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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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May 6 14

Drafting Your Team

by Ryan Cowsert
2007 NFL Draft - April 28, 2007

This past weekend I had the opportunity to see the movie Draft Day and with the real NFL draft being only days away I thought this might be a great time to evaluate what the draft means and how this can relate to your organization.

Like all successful teams, having an understanding of what you currently have on your roster and the productivity available is crucial when it comes to drafting. Much like an annual review, coaches or managers need to evaluate what their team accomplished last year and where there were short-comings. These short-comings will be the area they look to improve through the draft or through hiring.

Once you have established the wants and needs of your organization, you’re ready to examine the free agents or talent available. This is a critical stage and where egos can get in the way of making the best decision for your team. I remember in the movie the owner of the Cleveland Browns, wanted to draft the unanimous number #1 pick, simply because of his accomplishments on the field without evaluating the character of the player and the impact this playing would have on the existing team. Minutes before the Browns selection during the draft the general manager called this player and asked him one question: “Did your teammates come to your birthday party?” The answer was no, and caused the team to go in a different direction with their #1 pick.

At the end of the day HR Professionals go through these same stages. Evaluating their staff, looking for improvements, determining which talent could best assist the organization and last but not least are they a team player or are they out for themselves.

To make your number one pick or any questions HR related, please contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or info@credentialcheck.com

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Apr 30 14

Work Life Balance – Taking Pleasure in the Little Things

by Ken Lang

Work Life Balance – Taking Pleasure in the Little Things

Memorial Day is just around the corner and it is a good time to think about enjoying the simple things in life as the weather brightens. Our Blogs usually focus on topics that are relevant to your role as someone who is responsible for hiring, mitigating risk and ensuring compliance. All very serious subjects and we have built our business around helping you manage them as effectively as possible. Still, we all need to take time to recharge and refresh.

According to psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.

“But even if you don’t have much control over the hours you have to work, you can ask yourself: In what other ways am I bringing greater enjoyment into my life?”

Sometimes it is the little things that make life more festive and fun.  We thought that to mix things up (pun intended) we would share a couple of our favorite refreshing summertime drinks with you.

The Arnold Palmer:

  • Make a clear glass pitcher of sun tea by placing 4 or 5 tea bags (tie the tea bags together and then hook on the handle) in the pitcher and leave in the sun for 5 hours.  (This makes a softer, less bitter tea.)
  • Take a tall glass; fill with ice and a lemon wedge.
  • Fill ½ full with the sun tea.
  • Top off with lemonade.

 

White Sangria:

  • 1 Bottle of fruity white wine (such as Spanish Albarino or Riesling)
  • ½ cup of thawed frozen, undiluted raspberry lemonade concentrate
  • 1 lemon thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of vodka (optional)
  • 16 oz. club soda
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • Ice for glasses
  • 1 thinly sliced lemon for glasses
  • Additional raspberries for glasses

Chill all ingredients. Combine white wine, raspberry lemonade, lemon slices and vodka in a pitcher. Add chilled club soda and raspberries just before serving and stir gently to combine. Place a few ice cubes in each tall glass and pour Sangria  over ice. Place a lemon slice and a few extra raspberries in each glass.

Perfect for summertime. Looks great and gets rave reviews!

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Apr 23 14

EEOC Loses Again: Appeal Dismissal Victory for Employers & Background Checks

by Dawn Standerwick
dismissed

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has rejected the EEOC’s contention that an employer’s use of credit created an unlawful, disparate impact on minorities.  In the case filed against Kaplan, the EEOC attempted, through a flawed approach, to show that black and Hispanic applicants were disproportionately adversely impacted by the use of credit reports in the hiring process.  The case was dismissed by a federal district judge and the EEOC followed that defeat with an appeal which has now also been dismissed.  This is being viewed as a significant setback for the EEOC.

This is one of two recent dismissals relating to litigation filed by the EEOC against employers (Kaplan and Freeman) that challenged their use of background checks.  The courts were highly critical of the theory presented by the EEOC in both cases.  The Freeman case is also currently under appeal in the Fourth Circuit and we await the court’s ruling in that case.

There has been significant activity from the EEOC surrounding the use of background checks.  In April 2012, the Commission issued their revised guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records.  Many governmental agencies have been critical of the guidance in that it does not enable employers to draw clear conclusions about the EEOC’s position and that it exceeds the Commission’s powers.  The EEOC has underscored their stance with the filing of a number of lawsuits against employers relating to their use of background checks with, to date, failed results.  Two cases related to the use of background checks are pending against Dollar General and BMW for their use of criminal background checks.  The EEOC alleges that BMW had a blanket policy that disproportionately screened out African Americans from jobs and that their policy is not job related and consistent with business necessity.  The case against Dollar General also claims a Title VII violation for discrimination on the basis of race.

Interestingly, it came to light that the EEOC itself performs the same type of background checks on employees and also utilizes credit checks as part of their own hiring process.  In reality, statistics show that the majority of employers do not routinely utilize a credit report as part of their screening process unless the individual has fiduciary responsibilities or direct access to the company’s financial instruments such as credit cards and the company checkbook .  Further, ten states currently have legislation in place that prohibits the use of credit reports in all but limited circumstances.

These dismissals should not signal employers that they are in the clear.  We don’t expect the EEOC to back off from their position or their efforts on this front and caution employers to fully understand the guidance, review their policies and seek the review of legal counsel to avoid being the target of an EEOC lawsuit.

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

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Apr 16 14

Michigan HR Day – April 23rd, 2014

by Ryan Cowsert
logo

Michigan HR Day – April 23rd, 2014

Michigan HR Day is a great event for HR Professionals and Business Owners that have a role in the HR function to exchange information, ideas and experiences. Michigan HR Day will address the relevance of the HR function as an important part of Michigan’s economic revitalization.

CredentialCheck® is excited about exhibiting at the upcoming Michigan HR Day Conference in Lansing. This conference provides us 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, we hope you’ll stop by our booth 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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