Backgrounds Online Blog

  • Texas Seeks To Overturn An EEOC Guidance

    November 21, 2017
    In 2012 the EEOC passed a Guidance that disallows employers from discriminating against people who have criminal records. That could be overturned in Texas.
    Backgrounds Online | November 21, 2017

    In 2012 the EEOC passed a Guidance that disallows employers from discriminating against people who have criminal records. That could be overturned in Texas.

    The Movement To Protect People With Minor Criminal Records

    There is a nationwide effort to help people who have criminal convictions find jobs. Ban The Box laws provide a perfect example. They prevent employers from including questions about criminal records on job applications. This is done to encourage employers to learn more about applicants before making final hiring decisions.

    Employers are still allowed to find out if an applicant has a criminal record. This typically occurs via a criminal background check after a conditional offer is extended. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) created a Guidance that says Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is intended to prevent "blanket discrimination" of people who have any type of criminal record.

    If a background check reveals that an applicant has a conviction, employers are asked to run an individualized assessment for that person. This includes considering the seriousness of their offense(s), how much time has passed and whether or not the conviction is relevant to the position for which they are applying. The EEOC hopes this will prevent employers from denying jobs to people who have minor convictions that should not make them ineligible for employment.

    Millions of Americans have been arrested. According to the Pew Research Center, black Americans are incarcerated six times more frequently than other Americans. The EEOC works to help prevent employers from discriminating against individuals who are part of a protected class. They feel that refusing to hire anyone who has a criminal record creates discriminatory practices against minorities.

    Texas May Go Against EEOC Guidelines

    According to an article in The Nation, Greg Abbott, currently the Governor of Texas, filed a lawsuit to block EEOC laws that protect people with criminal records. At the time Abbott was the state's Attorney General. He reportedly asked the court to issue a judgment that would make it legal for state agencies to deny employment to anyone who has a criminal record and disallow the EEOC from sending "right-to-sue" letters based on claims of discriminatory practices.

    Abbott's lawsuit was dismissed. In 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reviewed this case and determined that the state of Texas has the right to challenge EEOC laws in court. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Employment Law Project have since become involved in this re-opened case. They made a motion to make the Texas Conference of the NAACP a defendant so their lawyers would have an opportunity to participate in court hearings. That motion was denied.

    Since the EEOC will not be directly involved, they are represented by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division which is currently led by Eric Dreiband. According to the article in The Nation, this is a concern for the EEOC. Dreiband has opinions about civil rights that some believe are controversial. There is apprehension that this scenario will help Texas win the lawsuit and thus not be required to follow EEOC guidelines.

    What Employers Should Know

    Many states have passed laws that are intended to protect people who have minor, non-violent offenses. These laws affect all employers that operate within those states. Every employer should be aware of and compliant with such laws.

    Although Texas lawmakers are hoping to allow state agencies to not be bound by EEOC guidelines, a national movement that encourages employers to consider hiring people with minor convictions continues to grow.

    Backgrounds Online is dedicated to keeping up with laws that cover the hiring process, publishing educational materials and helping our clients with their compliancy efforts. If you have questions about what we can do for you, please contact us today.

  • How an Unqualified Woman Landed a Nursing Job

    November 14, 2017
    A woman worked as a nurse for several months. When she applied for another nursing position, it was discovered that she was not qualified to work with patients.
    Backgrounds Online | November 14, 2017

    A woman worked as a nurse for several months. When she applied for another nursing position, it was discovered that she was not qualified to work with patients.

    False Identity

    According to an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, a woman named Samantha Rivera applied for a nursing job through a staffing agency called ATC Healthcare Services. The woman's resume included the necessary credentials, education and work experience.

    Rivera told the people at ATC that she had been working at a hospital in New Mexico since earning a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Based on this, she was hired to work in the Intensive Care Unit and a geriatric psych ward. Problem was, the background Rivera used to win this job did not belong to her.

    A woman in New Mexico had a similar name to Samantha Rivera and the proper experience to earn a nursing job. Rivera used the nurse's name and credentials when she applied at the St. Louis-based staffing agency. Allegedly, the personnel there did not test Rivera's skills or take proper steps to confirm her educational and employment history.

