Caterpillar Hit With Age Bias Suit Over Social Media Firing

caterpillar-logoCaterpillar Inc. is being sued for alleged unlawful discrimination based on age when it fired an over-40 employee because of her off-duty Facebook post.  The fired employee claims she was a victim of disparate treatment based on age. But Caterpillar said the employee was terminated because it feared she might be harassing a co-worker whom she commented about on Facebook.

Tammy Applebaum worked as a distribution clerk at Caterpillar’s Lafayette, IA, plant.  She alleges she was fired for writing a comment responding to a younger co-worker’s Facebook post. The younger employee was not reprimanded by Caterpillar.

According to the complaint, Natasha Burns, the younger Caterpillar employee, was dating Applebaum’s son. Burns posted a Facebook message, while at work, alluding to the fact that “all the guys wanted to take nude photos” of her. When Applebaum saw the post she posted a comment on Burns’ Facebook page, saying “you’ve been down that road before.”

About two weeks later, Caterpillar told Applebaum she was being terminated immediately because it feared she would create “a hostile working environment” for Burns, according to the complaint.

“Applebaum’s case is less about social media policies than about Caterpillar using a pretext to rid itself of a 52-year-old employee because of her age,” said Jay Meisenhelder who is representing Applebaum in this suit.

Caterpillar claimed Applebaum posed a harassment danger even though she and Burns worked in different departments and Applebaum never approached Burns or exchanged any words with her at work, the complaint said.

Meisenhelder said the company’s decision to fire Applebaum while not disciplining Burns for apparently posting on Facebook during working hours is disparate treatment that violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

According to Bloomberg BNA’s interviews on the case, two attorneys who represent employers in labor and employment cases, but are not involved in this case, had the following to say:

  • John DiNome, a partner with Reed Smith in Philadelphia: Employers might have grounds to discipline or discharge an employee for comments posted online if they can link it to other conduct that might support harassment concerns. However, employers should tread carefully because workers’ off-duty social media posts can be protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Michael C. Schmidt, a Cozen O’Connor partner in New York: Employers also need to be careful about regulating their employees’ off-duty conduct because some states, including New York, restrict employers’ actions based on workers’ lawful off-duty conduct. But the “heightened sensitivity” to potential harassment means employers must pay more attention to their employees’ online activity. Employers should at least investigate if they learn about social media posts that might be harassing to co-workers, he said. Harassment that occurs online could leave an employer just as vulnerable to claims as if it happened “in person at the water cooler,” Schmidt said.

Applebaum v. Caterpillar, Inc. , N.D. Ind., No. 16-97, complaint filed 11/25/16.

Posted in CARCO | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Judge Dismisses Petco’s Motion to Dismiss Class Action for Violating the FCRA

petco-logo On November 22nd, a California federal court rejected Petco’s motion to dismiss a class-action suit that accuses Petco of not disclosing plans to conduct background checks on potential employees.

According to the court, the Plaintiffs suffered sufficient concrete injury for the case to continue. The Plaintiffs allege that Petco knew it was violating the FCRA when it buried information in pages of paperwork, instead of providing a separate document disclosing the background check.

According to the lawsuit, the FCRA requires that “an employer may not procure a consumer report concerning a job applicant or employee unless a ‘clear and conspicuous’ disclosure is made in a stand-alone document that ‘consists solely of the disclosure’ informing the applicant or employee that a report may be obtained for employment purposes.”

The complaint alleges that instead of a “clear and conspicuous” and separate disclosure, Petco has a text box in the middle of its online application “which appears on a screen with small font wording in the middle that the applicant scrolls through by dragging a scrollbar on the right hand side” called the Background Check Disclosure.

The class action states that if printed out, the disclosure would take up five pages, and which supposedly authorized Petco to conduct regular consumer reports of its applicants and employees. This disclosure does not meet federal requirements, the class action asserts.

In addition, the lawsuit claims that if an employer makes an “adverse decision” based on something in a credit report, they have to notify the consumer of that fact. The complaint alleges that Petco fails to do this.

