Backgrounds Online Blog

  • Chicago Public Schools Will Rescreen Adult Employees

    July 10, 2018
    Adult employees and volunteers who interact with students will be background screened before the next school season begins.
    Backgrounds Online | July 10, 2018

    Every adult employee or volunteer who has interactions with students will be background screened before the next school season begins.

    The Reason For These Screenings

    The goal is to create a safer environment for students in Chicago. CEO of the Chicago Public School District (CPSD), Dr. Janice K Jackson, said: “Creating a safer school district for our students means doing everything possible to ensure our students are surrounded by trustworthy adults.” and “I want parents to have comfort that all of the adults in our schools will safeguard their children, and this is an important and necessary step toward rebuilding the faith and trust that our parents have in their school district.”

    An article in the Chicago Times revealed a startling number of sexual abuse cases have been reported in Chicago schools. During a ten-year period, more than 500 cases of juvenile assault and abuse were investigated. According to the article: “Ineffective background checks exposed students to educators with criminal convictions and arrests for sex crimes against children. And the CPSD failed to disclose to other districts that past employees had resigned after investigators found credible evidence of abuse and harassment.”

    Chicago residents were shocked to learn about this tragedy. This article helped prompt the CPSD to initiate an unprecedented round of background screenings for existing staff. The district is determined to demonstrate that they are actively taking steps to protect students who attend Chicago schools.

    Who Will Be Screened?

    According to a Press Release from the CPSD, every adult employee who works with students will be screened. This includes:

    · Teachers
    · Coaches
    · Volunteers
    · Cafeteria Workers
    · Vendors
    · Other Staff

    Additional Precautions

    To provide an additional level of security and help restore faith in the school district, the following policies are also being implemented:

    · All employees will be screened periodically to watch for new arrests or convictions.
    · Everyone who wants to be involved in the school sports program, such as coaches and volunteers, will be put through a training and eligibility process first.
    · The CPSD will create an inventory of all vendors, coaches and volunteers to help ensure that every person in each department has been screened and approved to work with students.

    The Importance Of Annual Screenings

    While not every business hires individuals who will work directly with young people, most businesses have employees who deal with clients, coworkers and the public. It is important for employers to take steps to promote a safe work environment and be able to demonstrate that they are performing due diligence during their hiring process. One of the most critical components is for employers to run background checks on all applicants and ongoing criminal monitoring on all employees.

    Employers are encouraged to document their screening and hiring policies. This documentation should include details about what warrants denial of employment and termination. Having written policies will help employers show that they are taking reasonable precautions to promote safety.

    If you need help with your initial and ongoing screening efforts, please contact us. The team at Backgrounds Online is highly trained at putting together ideal screening packages for any position in every industry. We are available via phone, chat or email Monday through Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.

  • Washington Implements An Equal Pay Opportunity Act

    July 03, 2018
    Washington updated their existing gender pay law – which was established in 1943.
    Backgrounds Online | July 03, 2018

    The state of Washington recently passed a bill that updated their previous gender pay law – which was established in 1943.

    About The Act

    Representative Tana Senn, an active proponent for equal pay laws, sponsored the Equal Pay Opportunity Act (EPOA) to address a gender-based disparity in Washington. The Act requires WA-based employers to offer equal compensation for people who are “similarly employed”, meaning they have similar duties and responsibilities under similar work conditions. It also requires employers to offer equal career advancement opportunities to workers of any gender.

    Inslee said: “This bill tears away the ability of companies to shroud salary and promotion decisions in secrecy. This makes it possible for employees to discuss how those decisions are being made without fear of retaliation.”

    Some wage gaps will not be considered discriminatory. Employers may offer different salaries to similarly employed individuals if:
    · They are not based on gender.
    · There are factors in play such as seniority, regional differences (to adjust for the cost of living) or education.
    · A genuine business necessity calls for varying salaries.

    Disclosing Wages

    While nothing in the EPOA prevents workers from discussing their own wages, it does prohibit them from discussing the wages of others. This could be an issue if an individual has access to salaries or details about different types of compensation earned by their co-workers. The only time revealing this information would be permissible is if it necessary to settle an investigation, charge or complaint.