    How Rivera Got Caught

    After working at St. Alexius Hospital for several months, Rivera's contract was up for review. It was not renewed. The woman then tried to repeat her process somewhere else. She applied for work as a nurse through a staffing agency in Chicago.

    Rivera supplied the same false information to the new agency. This time, however, she was asked to complete a test of basic nursing skills. She failed. When the agency conducted a more thorough review of Rivera's background, they discovered that she was not the person she claimed to be.

    The Aftermath

    When personnel at the Chicago staffing agency uncovered the truth about Rivera, they contacted the authorities. Rivera was arrested and later pled guilty to identity theft and healthcare fraud. She will be sentenced in January, 2018 and could be sent to a federal prison for up to 16 months.

    This was not the first time Rivera managed to land a job for which she was not qualified. Despite a lack of proper training and education, in 2015 she was hired to teach at Brown Mackie College in Albuquerque New Mexico. According to the St. Louis Times, the school failed to inform the Nursing Board that Rivera was fraudulently passing herself off as a certified nurse.

    It is unknown if any potentially dangerous or negative incidents occurred in the ICU due to Rivera's lack of experience. This story does, however, illustrate the dangers of not thoroughly checking a person's background.

    What Should Have Happened

    Every employer, including staffing agencies, should conduct background checks that are appropriately customized for each position. In this case, Rivera's employment and educational history should have been confirmed before she was allowed to work as a nurse.

    A proper healthcare background check and skills test could have been used to help uncover Rivera's fraudulent claims before she was hired. Multiple Human Resources studies have shown that a large percentage of job applicants include some exaggerations or falsified information on their resumes. While this case is more extreme than most, it serves as a strong warning about the importance of thorough background checks and proper verifications.

    If you are hiring for the healthcare or any other industry, our team of screening professionals can help you customize and save screening packages that are perfectly suited for any position. Contact us today to discuss your screening needs.

  • If A New Bill Passes, Every U.S. Employer Must Use E-Verify

    November 7, 2017
    Governor Jerry Brown signed Bill AB 1008 on October 14, 2017. The new law establishes a statewide Ban the Box policy for California.
    Backgrounds Online | November 7, 2017

    Three members of Congress introduced a new version of the Legal Workforce Act. If it passes, U.S. employers will be required to use E-Verify for new employees.

    The legislation was sponsored by Congressman Lamar Smith (Republican, Texas), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (Republican, Virginia) and Congressman Ken Calvert (Republican, California).

    What Is E-Verify?

    E-Verify is an online system that confirms a person's eligibility to work in the United States. It checks Social Security Numbers against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security records. The program is said to confirm "99.8% of work-eligible employees" in less than two minutes.

    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency provides information about E-Verify on their website. It is said to be a fast, easy and free way for employers to verify that people are eligible to work in the United States. E-Verify is currently being used by more than 740,000 employers. Learn more about the E-Verify system.

    About the Proposed Legislation

    The Legal Workforce Act would require every employer in the United States to use E-Verify. Participation in the program would be enforced on an incremental basis:
    • Employers with more than 10,000 employees would be required to start using E-Verify within six months.
    • Employers with 500 to 9,999 employees would start within 12 months.
    • Employers with 20 to 499 employees would start within 18 months.
    • Employers with 19 or fewer employees would start within 24 months.

    Employers can enroll in E-Verify on the USCIS website at any time.

    What This Will Do If Passed

    This bill will:
    • Override any existing state laws about E-Verify.
    • Eliminate the need for Form I-9.
    • Establish penalties for employers that knowingly hire people who are not eligible to work in the U.S. or provide false information while using E-Verify.
    • Ensure that employers are not penalized if they inadvertently, and through no fault of their own, hire someone who is not eligible for employment after receiving incorrect information from the E-Verify system.
    • Permit people who legally work in America to lock their Social Security Number, thus preventing someone else from using it during a job search.
    • Give employers the ability to verify eligibility for existing employees in a "nondiscriminatory manner."

    How Does This Affect the Hiring and Background Screening Process?

    If passed, the Legal Workforce Act will not have an impact on background screening. It will, however, require an important update to every employer's hiring process. After extending a conditional offer, employers may run background checks on their candidates to help make final hiring decisions. This law would add a step to that process.

