Backgrounds Online Blog

  • Volvo Agrees to Pay $70,000 to Settle an EEOC Lawsuit

    March 20, 2018
    The (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently settled a case against Volvo after the car manufacturer rescinded a job offer to a man who appeared to be fully qualified.
    Backgrounds Online | March 20, 2018

    The (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently settled a case against Volvo after the car manufacturer rescinded a job offer to a man who appeared to be fully qualified.

    Background Story

    A Maryland-based job seeker applied for a position at Volvo in 2014 and received a conditional offer. He agreed to a physical exam and background screening. His anticipated start date was February 9, 2015.

    During his physical, the individual informed a nurse that he was taking Suboxone - a prescription drug he received as part of a drug recovery program. The physical and background screening seemed to go well, and the man prepared for his first day at the new job.

    When he arrived, the man was told his offer had been rescinded. A Volvo employee allegedly informed him that the decision was made because of his Suboxone usage. This unexpected turn of events was reported to the EEOC. They got involved on his behalf and filed a lawsuit against the employer.

    About the Lawsuit

    After reviewing the applicant's case, the EEOC declared that Volvo failed to perform an individualized assessment before making their final decision. Had they done so, the EEOC believed, they would have learned the man had been enrolled in a drug recovery program since 2010. During that time he attended monthly counseling sessions and had regular drug tests to ensure he did not relapse.

    EEOC representatives felt that if the employer had considered these facts they would have determined that the applicant was eligible for employment. The EEOC also pointed out that the man had been successfully employed as both a sanitation worker and a dock worker while participating in his treatment program. Therefore, they concluded, not running an assessment was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    Volvo Settles

    After reviewing the lawsuit, Volvo officials agreed to a settlement. To start, they will pay $70,000 plus equitable relief to the applicant.

    Volvo also agreed to enter a three-year consent that prohibits them from making similar violations. The employer will implement an individualized assessment program and update their internal policies accordingly. They will also provide ADA training, including how to deal with legally-prescribed medications, to their employees. Moving forward, should Volvo encounter another case like this one, they will carefully consider whether or not the circumstances warrant denial of employment.

    Key Takeaway for Employers

    When determining whether or not to revoke a conditional offer based on non-violent criminal records, drug screening results or similar factors, the best practice is to fully assess the situation before making a decision. This involves determining whether or not the circumstances are relevant to the job duties; the applicant poses any risk to the company or its customer and employees; and other factors.

    Keeping up with laws that affect the hiring process can be difficult. At Backgrounds Online we make efforts to stay on top of new and changing laws that impact our customers. We also provide various educational resources including this blog and monthly Newsletters.

    If you have questions about how we can help with your background screening, compliance and related efforts, please contact us today. Our knowledgeable, experienced team is available Monday - Friday from 5am to 5pm PST.

  • Is Your Hiring Process Too Impersonal?

    March 13, 2018
    A new survey by the American Staffing Association states that around seven out of ten people feel the process of searching for a job can be impersonal and cold.
    Backgrounds Online | March 13, 2018

    A new survey by the American Staffing Association states that around seven out of ten people feel the process of searching for a job can be impersonal and cold.

    About the Survey

    The Harris Poll, on behalf of the American Staffing Association (ASA), recently contacted more than 2,100 adult workers in the United States. They asked a variety of questions to learn how people felt about previous job searches and hiring experiences.

    Not surprisingly, the majority of people stated that technology has improved the process and made it easier to find employment opportunities. However, many respondents also said that technology was not all they needed when looking for work. They also hoped for a more personalized approach from potential employers.


    Based on the results of this survey, most Americans are happy to utilize technology to initiate a job search. Even so, eight out of ten people agreed that submitting a resume or application online felt a bit like sending their information into a "black box." The survey concluded that job seekers look for a more personal touch after they express interest in a position.

    Participants were asked how they prefer to receive responses from potential employers. Each person was given a list of contact methods and asked for feedback on which were or were not acceptable. The results, from most to least preferred, were:

    • In-person contact
    • Phone call
    • Email
    • Response via a website on which an account was created to submit the resume
    • Text message
    • Video conference
    • Social media

    In-person responses or phone calls were, by far, the favored method. Richard Wahlquist, President of the ASA stated: "Businesses that rely too heavily on a 'high tech' but largely 'faceless' process are sending the wrong messages to job seekers looking for connections with companies that value their employees."

    Practical Applications

    The key takeaway for employers is that using a more personal approach with job seekers could give you a small edge over your competition. This might involve taking a little extra time to call people or bringing candidates back to the office following a successful interview. Individuals who had technology based follow-ups tended to have more negative feelings about their experience. Only one in four of those surveyed agreed that a text message is an acceptable form of communication in this scenario.