    The EPOA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who choose to disclose their wages. It also prohibits retaliation if an employee files a discrimination complaint, encourages other workers to take advantage of new rights created by the EPOA or inquires about a lack of advancement opportunities.

    Violations Of The EPOA

    A violation of the EPOA is defined as any instance in which an employer does not provide equal salary for similarly employed individuals due to gender or participates in any other gender-based discriminatory practice.

    If an employee feels they have been discriminated against, they may file a complaint with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. The matter will then be investigated to determine whether or not a violation has occurred. When a violation is proven, the first step will be to try and reach an agreement with the employer. Should it become impossible to reach a resolution, then a citation may be issued and the employer could be accountable for actual and statutory damages or $5,000, whichever amount is greater, along with reasonable attorney’s fees.

    Takeaway For Employers

    Employers in Washington are urged to review their current policies to ensure they are compliant with the EPOA. If not, then those policies should be revised as soon as possible.

    At Backgrounds Online we stay focused on state, federal and local laws that affect our customers. If you have questions about how to improve your hiring and screening practices, please contact us. Our experienced team is here to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.

  • California Court Overturns A $1.2 Million Verdict

    June 26, 2018
    ​ A woman sued her employer for discrimination due to gender and pregnancy. She was awarded $1.2 million in a jury trial, but that was later overturned.
    Backgrounds Online | June 26, 2018

    A woman sued her employer for discrimination due to gender and pregnancy. She was awarded $1.2 million in a jury trial, but that was later overturned.

    About The Case

    In May 2010, a woman was hired as an in-house attorney. She had two young children and was pregnant at the time. According to a lawsuit filed by the woman, her supervisor stated that he was concerned this pregnancy might prevent her from properly handling all the duties that were part of the job.

    The attorney later took time off for medical leave. When she returned, she requested an office with a lock on the door and no windows. Her request was denied. This led to an incident in which a colleague entered her office while she was pumping breast milk. To prevent this from happening again, the woman purchased a lock and installed it herself.

    In 2012 the attorney was pregnant again. Sadly, she miscarried. After taking medical leave for one month, she returned to her job. When she did, her supervisor allegedly asked if she had plans to get pregnant again.

    A few months later, the woman was fired. She filed a lawsuit that claimed she had been discriminated and retaliated against due to her gender and the pregnancy. The suit claimed that her treatment caused an “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

    When the case was reviewed by a jury, they determined that the woman had been wrongfully terminated. The jury stated that pregnancy, maternity leave and gender were not acceptable reasons for termination. Jurors awarded the attorney $1.2 million in damages. They did not, however, find the employer guilty of any form of retaliation.

    The Verdict Is Overturned

    The employer was not satisfied with this decision and quickly filed an appeal. This case was revealed by an appellate court that ruled the plaintiff would only be entitled to remedies that are available through California’s workers’ compensation system. They noted that the workers' compensation exclusivity provisions typically apply when an employer/employee relationship includes criticism of job duties, negotiation of grievances, discipline or even termination.

    Because this case did not go through the workers' compensation system and the employer was not found guilty of retaliation, the jury’s decision was nullified. It was noted that employees may be awarded compensation for emotional distress but only when the case goes through proper channels and some form of discrimination or retaliation is proven.

    Takeaway For Employers

    At Backgrounds Online we often bring up the need for employers to create fair, non-discriminatory hiring practices. Similar policies should, of course, also extend to existing employees. Employers are encouraged to thoroughly document their policies and take steps to ensure they are followed at all times.

    While this $1.2 verdict was ultimately reversed, if an employer is found guilty of discriminatory behaviors or if they retaliate against an employee who notes an unfair practice, then it could be possible for one or more plaintiffs to file a lawsuit and be awarded a substantial compensation amount.

  • A CA Court Rules HomeAdvisor Ads Are Misleading

    June 19, 2018
    The company was accused of creating advertisements implying that contractors who are listed on their site have been screened.
    Backgrounds Online | June 19, 2018

    The company was accused of creating advertisements implying that contractors who are listed on their site have been screened.

