Backgrounds Online Blog

  • A New Study Investigates Background Screening Trends

    August 15, 2017 surveyed more than 1,500 HR professionals to ask if they ran background checks and, if so, why. Their results showed most employers do screen candidates.
    Backgrounds Online | August 15, 2017 surveyed more than 1,500 HR professionals to ask if they ran background checks and, if so, why. Their results showed most employers do screen candidates.

    Statistics from the Study

    Background checks are an essential part of the hiring process. Results of the survey showed that 96% of the businesses they contacted do screen potential employees. The study also provided reasons why a few employers do not. Out of the 4% that don't run background checks:

    • 29% said they didn't have a budget for screening
    • 37% use their own methods
    • 27% did not provide a specific reason

    The Primary Reason Businesses Run Background Checks Is:

    Safety. Nearly 90% of the respondents said they screen applicants to help ensure the safety of current employees, customers and others. Criminal background checks show employers if an applicant has a serious misdemeanor or felony on their record. This information helps them make educated hiring decisions and create safe working environments.

    There are numerous reasons to run background checks. Another common survey response was that businesses screen candidates to improve the quality of their hires. A background report can confirm a person's identity, employment and educational history. Employers use this information to see if an applicant is properly qualified for the position to which they are applying.

    Background checks are also used to verify mandatory licenses or credentials. They can be easily customized for any type of position in every industry. For example, employers who hire drivers can run a Motor Vehicle Record Search to confirm a candidate has the proper type of license and learn if they have reportable convictions, infractions or accidents. Employers in the medical industry can run a FACIS® Search to verify an applicant's qualifications and ensure they are not banned from participating in federally funded healthcare programs or from being awarded federal contracts.

    When Do Employer's Run Background Checks?

    The study showed that 86% of respondents initiate the screening process following a successful interview. Nearly 55% stated that they only run background checks after extending a conditional offer. In both scenarios, the employer is looking for the facts they need to make the best hiring decisions.

    If the results of a background check are clear, the candidate is likely to get hired. If the results raise concerns that cause the employer to consider denying employment, then the applicant must receive a pre-adverse notification, a copy of their report and a document that lists their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. When this happens, the applicant must then have time to review their report and file a dispute if necessary.

    Are Background Checks Affordable?

    Background checks can be customized to suit specific positions and accommodate budgets. A basic screening package starts at $29.95 and Custom Background Checks are priced based on the searches they include.

    At Backgrounds Online, we think of background checks as an essential investment into the safety and success of every business. As the study showed, they are used to create a safe working environment and to improve the quality of hires. Not running background checks can be a far more costly and problematic situation.

    Hiring someone who is not qualified can lead to a multitude of unexpected costs. Every employer invests time and money into hiring and onboarding people. If a new employee doesn't work out because they lack the background or education they need to succeed, the employer must go through that process again.

    Hiring someone who has a history of violent criminal activities can damage a business' reputation and, in worst-case scenarios, lead to a hostile or dangerous work environment. The potential outcome of this scenario cannot be quantified.

    That's why, out of more than 1,500 employers surveyed by, the vast majority ran background checks on all prospective employees. These reports involve a small one-time cost that provide real, ongoing benefits and reduce the risk of unexpected expenses.

    Have Questions?

    The screening experts at Backgrounds Online are FCRA-certified and here to help. We are available Monday through Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.

    If you have questions or would like to discuss your background screening needs, please contact us.

  • An FCRA-Based Lawsuit Could Have More Than 40,000 Plaintiffs

    August 9, 2017
    When a California man learned he was denied employment due to information that should not have been in his background check, he took action.
    Backgrounds Online | August 9, 2017

    When a California man learned he was denied employment due to information that should not have been in his background check, he took action.

    What Prompted the Lawsuit

    According to an article published by JD Supra Publications, a California resident applied for work at a large company in 2011. He received a preliminary hire approval and was asked to report to an orientation. Later he was told to not show up.

    No explanation was given, so the man contacted his potential employer. He learned that he'd been denied employment due to a criminal record on his background check. There were three problems with this scenario.

    Before his background check could be run, the man had to sign a disclosure and authorization document. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) stipulates that these authorization and disclosures, which are used to confirm an individual authorizes a report, must be provided in a standalone document. The document cannot contain any additional content, waivers or other information. The lawsuit alleges that the authorization included a liability waiver - a statement that said the applicant understands all employment decisions are based on legitimate and non-discriminatory reasons.

    Although the applicant was convicted of a crime in 1998, he later had this record expunged. By 2010, that record could not legally be included on a background check. If this conviction was divulged on the background check, that constitutes another FCRA violation.