    Most employers face tough competition when vying for top talent. Establishing and maintaining a friendlier, more welcoming approach might help encourage job seekers to choose you. Small touches like phone calls and face-to-face meetings could become a factor when applicants are determining which job offer they will accept.

    Screening Your Applicants

    After identifying an eligible candidate who could be an ideal addition to your team, the next step is to run a background check. At Backgrounds Online we believe this part of the process should also be personal and welcoming. That's why we are a service-first business - our goal is to help clients find the best possible additions to their staff.

    Our team provides direct communication to your applicants as they go through a background screening. We provide the type of service and transparency that survey respondents admitted they were looking for while seeking a new job.

    If you have questions about how we can help improve your applicant's experience, please contact us today. We are here to answer questions and provide assistance Monday - Friday from 5am to 5pm (PST).

  • Kansas City, Missouri Passed a "Ban the Box" Law

    March 06, 2018
    Employers in Kansas City, Missouri should be aware of a "Ban the Box" law that prohibits questions about criminal records on job applications.
    Backgrounds Online | March 06, 2018

    Employers in Kansas City, Missouri should be aware of a "Ban the Box" law that prohibits questions about criminal records on job applications.

    About Ban the Box

    The Ban the Box Movement has grown significantly over the last few years and continues to gain momentum. As of February 2018, 30 states and around 150 cities have implemented Ban the Box laws, all of which are intended to help people with criminal histories find employment opportunities. While these laws vary drastically, the basic concept is to disallow employers from asking about criminal records on job applications.

    In the past, many applications included questions about whether or not the applicant had any type of criminal record. If so, they were asked to check a box. Applicants who checked this box were unlikely to receive further consideration, regardless of the type of record they had. That caused people who were fully eligible to be overlooked by many employers.

    Banning the box increases the likelihood that job seekers will get initial interviews. It also gives employers more chances to discover qualified candidates. This is an important goal of the Ban the Box movement: to help employers acquire a more comprehensive picture of their applicants so they can make informed hiring choices.

    The Decision in Kansas City

    The City Council had a vote about banning the box on February 1, 2018. A councilman who sponsored the bill, Jermaine Reed, believes this is important because thousands of residents are "stigmatized by old criminal records." This can lead to increased unemployment rates and, in turn, higher crime rates.

    Missouri implemented a Ban the Box law in 2016 that applies to state employers. According to city officials, 139 ex-offenders have been hired for government positions since then. After hearing opinions from those who supported and opposed the concept, the City Council voted in favor of the new Ban the Box law. It goes into effect on June 9, 2018.

    What Kansas City Employers Should Know

    Any employer that has questions about criminal records on job applications should remove them to comply with this new law. Since the Ban the Box movement continues to grow, current best practice is for employers everywhere to remove questions about criminal records from their applications, even if they don't operate in an area that has a similar law in place.

    Kansas City employers will still be permitted to ask applicants if they have a criminal history and run criminal background checks. However, that will have to occur later in the hiring process. If an applicant does have a criminal record, then the employer may consider that when making a final hiring decision.

    Missouri also has laws in place to prevent sexual offenders from being allowed to work with children or other vulnerable populations.

    Keeping Up with Compliance

    Every year numerous new laws are passed that affect the screening and hiring process. It is critical for employers to remain compliant. Keeping up with these laws, however, can be difficult.

    At Backgrounds Online we make great efforts to learn about employment-related laws and provide educational resources. If you have questions about what we can do to enhance your background screening and compliancy efforts, please contact our knowledgeable staff for assistance.

  • A New Drug-Related Law Affects Employers in Maine

    February 27, 2018
    The state of Texas has been fighting a legal battle to become exempt from certain EEOC Guidelines since 2013. They recently won an important decision.
    Backgrounds Online | February 27, 2018

    Maine is now the first state to prohibit employers from taking adverse action against employees or applicants who use marijuana.

    About the Law

    The Maine State Legislature passed a bill that will be known as the Marijuana Legalization Act. It prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against job applicants or existing employees if they test positive for marijuana. Applicants may not be denied employment and existing employees cannot be disciplined, overlooked for promotions or otherwise negatively affected because of marijuana usage.

    This law stipulates that marijuana usage can occur during a person's time outside of the work environment. Employers can still prohibit employees from using marijuana while on the job or bringing it into the workplace.

    Employers with Zero Tolerance Drug Policies

    Some employers have zero-tolerance policies for job seekers and current employees. This new law directly conflicts with such policies. It does specifically state that adverse action cannot be taken "solely" because of a marijuana usage. This has led to speculation that some employers may find ways to continue their zero-tolerance policies.

    In an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management, Maine-based attorney Ann Freeman stated: "An employer could argue that they are not taking this adverse action just because someone smoked pot on their own time-they are taking the action because the employee violated the employer's policy."