 

Feist et al. v. Petco Animal Supplies Inc. et al., case number 3:16-cv-01369, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California

 

Posted in CARCO | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

11 Floods Deluge Used Car Market With Damaged Flood Vehicles: CARCO’s Tips to Avoid Buying Flood Damaged Cars

checkthatvin-smallWith 11 major floods hitting the United States this year alone, tens of thousands of vehicles have been submerged under water, leading to potentially significant damage. Unwitting consumers are at risk of buying a flood-damaged car if they don’t follow two important tips, according to experts.                                                                 

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB.org), “unknowingly buying a flood-damaged vehicle may put you and your family in physical and financial danger. A vehicle’s electronic systems are often destroyed from prolonged exposure to water rendering many of its safety features inoperable.”

CARCO experts note that two simple tips can protect consumers from significant issues down the road.  While misrepresenting a flood-damaged vehicle as undamaged is illegal, it happens all too often.

“If a deal looks too good, be careful,” said James Owens, CEO and President of leading pre-insurance auto inspection company CARCO.  “Before buying a vehicle, you should physically inspect it and run a ‘CheckThatVIN’ report, which relies on the most comprehensive online database of vehicles, which was created by federal law.”

Have the vehicle inspected or inspect the vehicle yourself.

  • Look for water marks behind the rugs in the cabin and trunk.
  • Look for rust in the engine compartment.
  • Check for musty odors in the cabin and trunk.
  • Check the wheel wells for signs of submersion.
  • Check that electrical wires are flexible and not brittle or cracking.
  • Was the vehicle parked in a location that had recent flooding?

Run a NMVTIS CheckThatVIN report.

The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) was designed to protect prospective buyers and sellers of used cars and trucks from concealed vehicle histories.

Created by federal law, this system is the only publicly available system in the country that requires all insurance carriers, auto recyclers, junk and salvage yards, and states to report vehicle title history information. NMVTIS data is also required in the state of California to comply with AB1215.

Reports typically include title “Brand” information that may uncover a previously-unknown “Salvage” or “Flood” vehicle. This information may not normally be found in a standard vehicle history report.

CheckThatVIN is available at https://checkthatvin.com.

“Customers shouldn’t have to be so wary when they buy a used car,” said William Pagan, Senior Vice President at CARCO.  “But, unfortunately, a lot of unscrupulous sellers will try to pawn off a flood-damaged car as perfectly fine.”

Rob Winthrop, business development director at CARCO, added that consumers should pay attention to cars labeled as “Insurer Total Loss.” “Often, a vehicle that was a loss due to flooding may be labeled as ‘Insurer Total Loss’ versus ‘Flood,’” he said.  “Running an inexpensive CheckThatVIN report prior to purchasing a used car offers valuable information and peace of mind.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in CARCO | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweeping immigration law changes are coming! Know your responsibility as an employer.

istock-passport-image

All indications are that the new President’s key initiatives will include sweeping changes in immigration. According to immigration law, employers have certain responsibilities during the hiring and background screening processes. Federal law requires that every employer who “recruits, refers for a fee, or hires an individual for employment in the U.S. must complete Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification,” according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

It’s time to review your I-9 program and ensure it is compliant. Here’s why.

  • Monetary penalties for knowingly hiring and employing undocumented workers can be up to $16,000 per violation.
  • Penalties for technical violations, including failing to produce a Form I-9, can be up to $1,100 per violation.
  • Criminal penalties can be up to 6 months in prison for engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring, recruiting or referring for a fee unauthorized aliens.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) audits are serious. In 2015, Hartmann Studios was hit with the largest fine ever ordered$605,250 – for more than 800 I-9 paperwork violations. Most of the violations were due to repeated failure to sign section 2 of the I-9 form. Employers need to have an audit proof process to ensure forms are properly completed and retained.

As part of our Onboarding Solution, CARCO can facilitate an electronic Form I-9 process (using e-signature technology) AND complete the E-Verify process through an interface with the DHS. The results of this process are available to clients within seconds. The employee’s I-9, along with the supporting documents, are then stored in compliance with ICE requirements.