    After a candidate is hired, the employer would then run the person's Social Security Number through the E-Verify system. The results will show the employer whether or not the person is legally authorized to work in the United States.

    Backgrounds Online watches for new laws that impact background screening and hiring in the U.S. We'll follow this story and post updates as warranted. Read our new blog entries each week for information about compliance-related topics, screening best practices and other useful topics.

  • California Employers Should Prepare for a Ban the Box Law

    October 31, 2017
    Governor Jerry Brown signed Bill AB 1008 on October 14, 2017. The new law establishes a statewide Ban the Box policy for California.
    Backgrounds Online | October 31, 2017

    Governor Jerry Brown signed Bill AB 1008 on October 14, 2017. The new law establishes a statewide Ban the Box policy for California.

    What This Means for CA Employers

    California-based employers will need to be aware of and compliant with all regulations that are included in the Ban the Box Law, which is known as AB 1008. This law:

    • Prohibits California employers from including questions on job applications that ask if the person has a conviction.
    • Stipulates that CA employers may only inquire about an applicant's criminal history or run a criminal background check after extending a conditional job offer.
    • Bans employers from considering arrests that did not result in a conviction.
    • Ban employers from considering convictions that were expunged, dismissed, statutorily eradicated or sealed.

    How California Employers Should Consider Criminal Convictions

    Employers will be permitted to check an applicant's criminal history after making a conditional job offer. If a criminal background check shows that the person has a conviction, then AB 1008 sets some regulations on how employers must proceed.

    To start, the employer must perform an individualized assessment for each applicant. This involves considering the seriousness of an offense and how much time has gone by since the conviction occurred. Employers should also weigh the type of conviction against the type of job an applicant is seeking.

    After assessing an individual, the employer may consider a pre-adverse action (potentially denying employment), but they must first complete the following steps:

    • Inform the applicant that they have not yet, but might pursue the adverse action.
    • Provide the person with a copy of their background check and their rights under the FCRA.
    • Specify the conviction(s) that might cause the person to be ineligible for employment.
    • Supply a copy of the conviction history report (if one exists).
    • Let the person know they have the right to dispute the results of their background report and that they have five business days to provide written notification of their intention to dispute.

    If an applicant notifies a potential employer that they wish to dispute their background check, then the employer must give the person an additional five business days to follow up.

    When the pre-adverse process is complete, an employer may choose to deny employment based on a criminal conviction. The employer must first:

    • Notify the applicant in writing about their decision.
    • Provide a second copy of the applicant's rights under the FCRA.
    • Inform the applicant, in writing, that they have the right to file a complaint.
    • Offer a written document that explains the employer's policies for allowing an applicant to challenge a hiring decision or request reconsideration.
    • Follow any other existing adverse action procedures.

    Concerns and Exceptions

    Concerns have been expressed about Law AB 1008. One is that the law might conflict with or contradict existing laws in California cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. This would make it difficult for employers in those areas to comply with all the laws that affect them.

    There are exceptions for certain types of California employers. AB 1008 will not apply to employers that have fewer than five employees. It also won't apply to state or local agencies that are required to run criminal background checks on all applicants.

    Otherwise, California's Ban the Box Law will cover public and private employers. It goes into effect on January 1, 2018. Prior to that date, California employers may wish to update their screening policies to make sure they will be compliant with AB 1008.

    Remaining compliant with local, state and federal laws that cover hiring and background screening can be difficult. The highly-trained staff at Backgrounds Online keeps up with these laws and creates educational materials, internal controls and additional resources to help our customers with their compliance efforts. If you have questions about how we can help you, please contact us today.

  • Is a Second Pre-Adverse Notice Ever Required?

    October 24, 2017
    A new lawsuit raised this question: if a company denies employment based on two versions of the same background check, should they send two pre-adverse notices?
    Backgrounds Online | October 24, 2017

    A new lawsuit raised this question: if a company denies employment based on two versions of the same background check, should they send two pre-adverse notices?

    About the Lawsuit

    In the case of Wright vs. Lincoln Prop Co., the plaintiff filed a suit against a potential employer. They had offered him a job that was contingent on the results of his background check. On June 6, the employer saw that an early version of Wright's report included one conviction for driving under the influence and two drug-related felony convictions. This led to them sending a pre-adverse notice and the required accompanying documents, including a copy of Wright's partial background check.