    About The Lawsuit

    In March 2018, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office filed a lawsuit against HomeAdvisor. It alleged that the company’s radio and television ads were designed to make consumers believe that all the contractors listed on their site have passed a background check. According to the suit, only the people who own businesses that hire these workers have actually been screened.

    The suit called for HomeAdvisor to stop running these ads in California and to pay $2,500 fines for every violation of the Business and Professions Code. The case was heard by a judge in San Francisco.

    The Decision

    On Monday June 4, the judge ordered HomeAdvisor to stop running these advertisements. He also specified that HomeAdvisor ads can say the owners of businesses they partner with have been screened, but not all the people who work for those businesses.

    Representatives from HomeAdvisor announced they will appeal this decision. They issued a statement which said: “This legal matter is solely about how our background-check program is described in our advertising, not the merits of our rigorous background-check process, which leverages leading third-party services in combination with our own proprietary technologies. We disagree with the claims made in this case and have appealed the order. We continue to ensure that our advertising remains fair and accurate. We encourage all of our customers to learn more about HomeAdvisor’s background-check process by visiting: www.homeadvisor.com/ screening.”

    San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who initiated the lawsuit, was pleased with the outcome. He felt the HomeAdvisor ads were intentionally misleading and could cause California consumers to allow contractors who have not been screened into their homes. Gascón issued a statement which read: “HomeAdvisor needs to be honest about who they background-check, so that consumers are well-informed when deciding whether to allow strangers into their homes.”

    Transparent Screening

    At Backgrounds Online we strongly believe in the importance of following fair and transparent screening policies. This case provides a good example of why that is crucial. When consumers utilize the services of a business, they assume the company has performed due diligence and taken steps to help ensure their safety. A big part of this involves screening applicants and running annual screenings on employees. This is especially critical for contractors who will enter a person’s home, provide rideshare services or have access to sensitive data.

    Is your business doing everything possible to create a safe work environment, protect the public and earn the trust of your customers? Are you screening applicants before making job offers? Do you run annual criminal searches on your existing employees? Background checks are small investments that help protect the public, your reputation and the future of your business.

    If you have questions about whether or not your screening practices are sufficient, please contact us for assistance. Our team is highly educated on how to develop custom screening packages to accommodate any industry. We are available to help you Monday through Friday from 5am to 5pm Pacific Time.

  • #MeToo And The Need For Comprehensive Background Checks

    June 12, 2018
    Thousands of people participated in the #MeToo movement. It was an eye-opening experience that demonstrated why background checks are essential.
    Backgrounds Online | June 12, 2018

    Thousands of people participated in the #MeToo movement. It was an eye-opening experience that demonstrated why background checks are essential.

    About #MeToo

    The #MeToo concept is credited to Tarana Burke. She came up with the idea to show how prevalent sexual harassment is in America. Burke is said to have initially brought this up in 2006 but it did not take off until 2017. Things got moving when she mentioned it to some of her celebrity friends.

    On October 15 2017, actress Alyssa Milano referenced this topic on Twitter. She wrote: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Her message quickly went viral. Thousands of people responded to the Tweet and the hashtag soon appeared on other forms of social media.

    The Impact

    One purpose of the #MeToo movement was to show that sexual harassment occurs almost everywhere, including the workplace. Years ago, women often felt pressured to accept this or risk losing their careers. Today, however, the problem is being discussed and addressed. Harassment simply cannot continue to be allowable behavior.

    According to an article on the FindLaw blog, there are two forms of sexual harassment:

    Quid Pro Quo: When a person in a position of authority threatens adverse action or promises preferential treatment in order to gain some form of sexual activity.
    Hostile Work Environment: When an authority figure is made aware of sexual harassment in the workplace and does nothing.

    The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) states that sexual harassment can include: “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” It also stipulates that the law does not prohibit “simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious” but when such behaviors are persistent, they do constitute harassment.