    If an employer wants to screen employees for marijuana, they must first be granted a state-approved policy. The Maine Department of Labor developed a template for this scenario. It has existed for many years, but until now only a small percentage of Maine employees have utilized this option. More employers may issue requests to take advantage of this policy to in the hopes of continuing to enforce their zero tolerance drug policies.

    Federal Exceptions

    Positions that have federal regulations may be exempt from this law. Individuals who are working under federal contracts will still have to comply with federally-mandated laws that cover marijuana usage.

    Whether or not any federal laws will impact employees who are not working under federal contracts remains to be seen.

    Takeaway for Maine Employers

    Employers in Maine should be aware of this law and prepared for compliancy. Some businesses may have situations that can be exceptions to the law - such as the previously mentioned federal exemptions and for positions that are safety-sensitive - but they must handle such situations in a compliant manner.

    Businesses that operate in Maine are encouraged to review their drug screening policies and make updates as necessary. Individuals who work in Human Resources should be made aware of this law and receive updated versions of internal screening policies. This documentation can include language that stipulates marijuana usage is only allowed outside of work hours. Nothing in the law allows employees to intake marijuana or be impaired in any way due to drug usage while on the job.

    Keeping up with laws that govern the hiring process can be difficult. At Backgrounds Online we strive to stay informed about all laws that affect our customers. We provide educational resources and are also available to help via phone, email or chat. If you have questions about how we can help with your screening and compliance efforts, please contact us.

  • A Court Rules in Favor of Texas Over EEOC Guidelines

    February 20, 2018
    The state of Texas has been fighting a legal battle to become exempt from certain EEOC Guidelines since 2013. They recently won an important decision.
    Backgrounds Online | February 20, 2018

    The state of Texas has been fighting a legal battle to become exempt from certain EEOC Guidelines since 2013. They recently won an important decision.


    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a document in 2012 known as the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was created to help prevent employers from discriminating against job seekers who have a criminal history.

    Prior to releasing this Guidance, the EEOC did not provide notice to the public or offer an opportunity for people to comment, which is required by the Administrative Procedures Act. In 2013, the state of Texas filed a lawsuit against the EEOC claiming that they should not have to follow some of the rules established by this Guidance. Key areas of contention were sections that disallow employers from automatically disqualifying convicted felons from certain positions and that employers must perform individualized assessments on candidates who have a criminal history.

    Texas law calls for some state agencies to automatically exclude candidates who have felony convictions. Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas, believes the Guidance establishes a risk to public safety and feels that Texas has: "the sovereign right to impose categorical bans on the hiring of criminals for such jobs as state troopers, school teachers and jailers."

    The Lawsuit

    Since 2013, Texas has continued to seek legal exemption from the EEOC Guidance. In 2017, the state and the EEOC agreed to move for a summary judgment. Texas requested the right to prevent all felons from being allowed to work for the state or legislature in any capacity. This request was denied as the state was deemed to have many employment opportunities in which felons could be granted employment without posing any risk to the public.

    Although Texas did not did not get everything they requested, the court agreed that the EEOC did not follow APA requirements before issuing their Guidance. Therefore, the court determined that Texas is exempt from the Guidance until the EEOC complies with the APA's requirement.

    About the EEOC

    The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that are intended to prevent discrimination against job applicants and employees. In most cases, the laws they enforce cover employers that have a staff of at least 15 people. EEOC enforcement applies to various aspects of employment including hiring, promotions and wages.

    EEOC officials also investigate charges of discrimination against employers. Once an investigation is complete, they make a determination about whether or not discrimination occurred and then work to settle the issue (if necessary). In some cases they may resort to filing lawsuits against employers that are accused of discriminatory practices.

    Learn more about the EEOC.

    How the Texas Decision Affects Employers

    Currently, this decision only affects employers in Texas. However, the court's decision could encourage other states to file similar lawsuits against the EEOC.

    There are numerous laws that cover the hiring and background screening process. When new laws are passed or existing laws are updated, it is essential for employers to comply. The team at Backgrounds Online strives to continually keep up with laws that affect employers. Follow our blog for useful information about compliance, screening best practices and other important topics.

    If you have questions about how we can help your business with screening and compliance, please contact us today.

  • Our Commitment to Protecting Sensitive Data

    February 13, 2018
    The background screening process requires the use of sensitive data. We take numerous steps to ensure this information is secure and confidential at all times.
    Backgrounds Online | February 13, 2018

    The background screening process requires the use of sensitive data. We take numerous steps to ensure this information is secure and confidential at all times.

    Ongoing Efforts

    Protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is a responsibility that we take seriously. We've all seen stories about large corporations getting hacked. When that happens, millions of people can be negatively affected.

    Backgrounds Online has a strong commitment to protecting the data we use and the people who rely on our services. We continuously make security enhancements to ensure we adhere to a high standard of data confidentiality. Our hardware management and software design is done exclusively in-house.