In addition to the mechanics of providing the documents, CARCO’s I-9 solution allows its clients to achieve a far higher level of compliance than would otherwise be possible by having e-mail reminders, reporting, and e-mail escalation notices if these tasks are not complete.

Now is a good time to review your I-9 process with a CARCO Specialist to ensure compliance. Contact us a 1-866-557-5984 or click here to receive more information.

Don’t forget that the new Form I-9 must be used starting January 21, 2017.

 

 

Posted in CARCO, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

did you know blue square sticker isolated on white

25.3% of employee theft includes amounts stolen of $1M and up.
75% of employees have stolen from their employers at least once.
33% of all business bankruptcies are caused by employee theft.
2 years is the average time office fraud lasts before being detected.

(Source: Static Brain Survey) 

Do these numbers shock you? They should!

KNOW WHO YOU ARE HIRING!

At CARCO, our screening accuracy rate is the highest in the industry at 99.996%.

Contact CARCO at 1-866-557-5984 or click here to speak with a CARCO Specialist.

Posted on by Doreen Koronios | Leave a comment

The Importance of Thoroughly Vetting Your Background Screening Provider: Man Wins $3.6M for FCRA Violation by a Background Screening Company

According to an article in The Gainesville Sun, a background screening company twice misidentified Richard Williams of Chiefland as Ricky Williams, a Delray Beach man convicted of aggravated battery on a pregnant woman in Broward County and arrested on charges of selling cocaine in Palm Beach County. The two men have the same birth date.

After receiving the report from the first company, Williams followed the proper procedure and filed a dispute. When he applied for a different job, this time at Winn-Dixie, the same background screening company processed his background check and made the same mistake!

To receive punitive damages, Williams’ attorney had to prove that the background screening company’s mistakes were done willfully. The attorney had to essentially prove that the company did not follow its own procedures for people with common names or set up an effective procedure for someone already misidentified once in its system. The attorney was able to prove that the process did not make use of available reports that show Social Security numbers or address histories. Publicly available records from the Department of Corrections showed that Ricky Williams was in jail in Broward County when Richard Williams applied for the job at Winn-Dixie.

The above issue is a prime example of why employers should fully vet the consumer reporting agency that provides background screening services for their company. Some of the largest companies are constantly embroiled in class action lawsuits for FCRA violations. A simple Google search shows pages and pages of disputes. The background screening company in this article alone has been involved in over 17,300 disputes from 2009 – 2013.

It is important to know that not all background screening companies have the same processes. It is especially important to work with a company that uses only official sources of data and confirms all information from online databases with the courts.

Here’s how to do background checks right:

  1. Never rely on 3rd party databases to complete criminal record checks.
  2. Never report the raw results of an inadequate database search.
  3. Take the extra steps that protect clients and their candidates by verifying through secondary documentation or sources all potentially adverse information contained in a background report. (At CARCO, we re-verify adverse information up to five times prior to dissemination.)

For more information on how to ensure your background screening program is done right, contact a CARCO Specialist at 1-866-557-5984 or click here.

To read The Gainesville Sun’s article in full, click here.

 

 

Posted in CARCO | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Need Help Preparing Your Background Screening RFP? CARCO Can Help!

rfp request for proposal paper document vector graphic

As the New Year approaches, it’s time to review your HR technology and background screening partnerships, define what you are seeking in those partnerships in 2017, and prepare a detailed Request For Proposal (RFP).

At CARCO, we know that preparing a Request For Proposal (RFP) can be a daunting task. CARCO CAN HELP!! We have the knowledge and experience to know what vendors need to know about your background screening process in order to bid accurately. We’ve been there thousands of times! Good bids lead to good working relationships.

Let us help you create a well composed RFP.