    When the employer received the completed report, they decided to deny employment to Wright. They did not, however, send a second pre-adverse notice. When he learned of this, Wright filed a lawsuit against Lincoln Prop Co.

    Are Employers Required to Send a Second Notification?

    Wright claimed that Lincoln Prop Co. violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by not sending a second pre-adverse notice after they received the finished version of his report. The FCRA stipulates that job seekers must be notified if an adverse action is being considered.

    Applicants must also have the opportunity to see a copy their report and file a dispute if they believe it contains information that is incorrect or not allowed to be shared publicly. Since the employer didn't send a pre-adverse notice for the completed report, Wright did not have an opportunity to view and potentially dispute the final document.

    Both the plaintiff and the defendant requested a summary judgment, which would put the blame on the opposite party without the need for a trial. The judge who reviewed this case determined that it must be heard by a jury.

    Next Steps

    Before calling for a trial by jury, the judge noted that there were no material differences between the two iterations of Wright's report. According to the judge, the final document simply provided a more comprehensive summary. Therefore, it was concluded, the plaintiff did not have an opportunity to view the finished report and the case could not be dismissed.

    A jury must be assembled before the case can proceed. Only then will it be determined whether or not the employer will be held responsible for not sending a second pre-adverse notice with the accompanying documents.

    Compliance

    Remaining compliant with all the federal, state and county laws that cover background screening can be difficult. There are numerous laws beyond the FCRA that list steps employers must adhere to when running background checks for hiring, promoting or other screening purposes.

    Backgrounds Online strives to keep up with relevant laws that impact our customers. While this case presents a scenario that has not occurred before, the outcome may have an impact on the pre-adverse notification process that all employers must follow. We'll keep up with this story and provide updates as the case progresses.

    The team at Backgrounds Online is committed to helping our clients become and remain compliant with relevant laws. We are accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners and everyone on our team earns their FCRA certification. To learn more about how we can help you with your screening and compliance efforts, please contact us.

  • What Employers Should Know About Expunged Criminal Records

    October 17, 2017
    Employers order background checks to learn more about applicants and find out if they have criminal records. But what happens if a record has been expunged?
    Backgrounds Online | October 17, 2017

    Employers order background checks to learn more about applicants and find out if they have criminal records. But what happens if a record has been expunged?

    Some Laws About Expunged Records Are Changing

    The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) published an article in which they covered this topic. They interviewed Sage Knauft, a partner at a California law firm. He provided advice to employers about how to protect themselves if they encounter a scenario in which a person they screened has an expunged record.

    This is something that could become more common over the next few years. Multiple states currently allow expungements for non-convictions. Some elected officials are looking into options to create or expand similar policies.

    For example, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Brown proposed that if an arrest did not result in a conviction, then that record should be expunged. This concept is in line with what is often called the Second Chance policy - an effort to "limit employers' access to criminal records of arrests without convictions, minor misdemeanors and even low-level felonies, to improve ex-offenders' job prospects."

    The Push to Expunge Criminal Records

    In his SHRM interview, Knauft noted that there is a nationwide push to allow people who were not convicted, or who had minor convictions, to expunge their criminal records. He also suggested that the United States has a high incarceration rate and nearly one-third of the population has been arrested.

    Job seekers who have any type of arrest or criminal record may be automatically disqualified by potential employers. Lawmakers have been taking steps to help these people find employment. One of the most notable is the Ban The Box movement, which prohibits employers from asking about criminal records on job applications.

    Allowing non-conviction arrest records to be expunged could be another big step towards helping people to find jobs. The primary goal is to prevent employers from rejecting applicants who were never convicted or who had minor convictions that should not prevent them from obtaining employment.

    How This Could Affect Employers

    If new laws are passed to allow expungement, then employers will be responsible for complying. These laws may vary by state, so the policies employers must follow could differ by location.

    In the SHRM interview, Knauft said that he believes applicants will have cause to file lawsuits if they are denied employment based on arrest or criminal records that were expunged. He emphasized the importance of only using accurate, up-to-date and reportable data when making hiring decisions. As existing laws change and new ones are implemented, the onus is on the employer to update their policies accordingly.