    The third problem was the way the applicant was denied employment. He was not informed that the employer was considering an adverse action and therefore had no opportunity to review his background check. The FCRA stipulates that a consumer must receive pre-adverse notification, a copy of their report and a summary of their rights. Consumers must then have a "reasonable" amount of time to review and respond. Had this happened, the man could have informed the employer about the mistake on his report and taken steps to get it resolved.

    When he learned why he was denied employment, the applicant initiated a dispute. By that time, the employer was no longer hiring.

    Potential Impact of the Class Action Suit

    This lawsuit could have a massive financial impact on the employer. Since the plaintiff initiated a class action suit, everyone who had a similar experience was eligible to participate.

    There were two ways for potential plaintiffs to join. Anyone who signed the authorization and disclosure, which allegedly contained additional content, had the right to take part. Nearly 42,000 people were deemed eligible for this group. People who were denied employment without first having an opportunity to review their background check could also sign on. This group included about 715 individuals.

    The FCRA allows for statutory damages of $100 to $1,000 for every violation. If the plaintiffs win, this employer could face substantial monetary penalties.

    Why This Matters to Your Business

    As more FCRA-based lawsuits are filed against employers, more job-seekers become aware of their right to sue. That makes it critical for every employer to be aware of and compliant with federal and state laws that cover the hiring process.

    The FCRA is intended to protect consumers. The laws it creates are meant to ensure that people who seek jobs, credit and other necessities are treated fairly. Business must comply with these laws to avoid the threat of legal action and large fines.

    To help ensure compliance, it is best practice to document your screening and hiring policies – and review them periodically to ensure they are up-to-date. It is also advisable to document each hiring phase, including details about why candidates were denied employment. If an applicant is denied employment based on their background check, it's also a good idea to document what led to the decision, when the candidate was notified and what was done to ensure FCRA compliance.

    The screening experts at Backgrounds Online are all FCRA-certified. We watch for new laws that cover the screening process and provide information to help our customers remain compliant. If you have questions about how we can help you, please contact us today.

  • A New Study Shows Ban the Box Policies Are Working

    August 2, 2017
    According to a recent study, Ban the Box laws are helping job seekers who have minor criminal records without increasing discriminatory practices.
    Backgrounds Online | August 2, 2017

    According to a recent study, Ban the Box laws are helping job seekers who have minor criminal records without increasing discriminatory practices.

    Terry-Ann Craigie, an Assistant Professor of Economics at Connecticut College, published the results of this study in January, 2017. It advocates Ban the Box laws and suggests they increase the probability that individuals with minor convictions will be able to obtain employment.

    Ban the Box Laws Are Spreading

    Some job applications include a question that asks if the applicant was ever convicted of a crime. If the answer is yes, the job seeker must check a box. This box allows employers to immediately see if the person has ever incurred a criminal record. Ban the Box laws prohibit questions about criminal convictions on applications and call for the removal of these checkboxes.

    The movement to Ban the Box has grown exponentially in recent years. The National Employment Law Project (NELP) notes that more than 150 cities in 28 states have adopted Ban the Box laws. Similar laws are expected to be passed in additional cities and states.

    Ban the Box laws are designed to help people find employment if they have minor criminal convictions on their records. The goal is to prevent employers from automatically disqualifying candidates with minor or irrelevant convictions without first conducting interviews and learning more about each applicant. Although many people see these laws as a positive step forward, there are critics.

    Criticisms of Ban the Box

    One criticism of Ban the Box is that there are no standard guidelines. Laws have been implemented in numerous locations and there have been scenarios in which local regulations conflict with state or federal laws. This can make it difficult for employers to comply.

    A few studies have concluded that Ban the Box laws can prevent some demographic groups from receiving employment opportunities. A study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, suggested that these laws inadvertently lead to discriminatory practices against the people they are designed to help.

    These conclusions stem from a concern that employers might make assumptions about the names of their candidates. Ban the Box critics caution that hiring managers could see names that are commonly associated with Hispanic or African-American men and make uneducated guesses about whether or not each person has a conviction. If that happens, people might not be considered for employment based on nothing more than their name.

    The study published by Terry-Ann Craigie of Connecticut College disagrees with those conclusions.

    About the Study

    Craigie used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which followed the lives of almost 9,000 people born between 1980 and 1984. All the participants have been interviewed biennially about their education, employment history, criminal records and other topics.