    What Employers Should Consider

    Every employer should be aware of the possibility of harassment in the workplace and attentive to claims that are brought to them. Employers may wish to document policies that explain how such cases will be handled. Best practice is to have legal counsel review this written documentation before it is made official.

    Under most circumstances, instances of sexual harassment on the job are handled by the employer. If a case goes unresolved it can be brought to the EEOC. When this happens, an EEOC Agent will ask to review all documentation regarding the harassment claim. Therefore, employers are also advised to fully document any allegations that are brought to them along with the steps that were taken to investigate and resolve the matter.

    How Background Checks Can Help

    Running criminal background check on potential and existing employees is an exemplary way for employers to show they are performing due diligence and attempting to create a safe workplace. These reports show employers if an applicant has a reportable conviction that might make them ineligible for hire.

    No report can predict an individual’s future behavior, but a background check can show you if the person has been convicted of sexual harassment of if they have other criminal records of which you should be aware.

    If you have questions about background checks and how they can help you create a safe work environment, show you are aware and supportive of causes like #MeToo and make educated decisions, please contact us. Our highly trained staff is available Monday – Friday from 5am to 5pm.

  • An Unscreened Temp Worker Is Accused Of Identity Theft

    June 5, 2018
    When a banking company hired a temporary worker, they didn’t run a background check. The HR manager soon regretted this decision.
    Backgrounds Online | June 5, 2018

    When a banking company hired a temporary worker, they didn’t find it necessary to run a background check. The HR manager soon regretted this decision.

    Hired, But Not Screened

    HR Confidential, an online series created by CNBC Make It, shared a cautionary tale about a Human Resources manager who works for a banking company. The manager accepted a temp worker who’d been referred by a third-party agency. Once hired, the new employee was tasked with reviewing personnel files, adding data as necessary and putting those files away.

    There were numerous files to go through since the company has around 3,000 employees. The HR department was eager to get someone started on this important job. In their rush to begin, the banking company did not order a background screening for the temporary worker.

    Worrisome Reports

    The manager told HR Confidential that soon after the temp started, one of his employees had their identity stolen. Someone applied for credit cards using that employee’s name. Sadly, identity theft is a common crime in the United States. If nothing else had occurred, the manager would have simply filed a report and probably not thought much more about the incident.

    Within one week, however, a second employee approached the manager and said that their identity had been stolen. This caused the manager to become suspicious. When a third person brought a similar claim soon after, it became obvious that something was wrong.

    The Investigation

    At first, this situation was handled internally. The manager and a trusted team member reviewed the cases thoroughly. When they were unable to reach any conclusion, they hired a company that specializes in investigating fraud.

    The investigators requested information for every person who had access to employee files. They received the data they needed and proceeded to look through it for clues. One week later they returned - accompanied by the postmaster general and armed postal police officers. They only asked about one person: the temporary employee.

    Background Revelations

    The temp was brought in to the manager’s office, handcuffed and taken away. At first he denied any wrongdoing, but later he allegedly admitted that he’d stolen information from the personnel files and used it to sign up for credit cards. Soon after, the HR manager learned that the temp was already being investigated for similar cases of fraud.

    After this eye-opening incident, the manager explained that he learned two crucial lessons.
    First: he should have brought in the investigative company sooner. When dealing with a serious crime like identity theft, it’s best to act quickly.
    Second: he should have run a criminal background check before authorizing the temporary employee and giving him access to sensitive data. Background checks show relevant and reportable criminal charges. Employers can use this information to help create safe workspaces and make informed decisions.

    Takeaway For Employers

    It is essential for every employer to take steps to protect their staff, customers and the public. One important step is to run background checks on every person who will work on behalf of the company. This is true even if the worker has a temporary or contractor status.

    Backgrounds Online provides fair, transparent and compliant screening services that employers can use to help protect themselves and their employees. These reports can be fully customized to accommodate business in any industry and every type of worker.

    If you have questions about background screening or need help creating a custom screening package, please contact us. Our team is available Monday – Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.