    What to Look For in a Background Check Provider

    Knauft stressed that it is crucial to work with reputable Consumer Reporting Agencies. Employers should look for background check providers that only use reportable data in their reports.

    Backgrounds Online is a Consumer Reporting Agency that has provided compliant background checks for more than 20 years. We are accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), an organization that establishes and promotes a high level of ethics and performance standards in the background screening industry. All of our screening professionals earn their FCRA certification and strive to keep up with relevant federal, county and state laws.

    If you have questions about your screening policies or how your business can use background checks to make informed and compliant hiring decisions, please contact us today.

  • Are Background Checks Run On Haunted House Employees?

    October 10, 2017
    An Indiana-based news team recently published an article that discussed background screening policies for applicants at Halloween-themed haunted houses.
    Backgrounds Online | October 10, 2017

    An Indiana-based news team recently published an article that discussed background screening policies for applicants at Halloween-themed haunted houses.

    Halloween Hiring

    October is packed with thrills, chills and... employment opportunities. Every year, hundreds of seasonal businesses sell costumes and create spooky fun experiences for Halloween enthusiasts. One common attraction is the haunted house - a place where customers can receive a safe scare from actors in an assortment of "horrifying" costumes.

    Haunted houses are popular with the public and people who are seeking temporary jobs in the "scare industry." It's not unusual for hundreds of individuals to apply for work at a single location. People who run these facilities need employees to do a wide range of tasks such as selling tickets, cleaning up and attempting to frighten crowds.

    Are Temporary Workers Being Screened?

    CBS4 in Indianapolis, Indiana decided to find out if haunted house employees go through a background screening before they are hired. They published an article that showed mixed results. Their investigation revealed that local haunted houses are not required to screen applicants. Each facility is allowed to decide if they want to run background checks on prospective employees.

    The news team discovered that some locations ran background checks while others did not. The level of screening varied as well. Procedures ranged from checking to see if applicants have active warrants or are listed on a sex offender registry to running comprehensive criminal background checks.

    According to the CBS4 article, most employers also put their performers through a rigorous training program that covers safety, interacting with the public and other key topics.

    Why Background Checks Are Important for Haunted House Workers

    People who work at haunted houses or similar attractions have direct access to the public. This can include minors, elderly individuals or others who could be part of a vulnerable population. It is essential to ensure that employees who are hired to create terrifyingly memorable experiences are also well trained on how to establish and maintain a safe environment.

    Background checks provide important information about each applicant, including the subject's employment history, whether or not they are listed on a sex offender registry and if they have any reportable criminal convictions. If they do, then the report will contain details about the offense(s) that employers may consider when making hiring decisions.

    While most haunted houses are "hands off", a few allow the staff to touch patrons. Customers are informed of this in advance. They expect everyone who is working inside the haunted house to be trained, safe and knowledgeable about what is and is not an improper touch. In situations like this, background checks become even more crucial.

    Best Practices

    If you're hiring for the Halloween season, we recommend screening all potential employees to help ensure a positive experience for everyone. Best practice is to create a background screening package that will be used on all potential performers. This helps establish a fair and transparent hiring policy.

    It's easy to build a custom background check package that includes an array of criminal record searches, employment verification, reference checks and other position-focused searches. If you are hiring staff for a holiday-themed attraction and need help building a custom background package, contact our experienced screening staff for assistance.

  • California Is Considering a Statewide Ban the Box Law

    October 3, 2017
    Governor Jerry Brown has until October 15, 2017 to sign a bill that would prohibit questions about criminal records on all CA job applications.
    Backgrounds Online | October 3, 2017

    Governor Jerry Brown has until October 15, 2017 to sign a bill that would prohibit questions about criminal records on all CA job applications.

    About the Bill

    Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (Sacramento) sponsored the bill which is known as AB 1008. This bill would prohibit California employers from including questions on job applications that ask if the applicant has an arrest or criminal record. Employers would still be allowed to run criminal background checks but only after a conditional job offer was extended.

    If the bill is signed, California would become the tenth state to pass a statewide "Ban the Box" law. While many experts believe that this is inevitable, there is some resistance to the bill.

    Opposition

    The California Chamber of Commerce and a group of employers in the golden state voiced concerns about AB 1008. They felt the bill would create several unfair scenarios.