    Results of these interviews, along with additional research and data, helped Craigie reach the conclusion that Ban the Box laws have helped individuals who have minor criminal convictions. In her 44-page document, the author finds numerous positives stemming from the Ban the Box movement. It proclaims that these laws have led to a 40% increase in the probability that individuals with criminal records will find employment in the public sector.

    Craigie's study also investigated the issue of statistical discrimination. In direct contrast to what critics have said, Craigie concluded that Ban the Box laws do not discriminate against any demographic group.

    What This Means for Employers

    Studies that support Ban the Box laws could encourage more cities and states to adopt similar policies. These laws impact the hiring process.

    Employers must be aware of laws that cover employment and background screening policies in areas where they operate. Businesses with locations in multiple cities and states must comply with laws that are in effect wherever they hire and host employees. Failing to follow relevant laws could lead to class action lawsuits, fines and other issues.

    It is best practice for employers to document their hiring policies and watch for new laws that will affect their business. When relevant laws are passed, it is equally important to update that documentation and make sure everyone who participates in the hiring process is informed.

    If you have questions about Ban the Box laws or need assistance putting together a background screening plan, contact us for assistance. All of our screening specialists are FCRA-certified and ready to help with your background screening needs.

  • South Carolina Pushes for New Background Check Laws

    July 25, 2017
    Lawmakers recently proposed a bill that would require background checks and follow-ups for state-licensed workers who deal with the public.
    Backgrounds Online | July 25, 2017

    Lawmakers recently proposed a bill that would require background checks and follow-ups for state-licensed workers who deal with the public.

    The Proposed Bill

    Bill Sandifer, Chairman of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, sponsored the bill. Its purpose is to implement mandatory background checks for individuals who need state-issued licenses for their careers. This includes pharmacists, hairdressers, medical examiners and other professionals.

    The bill went to the House and was approved by a large margin. It was rejected by the Senate, but could be considered again at a later date. Sandifer hopes the bill will be made into law when the Senate reconvenes in January.

    What Caused the Discussion

    This bill was prompted by the terrifying story of a man named Todd Kohlhepp. He was arrested in South Carolina following a missing person investigation. Police officers were dispatched to Kohlhepp's property and when they arrived, they found the victim locked in a metal box. She had been imprisoned there for two months.

    Kohlhepp owned a home in Moore, South Carolina. The property was searched thoroughly based on a tip from the person Kohlhepp had kidnapped. She told authorities that she had reason to believe multiple bodies were buried on the grounds. A search that lasted several days confirmed her statement.

    Prior to his arrest, Kohlhepp worked as a self-employed Real Estate Agent. Despite having a criminal background, he was granted a license in 2006. After receiving his license, Kohlhepp opened TKA Real Estate and ran the business from his home.

    In February, 2017, Kohlhepp was convicted of murder and various other charges. He was sentenced to serve seven consecutive life sentences plus an additional 60 years. The option for parole at any point was denied.

    A New Law for Real Estate Agents

    While still a minor, Kohlhepp was found guilty of serious crimes including rape and kidnapping. In 1987, he was sentenced to serve 15 years in an Arizona prison. He was released in 2001 and had no other known arrests until 2016.

    News about the kidnapping and murders shocked the South Carolina community where Kohlhepp lived. His story raised an important question: how was he granted a real estate license with his serious criminal history?

    Lawmakers set out to establish new regulations for real estate agents. They recently passed a bill that will require South Carolina residents to undergo a background check before receiving a real estate license. Licensed agents will also have to submit to fingerprinting and follow-up screenings every six years. This applies to everyone who wishes to renew their license, whether they were initially screened or not.

    The new bill was sponsored by Representative Chip Huggins. It goes into effect at the beginning of 2020. According to Higgins, this bill is intended to help prevent another tragedy like the one that occurred in South Carolina.

    If You Have Employees Who Work with the Public

    It is essential to make sure your employees are properly screened before they are allowed to work with the public. If your employees will spend time in someone's home, offer rides to customers or have access to vulnerable individuals, then best practice is to implement ongoing screenings.

    Backgrounds Online can help you establish recurring screenings for your employees. All we need to get started are the names and email addresses for each person. We'll schedule the screenings and alert your employees in advance so they can provide consent.

    Regular screenings help you establish and maintain a secure and reputable work environment for your employees and customers. If you have questions about running background checks or recurring screenings, contact our staff today for expert assistance.

  • Raymond James Financial Sued for Alleged FCRA Violation

    July 18, 2017
    A man who applied to sell Raymond James financial products is suing the company over alleged violations in their background screening process.
    Backgrounds Online | July 18, 2017

    A man who applied to sell Raymond James financial products is suing the company over alleged violations in their background screening process.

