Are you attending SHRM 2014 in Orlando? Stop by booth 2179 and speak with us about your background screening and onboarding needs.

While we are experts in background screening (we’ve been doing this since 1977) and offer a full suite of background screening products, we also have the technology you need to automate your entire hiring process and make it more efficient.

SHRM 2012 JerryWe hear all the time how companies are having issues with employee retention.  Let’s discuss how CARCO’s Onboarding Solution can streamline your process, reduce time-to-fill and provide your applicants an efficient and positive onboarding experience with your company.

 

Easy to use ****Automated****Customizable****Compliant

 

And while you’re visiting with us, enter to win a Pebble Smart Watch!

 

Looking forward to seeing you in Orlando!

Rochester City Council Votes Unanimously to “Ban the Box”

Law bookThe new law affects both public and private employees with four or more employees.

 

The Rochester “Ban the Box” legislation mandates that the question or check box about criminal convictions must be taken off the job applications but can be asked during the interview process.  However, employers cannot discriminate based on the answer.  According to City Councilman Adam McFadden, “If the question is asked, it gives the person an opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding the situation.”

 

Employers may also conduct prior background checks on applicants.

 

Exceptions to the law include police and firefighters and other professions where felony convictions specifically bar a person from employment.

 

The 9-0 vote means the legislation cannot be vetoed, and Mayor Lovely Warren is expected to sign the bill into law.

And the “Ban the Box” Movement Continues…..City of Baltimore Adopts “Ban the Box” Legislation for Private Employers

banthebox On May 15, 2014, the City of Baltimore, Maryland, became the tenth U.S. jurisdiction to “ban the box” by passing legislation restricting private employers from inquiring into the criminal history of job applicants.

 

This legislation applies to PRIVATE employers with 10 or more employees in the City of Baltimore and has some exceptions for employers conducting backgrounds as required by law and those serving the disadvantaged, elderly, or children. Large employers need not comply if they have a small footprint within city limits.

 

According to the legislation, background checks and inquiries about criminal history of applicants should be delayed until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.

 

A violation is a misdemeanor with potential penalties of a $500 fine and 90 days’ imprisonment.  In addition, the Baltimore Community Relations Commission may award a complainant back pay, reinstatement, attorneys’ fees, and compensatory damages, including damages for emotional distress and expenses incurred in seeking other employment.

 

It is recommended that all employers in the City of Baltimore, as well as companies with operations in Baltimore, review their hiring procedures to ensure compliance.

 

State of Delaware Enacts “Ban the Box” Legislation for Public Employers

bantheboxOn May 8th, the state of Delaware enacted H.B. 167, which will prohibit public employers from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal and credit histories prior to extending a job offer. Specifically, the bill limits employers’ consideration of felonies to ten years from the completion of sentence, and misdemeanors to five years from the completion of sentence. After an employer has determined that an applicant is otherwise qualified and has conditionally offered the applicant a position, an employer would be permitted to consider an applicant’s criminal history, credit history, or credit score. It is noteworthy that the legislation specifically lists “credit scores” as such are not used for employment screening purposes. The bill requires that employers consider several factors in connection with any decision regarding employment:

 

  • The nature of the crime and its relationship to the duties of the position;
  • Any information pertaining to the degree of rehabilitation and good conduct;
  • Whether the prospective job provides an opportunity for the commission of a similar offense;
  • Whether the circumstances leading to the offense are likely to reoccur; and
  • The amount of time that has elapsed since the offense.

 

http://www.legis.delaware.gov/LIS/lis147.nsf/vwLegislation/HB+167/$file/legis.html?open

Has your background screening vendor been sued by the FTC and/or the EEOC or involved in a class action lawsuit due to bad business practices?

It is NEVER a good practice to use databases as the sole source of criminal history information when conducting background checks on employees and applicants.

 

Criminal record databases may be valuable resources but the update periods are inconsistent or too infrequent. As a result, database searches alone are inherently unreliable.  Information in databases is often outdated, incomplete and always second-hand, and should only be used to supplement real-time courthouse research of original source information.  Any information developed from a database search must be verified and re-verified by court docket searches from the originating source. Further, this is the standard of care required under the FCRA.

 

You may be aware that there have been several high profile cases over the last several years where background screening companies have either been sued by the EEOC and/or FTC or involved in class action suits because they do not conduct background checks properly.

 

There’s a right way and a wrong way to conduct background checks!  Recently, Sterling InfoSystems (now known as Sterling Backcheck) found that out the hard way.

 

According to the New York Law Journal, Kevin A. Jones brought a consumer class action lawsuit against Sterling InfoSystems alleging violations of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.) and the New York Fair Credit Reporting Act (New York State Consolidated Laws Article 25).

 

Jones was offered and accepted a job as a doorman with Halstead Management Co. but the offer was revoked because Sterling’s background report on Jones showed that he had a criminal record.

 

Not only was the information reported by Sterling on the wrong Kevin Jones, but, according to Jones’ attorney, “the consumer reporting agency did not notify Jones that they were reporting a public record nor did they maintain reasonable procedures to ensure that the records were complete and up to date.”

 

Jones claims that the onus was on him to prove his innocence and he provided fingerprint-based documentation from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services showing that he did not have a criminal history.  The company corrected the report, but by that time the position was already filled.