    Attorney Benjamin Ebbink believes it would create an untenable situation for employers. He commented: "On one hand, if they don't hire an individual, they face a discrimination claim. On the other hand, if they do take a chance on an individual and something goes wrong, they are subject to liability for negligent hiring and retention. I think there is concern that this places employers in a box where they will face litigation."

    To address these and similar concerns, several amendments were made before the bill was presented to the Governor.

    Amendments

    The amendments are designed to:

    • Create exemptions for CA employers that have 1 - 4 employees.
    • Allow employers to consider misdemeanor and felony convictions that occurred more than 7 years prior during the background screening process (an early version of the bill prohibited this).
    • Eliminate a proposed requirement that said employers would have to explain why they chose to deny employment to a person who has a criminal record.
    • Remove the proposed requirement that employers must complete individualized assessments in writing and follow the Federal 2012 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidance and the State Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEHC) guidance.

    Ongoing Concerns

    Even with the amendments, there is still opposition to this bill. The primary concern is that it might contradict existing Ban the Box laws in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, thus making it impossible for employers in certain areas to comply with both city and state regulations.

    To avoid this scenario, an effort is underway to encourage Governor Brown to veto this iteration of the bill. The goal is to get a revised version of AB 1008 that overrides all existing Ban The Box and related laws in favor of a single, statewide policy. This would ensure that California employers would all be expected to follow the same laws.

    What This Would Mean For CA Employers

    The primary change would be that job applications for CA-based positions would not be allowed to include questions about arrests or criminal records. Applications that currently contain such questions would need to be updated.

    Employers that choose to deny employment after learning an applicant has a criminal record (following a background screening) would be required to perform an individualized assessment. This would include determining whether or not the person's conviction has a "direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job." Employers would be asked to consider factors such as the nature of a conviction, how the conviction relates to the expected job duties and how much time passed since the conviction occurred.

    If the bill is signed, a date will be scheduled for AB 1008 to go into effect. Once that date occurs, every California employer must adhere to the law unless they are eligible for one of the recently added exemptions. We will watch for updates and keep you informed.

    Complying with federal, state and local laws can be tricky. The screening experts at Background Online are committed to keeping up with these laws and informing our customers of changes that could impact you. If you have questions about how we can help with your compliance efforts, please contact us for assistance.

  • Mistaken Identity in a Background Check

    September 26, 2017
    A Maryland man learned the hard way that his background check contained data for a Florida resident who has multiple criminal convictions.
    Backgrounds Online | September 26, 2017

    A Maryland man learned the hard way that his background check contained data for a Florida resident who has multiple criminal convictions.

    Same Name. Same Birthdate.

    Maryland resident Christopher Jenkins is dealing with an unusual situation. He shares the same name and date of birth with a man who lives in Florida. That may be somewhat common, but it's causing problems for the MD-based Jenkins.

    The Christopher Jenkins from Florida has multiple criminal convictions including marijuana possession and grand theft auto. Those convictions were inadvertently attributed to the Christopher Jenkins from Maryland in a background check report.

    Christopher Jenkins - the one who lives in MD - has applied for jobs and had other experiences that require a background check. He's had a difficult time dealing with the fact that his report includes criminal records that belong to someone else.

    Coping with this Issue

    Jenkins realizes that he could miss out on employment and other opportunities because of the mistaken identity. He admitted this is an ongoing source of stress and depression for him. To help prevent additional problems, Jenkins collected a few useful documents:

    • A notarized affidavit that addresses his mistaken identity case.
    • A letter that was issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to confirm he is not the person who has a criminal record.
    • A copy of his fingerprints.

    Jenkins brings these documents with him most everywhere he goes just in case he must prove that he does not have a criminal record.

    How Backgrounds Online Helps Avoid Identity Mistakes

    At Backgrounds Online, we take numerous precautions to avoid scenarios like this one. Before we start a background investigation, we use several data points to confirm the subject's identity:

    • Authorization: The person we screen must personally provide permission for us to run a background check.
    • Full Name: This includes first, last and middle. If someone doesn't have a middle name, we offer an easy way to let us know. We ask for the person's full legal name – exactly as it is on their photo ID.
    • Date of Birth: We require the person's birth day, month and year.
    • Social Security Number: This is a unique identifier that helps us pinpoint the correct person.
    • Contact Information: We ask for the person's address and phone number.