  • A New Study Hopes To Help Recruiters And HR Personnel

    May 29, 2018
    HR Drive published an article that concluded many job seekers exaggerate on resumes to help land positions for which they may not be fully qualified.
    Backgrounds Online | May 8, 2018

    HR Drive published an article that concluded many job seekers exaggerate on their resumes to help them land positions for which they may not be fully qualified.

    The article offered suggestions to help hiring managers and recruiters get the facts they need to make the best decisions. It recommended watching for several tactics that are commonly used to enhance resumes.

    Potentially Misleading Comments

    According to the article, a large percentage of job seekers are not completely truthful when writing their resumes. Some are intentionally dishonest. Others may be a bit misleading to make themselves appear more qualified.

    One example of this is found with applicants who write somewhat ambiguous content. They might include statements such as: “I am familiar with (insert required skill set here).” In this scenario the applicant is not specifically stating they are experienced with and knowledgeable about the skill. They are merely confirming it is familiar to them. What this means could be open to interpretation.

    Another vague statement on resumes is often: “I am involved with (fill in the blank).” This type of comment does not provide much information. It could be used to mislead a hiring manager into thinking the individual meets a particular qualification, such as having a certain type of work experience, even if they do not.

    To combat this, recruiters and HR professionals may need to take extra time to understand exactly what a resume is or is not saying. If something seems vague it may warrant a follow-up question over the phone. The goal is to ensure that the contents of a resume are clear and understood.

    Exaggerations, Omissions And Red Flags

    Some job seekers get a little tricky when writing resumes. They might include exaggerations, such as suggesting they have more experience than they really do.

    Applicants may omit important pieces of information from their resume. One example can be found in the dates of employment. Instead of listing the month in which they started and ended a job, they may only provide the year. This is sometimes done to hide a potentially sizable gap in employment.

    Hiring managers and recruiters should also watch for red flags such as overly lavish language. According to the HR Drive article, many job seekers “overhype” elements of their resumes. This often includes the job title and list of daily responsibilities.

    Protecting Your Business

    One possible reason for the increase in resume exaggerations could be the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the hiring process. The HR Drive article suggested job seekers are aware that bots often do the first scan of every resume. Those bots are typically programmed to look for specific keywords and phrases. Savvy applicants know that including such terms on their resumes may increase their chances of landing an interview.

    One of the biggest keys to protecting your business is training the people who review resumes and conduct interviews. When hiring for a specific position, many businesses call upon existing employees who hold similar positions to participate in the interview process. While these employees may excel at their jobs; they are not necessarily trained on how to interview people. By providing basic training to anyone who will speak to your candidates, you can help ensure that your team is able to identify qualified personnel.

    During the interview process, your team should be taught to ask skill-related questions – and to follow-up. An applicant may know enough to adequately respond to a basic question about a specific skillset. A deeper dive via follow-up questions can reveal whether or not they have the knowledge they need to succeed.

    Why Verifications Matter

    Verifications are a crucial step in every hiring process. They help you determine whether or not an applicant truly meets your requirements. Rely on them to:
    · Confirm someone’s level of education.
    · Verify employment history.
    · Get professional opinions from colleagues and managers.
    · Find out if an applicant has a required license, credential or certification.

    Make Informed Decisions

    Every employer hopes to find people who will help their team succeed. That’s why it’s so important to determine what skills, education and other traits a person would need to succeed. Write clear, concise job descriptions that accurately convey your expectations before you start searching for applicants.

    When you receive resumes, review them with a critical eye. Make sure your team is trained to ask the right type of skill-related questions and follow-ups. Include relevant verifications in your background check package to get the facts you need to make educated choices.

    If you have questions about how Backgrounds Online can help you build strong teams, please contact us. Our highly trained staff is available to assist you Monday – Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.

  • California Adopts a Method to Define Independent Contractors

    May 22, 2018
    What’s the difference between an employee and an independent contractor? The California Supreme Court addressed this question.
    Backgrounds Online | May 22, 2018

    What’s the difference between an employee and an independent contractor? The California Supreme Court addressed this question.

    The Growing Gig Economy

    “Gig” workers have become a crucial part of the U.S. economy and workforce. Numerous companies have workers that drive customers, deliver food and products to consumer’s homes and provide other “on-demand” services. For many Americans, “gig” jobs are becoming a primary source of income.

    To date, most people who provide these services have been thought of as independent contractors. This led to the question – how do you differentiate an employee from a contract worker? That is important because the two are likely to have different compensation packages and benefit structures.

    A Civil Suit Against Dynamex Operations West

    A class action lawsuit known as Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court established a precedent for identifying an independent contractor. Similar suits have been brought forth by individuals who work on behalf of service providers such as Uber, but no distinction was previously finalized for workers in the sunshine state.

    The California Supreme Court heard the case and issued a response on April 30, 2018. Their decision was unanimous. The court called for implementing something known as the “ABC Test.” This is a standard that is already used in Massachusetts and New Jersey.

    About the ABC Test

    The ABC Test creates 3 rules that can be used to define an independent contractor. They are:

    A: The worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact,

    B: The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and

    C: The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.”

    Attorney Mark Pope was involved in the class action suit and subsequent case. He said the next step is to have another trial and settle all the claims that were brought against Dynamex. The ABC Test will be used to clarify whether or not people who worked on behalf of that company are deemed employees or contractors.

    What California Employers Should Know

    Pope believes that some California-based employers may be susceptible to class action suits based on the Dynamex decision. He suggested that employers consult their legal counsel and review the ABC Test so they can plan accordingly and reduce their risk of liability.

    Every California employer should be aware of this new standard for classifying types of workers. It should be considered when businesses are determining if the people who work on their behalf will be identified as employees or contractors.

    Staying Compliant

    Methods of doing business change constantly. As they do, new laws are created to establish what employers can or cannot do during and after the hiring process. Keeping up with all these laws can be cumbersome.

    At Backgrounds Online, we strive to stay up-to-date on laws that affect our customers so we can provide practical and educational resources that help keep them compliant wherever they operate. If you need assistance with your hiring process and compliance efforts, please contact us today. Our highly trained team is available to assist you Monday – Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.

  • Kansas Implemented A Ban The Box Law For State Employers

    May 15, 2018
    Governor Jeff Colyer signed a law that prohibits state employers from conducting criminal background checks until after an initial interview.
    Backgrounds Online | May 15, 2018

    Governor Jeff Colyer signed a law that prohibits state employers from conducting criminal background checks until after an initial interview.

    About This Law

    A new law in Kansas known as Executive Order 18-12 decrees that within 90 days, all “Executive Branch departments, agencies, boards, and commissions under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Governor shall take action to ensure that, during the initial stage of a state employment application, job applicants shall not be asked whether they have a criminal record, and a criminal record shall not automatically disqualify an applicant from receiving an interview.”

    This law does not apply to positions that cannot be held by individuals who have any type of criminal history. If an existing law decrees that applicants with “prior criminal conduct” are ineligible for hire, then a criminal inquiry may be conducted before an initial interview.

    Executive Order 18-12 does not prohibit state employers from running criminal background checks. In most cases, however, it stipulates that a background investigation may only begin after an applicant has gone through the interview process. This law was put into effect immediately upon signing.

    What Led To This Bill

    In a Press Release, Governor Colyer stated: “Studies have shown that gainful employment is a major factor in reducing recidivism rate among former offenders. This is simply about treating people as individuals and allowing them to explain their circumstances at a later point in the process”.

    The goal of this bill is to help people who have served sentences for criminal convictions as they try to find employment. It acknowledges that individuals who have criminal histories often have difficulties with obtaining jobs.

    If a state employer can only check for criminal records after an interview, the applicant receives an opportunity to showcase their qualifications and eligibility for a specific position. This also broadens the applicant pool for employers and gives state agencies a chance to learn more about candidates who may be well suited for their job openings.

    Growth Of The Ban The Box Movement

    In 1998 Hawaii became the first state to pass a Ban The Box law. Since then, numerous states and cities have written and approved similar bills. While these laws are not consistent from place to place, they share the same underlying goal: to help job seekers who have minor, irrelevant or outdated conviction that could prevent them from finding employment.

    The term Ban The Box comes from a once-common practice of asking about criminal records on employment applications. Job seekers were told to check a box if they had any type of arrest or criminal history. Those that did were unlikely to receive consideration.

    By removing this box, candidates are expected to have a better opportunity to showcase their skills and eligibility. Many similar laws being passed today are also known as “fair chance” or “second chance” bills but they are considered to be part of an ever-growing Ban The Box movement in America.

    Best Practices For Employers

    Not every state has a Ban The Box or related law, but new fair chance bills are being passed regularly. Best practice is for employers to get ahead of this and implement relevant policies. This includes removing questions about criminal records from job applications and holding off on requesting background checks until after an interview is conducted.

    Employers face a vast assortment of laws that cover hiring and background screening. At Backgrounds Online, we make efforts to keep up with these laws and provide educational resources to help our clients stay compliant. If your business is hiring, we can help accelerate the process and offer resources that enhance your compliance efforts. Please contact us Monday – Friday between 5am and 5pm for assistance.

  • Court Delays in San Diego County

    May 8, 2018
    Due to recent changes at the courthouse, consumer reports such as background checks are likely to be delayed. This could affect employers operating in that area.
    Backgrounds Online | May 8, 2018

    Due to recent changes at the courthouse, consumer reports such as background checks are likely to be delayed. This could affect employers operating in that area.

    About the Changes

    County clerks are responsible for pulling criminal records and other files that are commonly used in background check reports. The number of such clerks who are employed at the San Diego courthouse was recently cut in half.

    There is also a new cap on the number of records a clerk can retrieve each day. New policies reduce that amount to half of what it was previously. This means there are fewer people on duty - and the ones who remain can only procure a limited number of records.

    Court Delays

    Because of these changes, businesses that rely on records from the San Diego courthouse should anticipate the possibility of significant delays. Background checks that include components such as a County Criminal Court Search from that area may be delayed between 30 and 60 days.

    This situation affects the entire background screening industry and every company that does business at the courthouse. Backgrounds Online is working diligently with our criminal research department to help find a solution to this issue.

    Takeaway for Employers

    Employers that operate in the San Diego area should be aware of this so they can plan accordingly. If your business is going to run a background check that will require records from the San Diego courthouse, we recommend submitting your request ASAP. Our team will get started right away and do what we can to offer the fastest possible turnaround time.

    If you have any questions about this delay or need any other assistance with your background screening efforts, please contact us. Our team is available Monday - Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.

  • Uber Will Implement Stronger Background Screening Policies

    May 1, 2018
    The transportation company announced that it will screen drivers regularly to promote a safer and more trusted experience for their customers.
    Backgrounds Online | May 1, 2018

    The transportation company announced that it will screen drivers regularly to promote a safer and more trusted experience for their customers.

    Uber's Updates

    In the summer of 2018, Uber plans to implement numerous policies to enhance their safety standards. Among them are two big changes to the company's background screening practices.
    • Annual Screenings. Currently, Uber runs background checks on all potential drivers. Despite this, a few Uber drivers were found to have criminal convictions. That discovery prompted questions about whether or not the rideshare company was being thorough enough to protect their customers. To address these concerns, Uber will start running annual criminal background checks on all of their drivers - even if they are not required to do so by law.
    • Offense Notifications. Uber will also take advantage of technology that informs them if an employee incurs a new criminal record throughout the year. This will let Uber officials know if a driver is convicted of an act of violence, DUI or another charge that could make them ineligible to drive customers.

    Uber's Blog Entry

    On April 12, 2018, Uber published a new blog entry. It began with a message from their CEO that said the company is committed to safety. The CEO stated: "I'm announcing several new improvements to double down on safety in our app, strengthen our screening process, and bring a new powerhouse advisor on board to help shape Uber's next chapter."

    In addition to the enhanced screening practices, Uber is developing a Safety Center for their app. It will offer safety tips and related information, allow riders to create "trusted contacts" with whom they can share details of any Uber trip and an emergency button that connects the individual with 911 assistance.