 

Monica Welby of the Legal Action Center, which filed the suit along with Jones’ attorney, said “Sterling didn’t do anything to reinvestigate, as it is required to do under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  They just relied on a bulk database that is sold to reporting agencies and updated only periodically.”

 

It is the responsibility of background screening companies to keep their clients out of harm’s way and to use best practices when providing consumer reports. HR managers should do their due diligence when selecting and working with background screening vendors to ensure that they are using a quality company that does not “cut corners” which could cause serious problems for their employers.

 

CARCO’s approach to conducting background checks is designed to protect our clients and their candidates while improving the candidate experience.  We take the responsibility of keeping our clients out of harm’s way very seriously and always use best practices when providing consumer reports.  Our clients can rest assured that not only do our policies and practices follow the letter and spirit of the law, but we take the extra step to protect our client’s good name by verifying and re-verifying all adverse information to ensure that our reports are correct and compliant.

 

If you would like more information, please email sales@carcogroup.com or call 1-866-557-5984.

 

 

 

 

Maryland Adopts “Ban the Box” Law for Public Employers Only

bantheboxMaryland is now the ninth state to join the nationwide effort to “ban the box,” removing questions about criminal history from state job applications and postponing such questions until later in the hiring process. It is the latest sign that the nationwide movement to reduce unfair barriers to employment for people with criminal records is gaining momentum.

 

The bill, which is expected to take effect on October 1, 2014, does not affect private employers.

 

There are exemptions to the bill such as positions in the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and Office of the  Sheriff in any county, as well as positions for which an appointing authority has a statutory duty to conduct a criminal records check.

 

Maryland Governor Jack Markell said in a statement on Thursday that, “We need to start by looking at employment discrimination against people who have repaid their debt to society.

Ouch! DOJ fines two companies a total of $155,000 for I-9 violations.

i9 Recently, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a message to employers that they are obligated to treat both citizen and non-citizen employees the same when verifying employment eligibility.

 

The DOJ fined two companies for engaging in the practice of either requiring specific documentation from non-citizens for I-9 purposes or selectively running known or suspected non-citizens through E-Verify.   The combined civil penalties total $155,000.

 

In addition, both employers face various monitoring programs by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices and they must pay back pay to employees who suffered lost wages due to the alleged discriminatory practices.

 

The message the DOJ is sending is loud and clear – it is important for employers to know that federal law specifically prohibits the following:

 

  1. Citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee;
  2. National origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee;
  3. Document abuse – unfair documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process; and
  4. Retaliation or intimidation.

 

It is imperative to ensure that your company’s I-9 process is legal and compliant.  If not, the Department of Justice will come knocking on your door!  The best ways to ensure compliance are to review your process with your legal counsel and your background screening vendor, and check the I-9 website for updates and changes on a regular basis. http://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central.

Property Management Company Involved in a Class Action Lawsuit for Violating the FCRA

Here is another reminder to companies to ensure that their processes are legal and FCRA compliant.

 

On April 30th, a class action suit was filed in federal district court in Virginia against RealPage, Inc., a property management company, alleging it violated the FCRA by providing “derogatory and inaccurate” information in credit reports to landlords while conducting background checks on tenants.

 

The plaintiffs alleged that RealPage sold a report stating that the plaintiffs had been evicted within the last seven years even though the lawsuit for possession of real property was dismissed shortly after it was filed.  As a result, the plaintiffs claim that their application for an apartment was denied.

 

The suit also alleges that RealPage failed to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy in the preparation of the credit reports and credit files it publishes and maintains.  “Specifically, upon information and belief, RealPage does not follow the same automated and systematically rigorous processes to obtain dismissal information that it follows to obtain the initial derogatory entry of the lawsuit,” the complaint said.

Extended Stay Hotels Hit With Background Check FCRA Class Action Suit

A class action lawsuit was recently filed in a California federal district court against ESA Management LLC, the operator of Extended Stay America Hotels, alleging the company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by not properly informing thousands of job applicants that the company would run background checks on them.

 

According to the class action lawsuit, ESA Management “obtains consumer reports for employment purposes without a valid disclosure and a valid, signed authorization as part of the application process.”

 

The suit further alleges that the job application includes the following disclosure:  “I authorize the investigation of all statements contained in this application and release from all liability any persons or employers supplying such information, and I also release Extended Stay Hotels from any liability that might result from making this investigation.”

 

The suit argues that this statement fails to company with the FCRA because:

 

  1. It does not inform job applicants that a consumer report will be obtained on them.
  2. It does not ask for written authorization from the job applicant to obtain a consumer report.
  3. The statement is included on the same page as numerous other statements instead of in a separate disclosure authorization which is required under the FCRA.
  4. The language in the statement releases the defendant from liability.

 

Time and again we are seeing class action lawsuits involving FCRA violations, which never turn out well for a company.  It is very easy to keep your company out of harm’s way by consulting with your background screening company and reviewing your hiring process with legal counsel to ensure that it is compliant.

 

 

If you would like more information on this class action lawsuit, the information can be found under: Yahaira Camacho, et al. v. ESA Management LLC, et al., Case No. 3:14-cv-01089, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.