    If Your Background Check is Incorrect

    It doesn't happen often, but now and then a background check contains incorrect information. If this occurs, we have a system in place to help.

    The person who was screened can start by filing a dispute. We provide a simple form that requests the individual's name, email address, phone number and the name of the company to which they applied. Optionally, the person can give us the reason for their dispute.

    Once we have this information, our team of screening experts launches an investigation. If an error is discovered and revisions are made, we send an updated report to both the individual and the organization that initially requested the background check.

    We hope Charles Jenkins is able to resolve his case of mistaken identity. If you are curious or concerned about what might be on your background check, you can find out by running a personal report from our sister site IAmScreened.com.

  • U.S. Employers Must Use the New Form I-9 as of 9.18.2017

    September 19, 2017
    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency updated Form I-9 for Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers must now use the revised form.
    Backgrounds Online | September 19, 2017

    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency updated Form I-9 for Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers must now use the revised form.

    Updates to Form I-9

    The Department of Homeland Security website, https://www.uscis.gov/, states that employers who recruit, refer potential employees (for a fee) or hire must complete a Form I-9 for each candidate to help verify the person's identity and their authorization to work in the United States. As of September 18, 2017 employers must use a revised version of the Form I-9.

    Employers can find a copy of the updated form here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9. The USCIS also created a handbook for employers that answers questions about Form I-9 and provides guidance for properly completing all relevant documentation. See that handbook here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/handbook-employers-m-274.

    Regulations Regarding Retaining Form I-9

    U.S. employers must retain a copy of every employee's Form I-9 for as long as the person is on payroll or receiving any form of remuneration. When that employment ends, the employer must keep the I-9 form for a period of time. The USCIS provides a simple method for determining how long employers must save each Form I-9 for previous employees.

    Regulations Regarding Storing Form I-9

    The USCIS provides rules for storing these forms. They must be:

    • Kept at the work site or off-site at a storage facility.
    • Retained either in a single format or via multiple formats such as paper, electronically, microfilm or microfiche.
    • Accessible for review within 3 business days in case a government official asks to inspect the documents.

    If the Form I-9 and related documents are available on paper, they may be kept with other personnel records. However, they should be separated to easily facilitate an inspection request.

    Form I-9 Inspections

    Government officials from various departments, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor, have the right to review and inspect an employer's I-9 forms and accompanying documents. In most cases, a government official will provide written notice of their inspection request and give the employer 3 business days in which to collect the necessary materials. In some cases, subpoenas and warrants may be issued to supersede the 3-day time frame.

    When asked to provide I-9 forms and related documents for inspection, employers must:

    • Collect and make available all relevant documents within the required time frame.
    • Retrieve and/or reproduce forms that are stored electronically.
    • If necessary, provide hardware or software to enable viewing of electronically stored documents.
    • Provide an electronic summary of the data contained on the Form I-9 if a summary exists.

    It is a violation of law for employers to either delay an inspection or refuse to collect and present the requested documentation.

    Staying Compliant with New and Ongoing Regulations

    When new state and federal laws are created, or existing laws are updated, employers must be aware of and compliant with those changes. Backgrounds Online endeavors to keep up with these laws and provide relevant information via our website, blog and Newsletters.

    Check our State Law section for important information about laws that that affect employers, background screening and hiring. Watch this blog for new articles about topics that might impact you. If you have questions about how we can help improve the background screening portion of your hiring process, please contact our team for assistance.

  • Avoid These Four Mistakes During Your Hiring Process

    September 13, 2017
    Many employers make the same basic mistakes when hiring new employees. Understanding and avoiding these mistakes can save your business time and money.
    Backgrounds Online | September 13, 2017

    Many employers make the same basic mistakes when hiring new employees. Understanding and avoiding these mistakes can save your business time and money.

    1. Being Unprepared For Interviews

    Failing to prepare for an interview is one of the most common hiring issues. Before scheduling an on-site appointment, think about what you'd like to tell each applicant and what you want to learn about them. Strategize on the best way to get information that helps you determine whether or not the person is right for your business.