    Uber further announced that they are expanding their Safety Advisory Board by hiring former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. Their blog entry ended by announcing that Uber is ready to move forward with safety protocols.

    The Importance of Screening On Demand Workers

    We've said this before, but it's worth repeating: it is critical to thoroughly and regularly screen on demand workers. This includes people who will drive passengers, have access to personal data and visit customer's homes to provide a variety of services.

    These workers have unprecedented access to the public. Every employer who operates in an on demand industry must take steps to help protect their customers and reputation. Running comprehensive background checks on all potential workers is a great start. But it shouldn't end there.

    We recommend implementing criminal monitoring for on demand workers. This simple, but effective tool informs you if someone who represents your business has a new record of which you should be aware. Ongoing monitoring regularly checks national criminal databases, sex offender registries and terrorist watch lists. If someone who works for you incurs a new conviction, you'll get the facts you need to determine how to proceed.

    Is It Time to Enhance Your Screening Policies?

    Uber is upgrading their safety measures to meet public demands. Consumers expect businesses to take every step possible to ensure their safety. This is especially true for businesses that provide direct-to-consumer services. Are you performing due diligence and protecting the people who rely on your business?

    If you need to upgrade your screening practices or want to talk about best practices for your industry, please contact us today. Our highly trained and knowledgeable staff can provide assistance and answer questions Monday - Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.

  • Target to Pay $3.7M for Allegedly Unfair Hiring Practices

    April 24, 2018
    The retailer was hit with a class-action lawsuit that claimed its hiring and background screening policies discriminate against African-Americans and Latinos.
    Backgrounds Online | April 24, 2018

    The retailer was hit with a class-action lawsuit that claimed its hiring and background screening policies discriminate against African-Americans and Latinos.

    About the Claim

    A class-action lawsuit alleged that Target violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against people based on race, gender and other protected characteristics. The retail giant was accused of refusing to hire African-American and Latino job seekers who had irrelevant or outdated criminal convictions.

    According to a Target spokesperson, the retailer does not ask about criminal records on their job applications but does run criminal background checks on all applicants. This is a common and essential practice, but employers should only consider reportable records when making business decisions.

    The plaintiffs in this lawsuit allege that Target refused to hire people based on decades-old convictions that should have no bearing on an individual's ability to earn entry-level positions. If these claims are true, then Target could have been utilizing practices that have a disproportionately negative affect on African-American and Latino job seekers.

    The President of the Legal Defense and Educational Fund issued a statement in connection with this lawsuit. It stated that background checks are a legitimate tool for employers but warned that Target's policies were "harmful to many qualified applicants who deserved a fair shot at a good job."

    Results of the Suit

    Target agreed to pay more than $3.7 million to settle this class action lawsuit. Individuals who may have been denied employment based on background checks run between 2006 and the date of the suit could be eligible for priority hiring today or a cash payout of $1,000. The retailer will also donate $600,000 to non-profit organizations that help former prisoners find jobs.

    As part of the settlement, Target agreed to review their current hiring policies. While the retailer did not acknowledge any specific wrongdoing, they did agree to consider adopting more modern guidelines regarding their use of criminal records data during the screening process. They will also work with third-party experts who will help review their current policies and suggest updates as necessary.

    The Importance of Fair Screening Policies

    Criminal background checks are an essential part of the hiring process. The parties who initiated the lawsuit against Target agreed on this point but felt the retailer used background reports in an unfair and discriminatory manner.

    Establishing fair and consistent screening policies is crucial for every employer. There is a growing movement in the United States to help individuals who have minor convictions that should not impede their ability to find jobs now. Ban the Box and other "second chance" policies have been implemented in numerous states and cities. New laws are introduced and passed every year. Employers that fail to update their hiring policies to accommodate these laws could face legal actions like the lawsuit that was filed against Target.

    Keeping up with all the laws and regulations that affect your business can be difficult. The team at Backgrounds Online is dedicated to learning about these laws and providing educational resources to help our clients with their ongoing compliance efforts. If you would like to learn more about how we can help enhance your screening efforts, please contact us today.