We have consulted with many of the Fortune 1000 companies in creating robust background screening RFPs by helping them:

  • Take the lead role in the RFP process (don’t allow non-HR units to run the entire RFP process)
  • Know industry trends
  • Audit their current processes
  • Understand new legislation
  • Create decision-making stakeholder committees
  • Address differentiators between vendors
  • Understand how background checks are performed
  • Keep their RFP in compliance with the FCRA
  • Ensure that QUALITY IS KEY in selecting a background screening vendor

Interested in learning more about how CARCO can help you create a meaningful, well-prepared background screening RFP?  Let us show you how!

Contact a CARCO Specialist at 1-866-557-5984 or click here for more information.

Posted in CARCO | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

CARCO’s Secure Mobile App Helps to Enhance Your Candidates’ Onboarding Experience

hrtechmobile-email

Looking to enhance your candidates’ onboarding experience?

Nothing beats the convenience of CARCO’s secure Mobile App!

 Your new hires will thank you!!

 

CARCO’s Mobile Document Upload App facilitates the process of transferring forms from either the applicant or your Human Resources staff that are required for the background check or I-9 processes.

Some of the forms uploaded using the Mobile App include:

  • Social Security card
  • W-2 form
  • Passport
  • School records
  • Driver’s license

And no sensitive documents are stored on the phone itself. All forms are secured using TLS encryption so you can be confident that your candidates’ information will be safe. 

Interested in learning more?  Click here or speak to a CARCO Specialist at 1-866-557-5984.

Posted in CARCO | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Robert Half Int’l Hit With Class Action Suit for FCRA Violations

robert-half-logo

On October 21st, a proposed class action was filed against Robert Half International, Inc., a staffing agency, for allegedly violating the FCRA.

The Plaintiff alleges that he was denied employment based on a background report containing inaccurate information, including a felony robbery conviction, and that he never had a chance to dispute the information in the report.

According to the complaint, “As a result of [Robert Half]’s actions, Plaintiff and the members of the class have been deprived of their consumer rights and have been prevented from timely and effectively contesting the adverse action.”

The proposed class includes anyone who was subject to an adverse action over the past five years based on consumer reports procured by Robert Half and who were not given the opportunity to dispute the reports’ findings in advance. The lawsuit seeks damages between $100 and $1,000 per violation per class member.

We keep seeing the same type of class action lawsuit over and over again. Keep your company out of harm’s way by making sure your hiring process is completely compliant.  CARCO can help!

Click here for more information or call 1-866-557-5984 to speak to a CARCO Specialist.

 

Black v. Robert Half International, Inc., case number 3:16-cv-06077, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Posted in CARCO | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW DOJ/FTC ANTITRUST GUIDANCE FOR HR PROFESSIONALS

seal-dojseal-ftc

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission recently published a Guide to alert HR professionals and others involved in hiring and compensation decisions to potential violations of the antitrust laws.

This is a must read for all HR professionals as the DOJ has sued several companies for violations. The guidance discusses in detail:

  • Antitrust laws establish the rules of a competitive employment marketplace
  • Agreements among employers not to recruit certain employees or not to compete on terms of compensation are illegal.
  • Avoid sharing sensitive information with competitors

The Antitrust Guidance also contains a Questions and Answers section. Below is a sample of what this section covers.

    Question: I work as an HR professional in an industry where we spend a lot of money to recruit and train new employees. At a trade show, I mentioned how frustrated I get when a recent hire jumps ship to work at a competitor. A colleague at a competing firm suggested that we deal with this problem by agreeing not to recruit or hire each other’s employees. She mentioned that her company had entered into these kinds of agreements in the past, and they seemed to work. What should I do?

    Answer: What that colleague is suggesting is a no-poaching agreement. That suggestion amounts to a solicitation to engage in serious criminal conduct. You should refuse her suggestion and consider contacting the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center or the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition to report the behavior of your colleague’s company. If you agree not to recruit or hire each other’s employees, you would likely be exposing yourself and your employer to substantial criminal and civil liability.

Click here to read the Antitrust Guidance.

It has always been CARCO’s mantra that Compliance is KEY in every aspect of your hiring process.

To learn how CARCO keeps your hiring process compliant in every way, click here or speak to a CARCO Specialist at 1-866-557-5984.

 

Posted in CARCO | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment