliance: ensure the company strictly follows the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and has the ability to assist you in remaining compliant. We saw lawsuits against employers and screening firms for sub-standard practices. Some of these, the employer had outsourced processes to their background screening company to manage and they weren’t compliant.
- Technology: This could be a make or break for all sizes of organizations. If the technology isn’t user friendly, keep looking! Many screening firms are integrated with popular Applicant Tracking, e-learning/e-training and payroll providers. Significant efficiencies can be gained by using an integrated company, but, don’t think that just because they are integrated that they are a good fit for your company. You can and should be selective.
- Off-Shoring: Ask if your screening company sends any part of its operations overseas or if candidate data is accessed on US servers from abroad. The potential liability created for companies and the trauma it could cause a candidate is immeasurable. Many companies do not find it fits with their company culture to put their candidates and employees at risk for identity theft.
- Service Offering: Many companies want a single source provider for all workforce screening programs. This is great in theory and there are many firms that offer drug testing, occupational health screening (physicals and breath alcohol testing), assessments etc. It is important to make sure they have the knowledge and experience to capably manage all facets of your programs.
Credential Check has a patented process for evaluating your screening program to ensure it meets your intended goals. For more information or assistance in examining your screening program, please contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A background screening entity has settled class action lawsuits totaling $18 million dollars. The allegation is that it failed to ensure that the reports it sold to employers met the “maximum possible accuracy” requirement under the law (FCRA).
It is 100% the fault of the background screening company if their work product did not observe the ‘maximum possible accuracy’ standard. I submit that the market also shares some culpability as all too often we see employers demand information from their screening firm that does not meet a suitable standard.
As an industry professional with 22 years of experience in the screening profession, I can tell you that often the market (employer) demands that information be provided as quickly and cheaply as possible. This is part of the problem. Many screening professionals lament that our services have become a commodity where the cheapest price wins the business. Where there is a demand, someone in the market will bend to supply it and often that is raw database information that has not been properly reviewed and verified.
This is a perfect case in point to illustrate that “cheap” is not the route employers should take with something as important as their workforce screening program. Companies must realize that to provide a safe work environment for their employees and the public and to minimize negligent hiring risks, it is not about simply saying they performed a background check. It is imperative that the background check was conducted according to best practices, is compliant and was properly reviewed for accuracy. Employers must construct a program with careful consideration given as to the impact upon the candidate and create a program where ethical processes and high standards are vital components. A sub-standard program hurts the candidate, the employer and the screening profession at large.
Many companies in our profession believe that it is inappropriate to report information that comes from a data broker database that has not been verified with the originating source of the information (I.e. the court). These are often called a “national” criminal search which implies that it is a comprehensive search. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Information maintained by data brokers can be inaccurate for a variety of reasons. To achieve the ‘maximum possible accuracy’ standard under the law, we do not pass this un-vetted data along to our clients, even if they ask us to.
Does it take more time to verify the information? Yes, but not a lot. Is it more expensive to do it the right way? Yes, but not a lot. This is the way with most things in life. There are things that may well be worth the gamble, but, others that are clearly not worth risking. I have been known to point out that the savings between doing it the wrong way and doing it right is usually a fraction of what one hour’s time with an attorney would cost. In these cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees will be paid which hopefully underscores that it is not worth saving a few bucks given the likely outcome of getting sued. Not to mention that people can be hurt. Lives can be ruined and honest, hardworking people can be adversely affected by a sub-standard background check.
For more information about this topic or Credential Check’s services, please contact us at (888) 689.2000 or email@example.com.
The name to our Blog is “HR Solutions”. On this Veteran’s Day I would like to ask our HR associates to be the Solution for our Veterans. These brave and patriotic men and women have served our country so that we may continue to enjoy the life we have. Their sacrifices provide us with the Freedom we wake up with every morning. Some of you are also Veterans and can truly appreciate what our men and women have had to endure.
Our Veteran’s are experiencing one of the Highest levels of Unemployment in the history of our country as they are returning home from active duty. They are qualified and trained individuals with tremendous skill sets, however, they are being over looked due to Not having the “Civilian” world’s certifications that some HR Departments are requiring. Their resumes are not even being chosen due to this issue.
Below is a quote from an article that appeared in “The Blaze” regarding one Veteran’s search for employment:
“My struggle was not as tough as some,” Tulloch told The Blaze. “The Marine Corps trained me but I didn’t have the certification the HR people are looking for.”
It’s time for us to be pro-active and assist our returning men and women in this transition back into the work force. Are you participating in a Veteran Career Fair? Do you have a “hire a Veteran” program within your organization? What can you and your communities do to help our Veterans find employment?
This Veteran’s day, please show our Veteran’s that you care. It’s not just another day off from School or from Work. It’s a day to show respect and Honor to those that serve our great country.
It’s time to Hire our Heroes and show them that we care.