    The Background Investigation

    Dustin Kampert is initiating a class action lawsuit against Raymond James Financial, Inc. He claims the company willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

    Kampert started working at Hake Investment Group LLC in 2015. One of his job duties required him to sell Raymond James financial products. Before he could begin, Kampert had to register with Raymond James and undergo a background check.

    A third-party prepared a background check on Kampert. The finished report contained criminal records. After seeing this, representatives from Raymond James reportedly denied Kampert's request to sell their products. This later caused Kampert to lose his job with Hake Investment Group.

    The Lawsuit

    According to Kampert, the criminal records that were included on his report had been expunged in 2008. If that is the case, then they should not have been available on any consumer report. Kampert also alleges that he did not receive a copy of his background report before an adverse action, denial of the ability to sell the financial products, occurred.

    In a statement, Kampert wrote: "Raymond's willful disregard of its duties violates the FCRA as a matter of law, and it exacts serious consequences on job applicants and interstate commerce." He believes that Raymond James knew, or at least should have known their obligations under the FCRA. Therefore, he concluded, the company is guilty of a willful violation.

    Kampert initiated the lawsuit against Raymond James, but hopes he won't be alone. He is trying to find others who may have had similar experiences. If he is successful, then the potential charges and fines against Raymond James could grow significantly.

    FCRA Regulations

    Based on Kampert's accusations, there are two FCRA violations in this scenario.

    The FCRA says criminal records that have been sealed or expunged may not be included on any consumer report. If Kampert's criminal records were expunged at any point, then they should not have been displayed on his background check. Consumer reporting agencies are required to make efforts to ensure that only reportable data is included in a background check.

    People make mistakes. If the company that compiled Kampert's background check inadvertently included data that should not have been available, then he should have had the opportunity to dispute the results of his report. FCRA law states that a consumer must have an opportunity to review their consumer report before any adverse action occurs.

    Kampert should have received a copy of his report, a summary of his rights under the FCRA and a letter that explained an adverse action (not allowing him to see the financial products) was being considered. However, according to the lawsuit, none of that happened.

    Keep Your Business Compliant

    It is imperative for every business to be aware of and comply with FCRA regulations. We've seen a recent increase in lawsuits based on alleged FCRA violations. That makes it more important than ever to work with a background check provider that helps keep you compliant throughout the screening process.

    All of the screening experts at Backgrounds Online are FCRA-certified. We compile background checks that contain reportable data you can use to make informed business decisions. If you have questions about background checks or the screening process, please contact us for assistance.

  • We Enhanced Your Backgrounds Online Account

    July 11, 2017
    Our team has been making exciting changes to the website. We are enhancing the site to create a better experience for you. Recent updates include...
    Backgrounds Online | July 11, 2017

    Our team has been making exciting changes to the website. We are enhancing the site to create a better experience for you. Recent updates include:

    We Added a New Search to Every Screening Package

    Backgrounds Online offers four convenient background check packages to help address all of your screening needs. We recently added the Terrorist Watch List Search to each one. This is a complimentary addition. We did not raise the price on any screening product.

    A Terrorist Watch List Search is used to identify individuals who are wanted for or have been convicted of terrorist activities. It consists of a search through multiple national and international databases. When you run any of our background check packages, this search is now included at no additional charge.

    Updated My Account Page

    Log in to your Backgrounds Online account to see your updated account page. It offers quick links to order new background checks, view your current reports, create Custom Background Checks and more. The page also provides links to your most recently ordered reports along with the current status of each one.

    Your account page includes a snippet of our latest blog entry so you can see the news and information we've prepared for you. We publish a new blog each week with information about compliance, FCRA regulations and other issues that affect your business.

    Remodeled Report Manager

    We're excited for you to see the enhancements we made to your Report Manager. The page has a sleek new look that makes it even easier to review, find and file your reports. You'll see the status of each report so you know if it is complete or close to being finished.

    We also updated the Completed, In Process, Needs Attention, Needs Review and Review tabs to make them easier to navigate and manage. You can quickly and easily move reports from one tab to another. For example, place a report in the Needs Review tab to indicate that you need to come back to it later. Once it is reviewed, quickly move it to either the Reviewed or Completed tab so you know it does not require further action.

    Order Reports

    Visit the updated Order Reports page to see all it has to offer. You can select one of our recently enhanced background check packages, click to create a Custom Background Check with all the searches you need for any position or order a single report.

    We also added a link to our API section. Take advantage of our API to order reports from your own system. This creates a seamless flow that delivers results directly to you using our simple XML. It's easy to implement so you can get started right away.

    Have Questions?

    If you need assistance or have questions, click the My Account link at the top right corner. From there you can click the Support link to see direct contact information for your account manager; click to view and update your account details; visit our Resources section; or log out.

    Thank You for Visiting

    We hope you'll enjoy our recent updates. We're working on even more enhancements to provide the best screening experience possible.

    If you have questions about the site updates, your account or backgrounds checks, please contact us for assistance. We're here Monday - Friday from 5am to 5pm (PST) to help you.

  • Auditing Connecticut's Screening Policy for Daycare Workers

    June 27, 2017
    The Connecticut-based Auditors of Public Accounts are concerned that current screening policies could allow people with serious criminal records to work with children.
    Backgrounds Online | June 27, 2017

    The Connecticut-based Auditors of Public Accounts are concerned that current screening policies could allow people with serious criminal records to work with children.

    The Auditors Concern

    A recent article in the New Haven Register boldly begins with: "Could a felon look after your child at day care?" It quickly admits that is unlikely, but the message is clear. There is deep concern about the background screening process for daycare workers in Connecticut.

    This article was prompted by the results of an audit on screening policies at child care facilities. The audit revealed that applicants are screened, but the background check process takes 150 days on average. State law allows for people to start working before their reports are completed.

    Because of this law, people have been hired to work with children before anyone learned whether or not they had criminal convictions. Some individuals were employed for a few months before their report was available.

    What the Auditors Recommend

    John Geragosian is a State Auditor who reviewed the screening policies at Connecticut-based daycare centers. He believes that applicants should have to wait until their background reports are reviewed and approved before they're authorized to work with children. Geragosian expressed concern that people with serious criminal histories could have unsupervised time with minors.

    The recent audit wasn't the first time these concerns were voiced. Geragosian wrote about this several times following previous audits. This situation was also brought up in the Annual Reports to the Connecticut General Assembly and even referenced in proposed legislation.

    A recent bill included this statement: "No such prospective employee shall have unsupervised access to children in the childcare center or group child care home until such comprehensive background is completed and the Commissioner of Early Childhood permits such prospective employee to work in such childcare center or group childcare home." That bill, however, did not pass.

    The Need for Workers

    Catherine Ferraro runs a childcare center in Connecticut. She was surprised by the length of time it takes to complete a background investigation on potential workers. Ferraro also discussed an ongoing need for workers in that industry.

    According to Ferraro, new workers are needed immediately. The people who run these facilities cannot wait more than 100 days for a background check to be processed. Which prompts the question - why do these screenings take so long?

    A potential explanation is that the Connecticut childcare system does not have a standardized method for screening candidates. Applicants go through three different screenings that are conducted by separate agencies. Collecting and compiling the results of all three, it seems, can be a lengthy process.

    Potential Solutions

    The people who run daycare centers in CT are trying to create internal solutions. One option is to have each facility run a criminal background check on potential employees. This would allow them to see if an applicant has a relevant conviction before making a final hiring decision.

    The state might be able to help as well. A recently proposed bill includes language that says no person will be allowed to have unsupervised access to children at any daycare of similar facility until their background check is reviewed. People could still be hired at locations that provide child care, but hey would not be left alone with minors until they were screened and cleared.

    Another section of the bill calls for ongoing screenings for all daycare workers. Anyone who works at a facility would be asked to approve a background investigation every five years. This would allow facility managers to find out if someone who works for them incurs a new criminal conviction of which they should be aware.

    The Background Screening Process

    Most background checks take 3 to 5 days to complete. These reports show employers if an applicant has reportable criminal convictions and contain facts that help hiring manager make informed decisions. Annual or recurring screenings are useful for existing employees. They are used to confirm whether or not current staff members remain eligible for employment.

    If you have questions about background checks or the screening process, please contact us for assistance. We're here Monday – Friday from 5am to 5pm PT and ready to help.

  • Indiana Prohibits Local Ban the Box Laws in Favor of State Law

    June 20, 2017
    Local government agencies will not be allowed to create Ban the Box related laws. Instead, IN employers must follow laws that are passed by the state.
    Backgrounds Online | June 20, 2017

    Local government agencies will not be allowed to create Ban the Box related laws. Instead, IN employers must follow laws that are passed by the state.

    About Ban the Box

    Ban the Box is a policy that was developed to help people with minor criminal convictions find employment. Some job applications ask if the person has ever been convicted of any crime. If the answer is yes, the person is required to check a box. If an applicant checks this box, they probably won't receive further consideration, even if their conviction was minor or irrelevant to the position.