    Prepare questions that are designed to encourage applicants to talk - not just answer "Yes" or "No." Create ways to test their knowledge about the type of work they would do if hired. Have them perform a task that is similar to one they might encounter on the job.

    Stay away from personal topics, such as asking the applicant about their family or marital status. Create a plan that keeps the interview focused and advancing forward to ensure you get everything you need during your allotted time. Listen carefully to each person so you can properly assess their performance.

    2: Hiring Too Quickly... Or Too Slowly

    When a hiring need arises, employers can be so eager to find someone that they rush through the process. While this may result in faster hires, it is unlikely to result in the right hire.

    Conversely, taking too long can cause your business to miss out on qualified candidates. If you keep an eligible applicant waiting too long, they are likely to accept another offer.

    Finding the right balance is tricky, but possible. Start by writing a thoughtful job description that provides a detailed picture of your expectations. Post the opening on various platforms to attract a wide range of applicants. Though it can be time consuming, go through each resume and schedule interviews with people who appear to be qualified. When possible, schedule phone interviews first to help optimize the list of people you will meet in person.

    3: Not Understanding Background Screening Laws

    Even when the hiring process appears to go smoothly, you can still encounter problems if you are not compliant with background screening laws. You may be familiar with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) - federal legislation that is designed to protect consumers such as job seekers - but you should also be aware of relevant state laws.

    Here are a few federal and local laws you should know about:

    • Ban The Box - many cities and states have laws that prohibit questions about criminal records on job applications.
    • Disclosures - when asking an applicant for permission to run a background check, you must provide a disclosure document. This must be a standalone document that does not contain any additional requests, waivers or content.
    • Marijuana Usage - a few states have legalized medical marijuana usage, which has led to some changes in laws about marijuana-related misdemeanors. If you live in one of these states, make sure you are up-to-date on relevant laws.

    4: Using Outdated and Illegal Practices

    The background screening industry is constantly evolving. Some practices that were once acceptable are now prohibited in various cities and states. Examples include:

    • Asking about salary history. While this is still allowed in many places, a growing number of cities and states are banning this practice.
    • Making choices based on the applicant's personal traits. Hiring decisions should never be influenced by a candidate's gender, ethnicity, religion, age, marital status or similar factors.
    • Denying employment due to any criminal conviction. Numerous states have implemented laws to help people with non-violent criminal records find employment. While these laws vary, best practice is to consider each conviction individually. Factors to review include the type of offense, how long ago it occurred and whether or not the individual may pose a safety risk to others.

    Hiring is an often difficult but essential process for every business. Take time to develop a strategy, prepare for each interview and comply with relevant laws. These simple steps will help save your business time and money while empowering you to make informed hiring decisions.

  • Court Delays in TX & LA Due to Hurricane Harvey

    September 5, 2017
    Hurricane Harvey has caused countless tragedies in Texas and Louisiana. One side effect of this disaster is that many courthouses have been temporarily closed.
    Backgrounds Online | September 5, 2017

    Hurricane Harvey has caused countless tragedies in Texas and Louisiana. One side effect of this disaster is that many courthouses have been temporarily closed.

    Court closures will cause delays for all background checks that are being run in the affected locations. No rush orders can be accommodated in those areas at this time.

    Court Delays in Texas

    The Supreme Court Of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals Of Texas issued a joint order to suspend court proceedings. This order called for court closures in the following cities/counties:

    Aransas, Austin, Beaumont, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Hardin, Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Matagorda, Palo Pinto, Refugio, Victoria, and Wharton.

    On August 23, 2017 Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared 30 counties to be disaster areas. Three days later, 20 more were included. As the full extent of storm damage is determined, additional courts could be temporarily shut down.

    Court Delays in Louisiana

    Multiple courts in Louisiana are also experiencing temporary closures due to Hurricane Harvey. The list includes:

    Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Grant, Jeff Davis, Natchitoches, Vernon, and Winn.

    Most Louisiana courts were closed on Tuesday, August 29. This is likely to cause minor delays in areas that are not listed above.

    Keep up with the Closures

    Backgrounds Online will be watching for news about new court closures in areas that have been hit by Hurricane Harvey. We will post additional blog entries as needed. If you have questions about the status of background checks in these or other areas, please contact us.

    Our thoughts are with the people who have been impacted by this tragic event.