Credential Check is pleased to host a networking event in Tampa on Tuesday, November 5thfrom 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Maestro’s on the River (right next to the Straz Center) for an evening of networking, food and fun!
The venue is a perfect setting to welcome members of the local HR community (HR Tampa & Suncoast HR) and local business owners.
We will have a special guest, Charles Klug, Director of the Port Authority, who will speak briefly regarding recent newsworthy topics in Channelside at 6:30 pm.
The event is sure to be a great time and offer a great opportunity to network. The event is being hosted by Fisher & Phillips, Sentinel Screening, Credential Check, Oasis Outsourcing and PNC Bank. The event is free to attend and hors d’ oeuvres and drinks will be served.
Please join us for a night of food, fun and networking! To RSVP, click here.
Recently I was at an HR Tampa event where they were having a Mock Trial regarding a Whistle Blower case. When I saw this article regarding the outcome of a local case, I felt compelled to share it with you.
A U.S. district court has awarded a school employee $175,000 in back wages and punitive damages in a whistle-blower lawsuit.
A trial by an eight-member jury in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, determined that Renaissance Arts and Education Inc. (doing business as Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto) and its principal, Bill Jones, violated the whistle-blower-protection provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act when the charter school terminated David Shack after he warned about safety hazards.
The school has filed an appeal.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sued the school in March 2012 for its wrongful termination of Shack, who warned the school that there were electrical safety violations in the school’s theater.
“This is a groundbreaking decision made by the people against the unlawful termination, with malice, of an employee for raising concerns about a potential electrical-fire hazard in the large theater,” said Teresa A. Harrison, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Atlanta. “The department is pleased with the jury’s verdict and hopes that this decision reminds employers that America’s workers have the right to raise safety concerns in the workplace without fear of retaliation.”
Shack submitted a letter to his direct supervisor on June 20, 2009, in which he stated that improperly placed extension cords above the theater’s sprinkler system posed a fire hazard. When the school did not respond, he filed a complaint with the Manatee County School Board and OSHA on July 10. He was terminated July 30.
On Aug. 4, OSHA performed a safety inspection and cited the school for safety violations related to Shack’s expressed concerns.
“You always hear people ask, ‘Why didn’t you say or do something?’ when something is found,” Shack told The Bradenton Times. “In this case, I did do something. I wasn’t satisfied with the way it was handled, so I sent it to OSHA and OSHA supported my concerns.”
OSHA enforces the whistle-blower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of securities, trucking, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, rail, maritime, health care, consumer-product and food-safety laws.
I have been with Credential Check Corporation for a few years now and have had the opportunity to meet and interact with companies throughout the U.S. regarding their screening programs, and one common question always arises no matter the organization; are you happy with your current solution? The answers can vary from yes to no and why this or that, however I did receive an answer this past week that was kind of an eye opener for me. The HR Director for this particular organization stated that since “we haven’t had any horrific incidents or anyone getting hurt that our program must be working.”
The scary part about this story is that he was serious, the company honestly believed that the program they had in place was working due to a lack of injured employees. This got me thinking about how companies like Credential Check or any other third party firm are measured for their successfulness. Apart from that rare occurrence let’s talk about some of the common items companies are typically happy or unhappy with when it comes to their screening program:
- Turnaround Time
How fast can you have this back to me? This question seems to be number one when a company is evaluating its current screening program. The turnaround time of a completed background check is considered to be a great benchmark for vendors. A close second would be the cost. We all know that the game of business is numbers and that companies want the biggest bang for their buck, thus companies constantly evaluate their vendor based solely on the pricing of the services, which is probably the most dangerous way to choose a vendor. When it comes to background checks the phrase “you get what you pay for” really exists. Last but not least is the Ease-of-Use, how does the candidate’s information get into the system and how can I access it? These questions are great from the functionality standpoint but if the services being performed are sub-par those bells and whistles don’t mean a thing.
Obviously the best vendor is the one who can provide a solution for each of these areas and thus my challenge for you. Reach out to your current provider, work through your services, your costs, your turnaround time, learn more about what you have available for you and what you would like to improve on, and last but not least don’t settle. The success of your program isn’t measured by the number of incidents you haven’t had but by ones you have prevented.
Credential Check Corporation
We are happy to report that E-Verify has resumed operations following the federal government shutdown. All E-Verify features and services are now available.
The following information has been supplied by USCIS to address questions as to how the federal government’s shutdown affected E-Verify and Form I-9.
Information for Employers
The Form I-9 requirements were not affected during the federal government shutdown. All employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for every person hired to work for pay in the United States during the shutdown.
Employees who received a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC)
If an employee had a TNC referred between September 17, 2013 and September 30, 2013 and was not able to resolve the TNC due to the federal government shutdown, add 12 federal business days to the date printed on the ‘Referral Letter’ or ‘Referral Date Confirmation.’ Employees have until this new date to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to resolve their cases. If you have an employee who decided to contest his or her TNC while E-Verify was unavailable, you should now initiate the referral process in E-Verify. Employers may not take any adverse action against an employee because of a TNC.
Employees who received a SSA Final Nonconfirmation (FNC) or DHS No Show result
If an employee received a Final Nonconfirmation (FNC) or No Show because of the federal government shutdown, please close the case and select “The employee continues to work for the employer after receiving a Final Nonconfirmation result,” or “The employee continues to work for the employer after receiving a No Show result.” The employer must then enter a new case in E-Verify for that employee. These steps are necessary to ensure the employee is afforded the opportunity to timely contest and resolve the Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) that led to the FNC result.
Creating Cases: Three-Day Rule
You must create an E-Verify case for each employee hired during or otherwise affected by the shutdown by November 5, 2013. If you are prompted to provide a reason why the case is late (i.e., does not conform to the three-day rule), select ‘Other’ from the drop-down list of reasons and enter ‘federal government shutdown’ in the field.
Federal Contractor Deadlines
During the federal government shutdown, federal contractors could not enroll or use E-Verify as required by the federal contractor rule. If your organization missed a deadline because E-Verify was unavailable or if it has an upcoming deadline for complying with the federal contractor rule, please follow the instructions above and notify your contracting officer of these instructions.
Information for Employees
If the federal government shutdown prevented you from contesting a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC), you will be allowed additional time to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) or Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If your TNC was referred between September 17, 2013 and September 30, 2013, and you were not able to resolve the mismatch due to the federal government shutdown, you should:
- Add 12 federal business days to the date printed on the ‘Referral Letter’ or ‘Referral Date Confirmation’ that your employer provided you after you contested the TNC. Federal business days are Monday through Friday and do not include federal holidays.
- Contact SSA or DHS by the new date to resolve your TNC.
If you received a Final Non-Confirmation (FNC) because you could not contact DHS or SSA during the federal government shutdown, or because you could not contact DHS or SSA in the first ten days after the government reopened, please contact your employer and request that the employer re-enter your query. For more information about contesting your TNC or FNC, please refer to Employee section of the E-Verify website.
Expect that E-Verify Customer Support will experience an increase in requests for assistance. Due to this increase, customers may experience longer than normal delays and response times. Employers and employees may also contact E-Verify at 888-464-4218. Customer Support representatives are available Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm local time.
If you are a Credential Check client and you have questions or need additional information, please contact us at 888.689.2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you access E-Verify directly, you can email E-Verify directly at E-Verify@dhs.gov and if you work with a designated agent, they are the recommended point of contact to avoid servicing delays.
Credential Check is exhibiting at the Pittsburgh Human Resources Association (SHRM) Conference: HR Strategies for Success this week which is celebrating its 65th Anniversary.
The conference kicks off on October 15 and runs through October 16th with a great line up of speakers including our own Michael Pachuta.
We invite you to stop in and visit our booth and catch Michael’s presentation today at 12:55 pm.
‘Ban the Box’ legislation continues to be a hot topic of conversation for employers due to the scope and dizzying adoption rate of varying flavors of this legislation.
What is Ban the Box? Ban the Box refers to prohibiting inquiries on an application for employment into prior arrests or criminal convictions (I.e. “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” or “Have you ever been arrested?”). Municipalities and states that have adopted this legislation seek to remove barriers to employment for those individuals who have a criminal record. These types of laws seek to give individuals with a criminal history the best chance possible of attaining gainful employment.
The idea is not necessarily to discourage a criminal background check, though, many groups pushing Ban the Box legislation take an oppositional stance on background screening in general. Still, the perceived intention is to have a candidate progress through the hiring process strictly on their merit prior to the topic of one’s criminal past coming into play; which is believed should occur later in the process.
The EEOC’s Revised Guidance on the Use of Criminal Records in the hiring process supports the spirit of Ban the Box and provides that employers must first consider the gravity or severity of the crime, the time since the crime occurred and how it relates to the job being sought. If an employer disqualifies a candidate solely because they indicated that they have a criminal history on their application, chances are they did not properly weigh these factors and perhaps wouldn’t have enough information to fairly do so. I won’t discuss the individualized assessment here, which takes the weighing of factors to an entirely new level.
The State of California is the most recent to adopt legislation that prohibits a prospective employer’s inquiry into criminal history information. Assembly Bill 218 (AB218) extends that prohibition to local and state governments with just a few exceptions — law enforcement, jobs that entail working with vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly or disabled among others of a sensitive nature.
Ban the Box legislation has been adopted by 9 states and over 51 municipalities and counties in 23 states across the nation. Employers are urged to review their policies if an inquiry into an applicant’s criminal history is made on the application, particularly if located in an area where this practice may now be illegal.
For more information about this or other municipalities who have adopted similar legislation, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or email@example.com.