    The primary purpose of the Ban the Box movement is to remove such questions from job applications. Proponents believe this will give millions of people a better chance at finding work. More candidates would go through the initial hiring and interview process and those that pass would be asked to consent to a background screening.

    A background check shows criminal convictions that are reportable, meaning they can legally be used to make business decisions. This gives employers the data they need to make educated decisions. At that point an employer could consider a candidate's strengths and history to decide if a pre-adverse action is necessary.

    Why Indiana Implemented This Bill

    Numerous cities and states have implemented Ban the Box laws, but they are not consistent. It can be difficult for employers to comply with all relevant laws because they may vary drastically from one location to another. Indiana's new bill hopes to fix this issue.

    Senate Bill 312 prohibits local government agencies from developing and passing their own Ban the Box laws. Governor Eric Holcomb signed the Bill and it goes into effect on July 1, 2017. When it does, businesses that operate in Indiana must be aware of and follow state laws that cover the background screening process.

    What This Means for Indiana Based Employers

    This new law is expected to help create a smoother and easier hiring flow for employers in the Hoosier state. Without it, Indiana businesses would need to check for local laws that are in place anywhere they operate.

    As of July 1, Indiana-based employers will have to follow state mandated laws. This eliminates the difficulty of keeping up with differing laws that are passed in various cities. It also creates a consistent process for job seekers and is expected to help many people find employment.

    Indiana employers should prepare for the changes that come with Bill 312.

    Your Hiring Policies

    Every employer must be aware of Ban the Box and related laws that are in effect wherever they operate. Not following these laws could lead to lawsuits and other legal issues. We recommend fully documenting your entire screening process and updating it when existing laws change or new bills are passed.

    The screening staff at Backgrounds Online works diligently to keep up with laws that impact our customers. Your account manager can help you create Custom Background Check Packages that include the searches you need to make informed decisions while you remain compliant with local and federal regulations.

    If you have questions or need assistance, please contact us today.

  • Lawsuit Claims Macy's Screening Policies are Discriminatory

    June 13, 2017
    A lawsuit that was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims Macy's background screening policies discriminate against minorities.
    Backgrounds Online | June 13, 2017

    A lawsuit that was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims Macy's background screening policies discriminate against minorities.

    A Three-Pronged Complaint

    Outten & Golden LLP filed the suit on May 17, 2017. They alleged that Macy's has three prominent issues with their screening policies. Their first claim is that the company asks job applicants to disclose criminal convictions for an overly long period of time. There are laws that detail how long criminal convictions can be included on consumer reports.

    A second complaint suggests that Macy's asks applicants to disclose convictions that should not be revealed or considered during the hiring process. Various federal and state laws discuss what types of criminal records can be used to help make employment-related decisions. According to the suit, Macy's may have been asking for information that they could not legally request.

    The third complaint states that Macy's did not take "mitigating circumstances" into consideration. Examples of circumstances the retailer is accused of not considering include time served and rehabilitation.

    What Led to the Lawsuit

    Outten & Golden LLP helps people who have criminal records to reintegrate into society. Their website states that they are "advocates for workplace fairness, our passion and our profession is to help advance the goals of employees and protect their rights against injustices in the workplace."

    Members of the firm investigated the screening policies that Macy's uses during their hiring process. Attorney Ossai Miazad said that their policies have a "disparate impact on black, Latino and male job seekers." Miazad helped initiate the lawsuit, which alleges that numerous applicants were turned away even though their criminal convictions occurred many years ago or are irrelevant for the positions to which they were applying.

    The Movement to Help People with Criminal Histories

    There are several ongoing efforts to help Americans with criminal records find jobs. In the past, this has a problem for thousands of individuals. Even minor convictions have prevented people from obtaining employment.

    Concepts such as Ban the Box are intended to help people who have minor criminal convictions. The goal is to remove questions such as "Do you have a criminal record?" from job applications. If an applicant indicates they have a conviction, they are unlikely to receive further consideration. Even if the conviction occurred while the applicant was a minor or was not relevant to the employer's interests.

    In 2015, the White House launched the Fair Chance Business Pledge. It asks businesses to ban the box and take other steps to "make sure Americans who've paid their debt to society can earn their second chance."

    The attorneys at Outten & Golden LLP also focus on issues that negatively impact job seekers, employees, executives and other individuals. Their practice covers a wide range of workplace-related issues.

    What You Should Know about Criminal Background Checks

    Fairness is a hot topic in regards to background screening. Multiple laws are in place to help establish fair and consistent hiring practices. Businesses should be aware of Ban the Box and other relevant laws that exist in any location where they hire and have active employees.

    Adhering to these federal and state laws may seem difficult, but the screening experts at Backgrounds Online are ready to help. If you have questions or need assistance with putting together a Custom Background Check, please contact our friendly and experienced team.

  • A Class Action Lawsuit Over Inaccurate Background Information

    June 6, 2017
    A woman applied for a nursing job in Booneville, Indiana, but was turned down. When she found out why, she initiated a class action lawsuit.
    Backgrounds Online | June 6, 2017

    A woman applied for a nursing job in Booneville, Indiana, but was turned down. When she found out why, she initiated a class action lawsuit.

    Unexpected Background Check Results

    Michele Petry is a Nurse who hoped to work at Cathedral Health Care Centers. Her interview went well. She was given a provisional job offer, pending the results of a background investigation. Petry waited for the final decision and it was not what she expected. Employment was denied. The reason provided was that her background investigation uncovered multiple felonies.

    According to Petry, her record is clean. Her background report, however, showed crimes such as theft and possession of drug paraphernalia. A representative of Cathedral Health Care Centers told her she was not eligible for hire. Petry claims she never received a copy of her report and company that compiled it has not been identified.

    The Lawsuit

    Petry launched a class action lawsuit again Cathedral Health Care Centers. It alleged that she was wrongfully denied employment and did not have an opportunity to review her report before an adverse action was taken. This goes against FCRA regulations.

    The details of the lawsuit are not known to us at this time, but class action suits can be costly and time consuming. This case will be reviewed at a U.S. District Court in Indiana, where they will make a decision about her allegations.

    How Could a Background Check Include Incorrect Information?

    There are various ways that a background check could include erroneous information. A Social Security Number could be entered incorrectly, so the report would contain results for the wrong person. In some cases, more than one person might be connected to the same Social Security Number. This is rare, but can happen when people apply for joint credit.

    It's also possible for a background check to contain information that is correct but not meant to be available to the public. This can happen if the person conducting an investigation does not follow due diligence and confirm that the records included on a background check are current and reportable.

    At Backgrounds Online, we have a team of specialists who take extra efforts to ensure that every background check provides information about the right person. We also have security checks in place to make sure our reports only include valid, authenticated records that are publicly available.

    Protecting Your Business

    One of the best ways to protect your business is to work with an NAPBS Accredited Consumer Reporting Agency. Backgrounds Online is proud to be accredited, and every member of our team who participates in the screening process has their FCRA certification. We go the extra mile to help protect you.

    It's equally important to follow the adverse action procedure that was established by the FCRA. This involves issuing pre-adverse notices; giving people a copy of their report and time to review; establishing a dispute process; and, when applicable, providing a final adverse notification.

    Every Backgrounds Online customer has free access to sample pre-adverse and adverse action letters. They are available within your Resource Center. Use them and follow FCRA guidelines throughout the screening process.

    The team at Backgrounds Online is happy to answer questions about adverse actions or any other aspect of the screening process. If you need assistance, please contact us.

  • Man with a Felony Record Becomes a VP in PA... For One Day

    May 30, 2017
    Freddie Dean Smith was issued an emergency citation to fill in as a Vice Principal. Soon after, school officials learned about his criminal history.
    Backgrounds Online | May 30, 2017

    Freddie Dean Smith was issued an emergency citation to fill in as a Vice Principal. Soon after, school officials learned about his criminal history.

    Investigating a New Hire

    After hearing that Freddie Dean Smith was asked to fill in as Vice President of a Pennsylvania High School, one resident decided to research his past. What the resident discovered prompted them to contact a local news team. Based on that call, a team representative launched a background investigation. It showed that Smith had a felony conviction for eluding police in 2002 and contained other items that caused concern.

    According to Philadelphia Action News, Smith was also charged with sexual-based crimes in 2001 and 2003. Whether or not those charges led to convictions is unclear. The news team also learned about one man who is determined to spread the word about Smith's past.

    Writer with a Mission

    Robert Cox, a writer for the online publication Talk of the Sound in New Rochelle, New York, has written about Freddie Dean Smith numerous times. Cox authors additional articles when he sees news that confirms Smith has obtained employment within another educational facility. He eagerly spoke to a member of the Philadelphia News Team.

    Cox claimed that Smith was denied a teaching certification in Maryland and Virginia. He also alleged that Smith was banned from working at or with schools in New Jersey or New York. The writer said that despite his record, Smith somehow slips through the cracks and finds jobs at educational facilities.

    According to Cox, Smith should not be allowed to work with children. He has called on media outlets throughout the country to run their own investigations into Smith's past. Smith has had multiple jobs at public schools. Cox hopes to prevent this from happening again.

    Smith's Latest Job

    In May 2017, Freddie Dean Smith was hired at Chester High School. Initially, the plan was to bring him on for a six-week period at the end of a semester. Before Smith started, the Principal left and the Vice Principal was promoted.

    Smith was granted an emergency citation to fill the Vice Principal position temporarily. School officials had started a background check on Smith, but did not have the results yet. His first and only day on the job was May 2, 2017.


    After day one, the results of Smith's background check were returned. The report included details of a criminal past. Smith was dismissed immediately.

    The school issued a statement that read: "Mr. Smith was only with the school district for one day as per diem assistant principal. He took part in training sessions, during which he had no unsupervised contact with students. He is no longer with the district. As always, the safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority."

    This statement also stipulated that the school district runs background checks on all new employees before their employment begins. After it was issued, Superintendent Dr. Juan Baughn reportedly said this about Smith: "He is not around our kids. He is not around our kids. He is not here."

    What You Should Know About Criminal Background Checks

    Criminal background checks provide information about convictions that are reportable. If an arrest does not lead to a conviction and the case is dismissed, it will not be reported in a background check. Convictions that later become sealed or expunged are also not allowed to be included in background checks or other consumer reports.

    When running background checks on people who might work at schools, we suggest a National Criminal Database Search in addition to local searches. If records are found anywhere in the country, they are confirmed with a County Criminal Court Search. This ensures accuracy as the data comes directly from the court where a case was handled.

    Learn more about our screening recommendations for the education industry.

  • Proposed Florida Law Would Seal Non-Conviction Arrest Records

    May 23, 2017
    A recently drafted FL bill calls for arrest records to be sealed if the subject was not convicted. It is expected to be signed by Governor Rick Scott.
    Backgrounds Online | May 23, 2017

    A recently drafted FL bill calls for arrest records to be sealed if the subject was not convicted. It is expected to be signed by Governor Rick Scott.

    About The Bill

    The purpose of the bill is to allow people who were never convicted to have their arrest records permanently sealed. If that happens, then those records could not legally be used in background checks or other consumer reports. This bill would also forbid businesses that post mugshots online from charging people who were found innocent to have their photos removed. Currently, most of these sites have a fee for mugshot removal.

    Both the House and Senate unanimously supported and voted for this bill. Now it's up Florida Governor Rick Scott. As of late April, the bill was still under review.

    Why This Bill Was Introduced

    Existing Florida law does not allow people to have their arrest records sealed if they aren't convicted. Therefore, people who were declared not guilty still have public records that show they were arrested and accused of a crime.

    Florida State Representative Scott Plakon supports the proposed law. He believes it will help people who received a not guilty verdict or had charges dropped. Plakon suggests that this bill will make it easier for people find employment, rent apartments and accomplish other common tasks without being hindered by an arrest record.

    Apt Example

    The Orlando Sentinel ran an article that showed an example of someone who could positively benefit from the passing of this bill. Demarquis Prince had been working at a local fast food establishment, but was fired by his manager Dexter Hughley. Not long after this occurred, Hughley was shot multiple times. When questioned by the police, Hughley pointed out Prince as the Shooter. Prince was arrested.

    Several months later, Hughley admitted that Prince was not the shooter. Although Prince was set free, his arrest record is still publicly available. If the new bill passes, then Prince and would have the right to get his arrest records permanently sealed. These records would be sealed automatically. Prince, and anyone else who qualifies, would have to submit a request to start the process.

    Another potential benefit for Prince would be the ability to have his mugshot removed from any websites at no charge. If a company that ran one of these sites refused to comply, Prince could file a lawsuit against them. The bill stipulates that businesses would be required to remove a mugshot within ten days or they could be fined $1,000 daily.

    What You Should Know About Criminal Records In Background Checks

    When you run a background check, you are looking for current, relevant data. These reports are used to help make employment, credit and other business-related decisions. Accuracy is paramount.

    Background checks can only legally display criminal records that are deemed reportable to the public. Records that have been sealed or expunged may not be included on any consumer report.

    If you need background checks to help make business-related decisions, contact Backgrounds Online. We make efforts to keep up with laws that impact our customers in every state. Our team is dedicated to building useful background checks that contain reportable data you can use when screening current or potential employees.