    While we have great confidence in our security measures, we also want to be certain that we constantly meet current security best practices. To help ensure this, we voluntarily undergo an annual Service Organization Controls (SOC) 2 audit.

    About the SOC 2 Audit

    SOC 2 audits are conducted by independent CPA firms. They are done to confirm an organization's controls that affect the security, confidentiality and privacy concerns of their customers. The audit involves both on and off-site investigations. After each audit, a SOC 2 report is produced by the CPA.

    This report provides a detailed comparison of the organization's controls as compared to standards that were established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). They either confirm or refute that an organization meets the stringent criteria established for the selected Trust Services Principles.

    Our SOC 2 Report

    A-LIGN, a nationwide security and compliance solutions provider, conducted our audit. It was based on the Trust Services Principles of Security and Confidentiality. We received a report with an unmodified opinion. That means the auditors did not have feedback on ways in which we should improve our controls.

    To maintain our commitment to security, Backgrounds Online submits to a Type 2 SOC 2 audit each year. A Type 2 audit tests the suitability of controls we have in place and our effectiveness at operating those controls across a 12 month period.​

    The audit is something we will continue to do annually. This is part of our commitment to our clients and the people they screen. Our last SOC 2 report was delivered in October, 2017. Once it again, it contained no exceptions. We are proud of the results and will continue to maintain high standards of data security.

    Need Background Checks?

    If you're ordering background checks then you need reportable, current data that can help you make informed business decisions. You also want to feel confident that the data you send and receive is protected.

    Backgrounds Online is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Our accreditation assures you that we provide legally compliant background screening services and adhere to the highest industry standards for consumer protection, client education, verification standards and general business practices. And our SOC report confirms our deep commitment to security.

    To learn more about what we can do for you, please contact our experienced team today. We are available from 5am to 5pm (PST) via phone, email or chat.

  • Be Consistent and Concise When Providing References

    February 6, 2018
    A recent Newsweek article discussed the importance of references - and being careful about what information you do and do not provide.
    Backgrounds Online | February 6, 2018

    A recent Newsweek article discussed the importance of references - and being careful about what information you do and do not provide.

    The Importance of References

    References are a useful tool for any background check. Employers use them to obtain crucial details about an applicant's work ethic, communication skills and other key topics. The information a former manager, colleague or personal reference provides can help employers determine whether or not an applicant is properly qualified and suited for a position.

    When you give a reference, only include details that can legally be shared. You can contribute information such as typical job responsibilities, attendance records, strengths/weaknesses and eligibility for re-hire. However, there are some subjects to avoid.

    Don't Mention Protected Class Data

    When offering a reference, avoid discussing "protected class data" such as:
    • Race
    • Gender
    • Religion
    • National origin
    • Age
    • Disability status
    • Any other details that could be considered discriminatory

    Avoid Speculation

    The Newsweek article also warned about making speculative comments. For example: it is common to provide opinions about a person's job performance, but best to not make assumptions on how they might perform if hired elsewhere.

    This extends to speculating about how well an individual might work in a group setting or individually if they are hired by a prospective employer. And to offering "best guesses" such as how much time might be necessary to complete the onboarding process.

    Questions About Salary History

    Several cities and states have prohibited employers from asking applicant's about their salary history. The primary purpose is to help put an end to wage discrimination based on gender and other factors.

    While many cities and states still allow employers to ask about salary, new laws designed to prevent discrimination are passed regularly. Best practice is to stay ahead of the game and not discuss salary history.

    Create a Reference Policy

    Companies that are frequently called upon to offer employment verifications and references may wish to develop an internal policy on how to handle those requests. This can be a document that explains what types of information will and will not be provided.

    The document could stress the importance of being consistent when providing references. For example, if a person offers numerous positive comments about "former employee A" and only a few neutral comments about "former employee B", that could be construed as a negative reference and thus inadvertently discourage the employer from hiring "former employee B."

    Some companies appoint one or more persons to handle references and verifications. It is beneficial to train these individuals on how to obtain the information they will need, answer commonly asked questions and avoid potentially discriminatory topics. They could also be trained on the importance of providing concise responses that can be used during the decision making process and being consistent when offering references.

    Need Reference Checks for Your Applicants?

    Backgrounds Online offers verification services. Our experienced team contacts personal or professional references and conducts interviews about their work history. They are highly trained to understand what to ask and what to avoid. We've developed a reliable set of interview questions and can work with you to create a custom set of questions.

    Reference verifications can be run individually or as part of any preset or custom background check package. If you have questions about the reference or other services we offer, please contact us for assistance. We are available Monday - Friday from 5am to 5pm PT.

  • The DOT Established New Rules for Drug Testing

    January 30, 2018
    To combat the opioid epidemic, the Department of Transportation implemented new drug testing regulations that necessitated the addition of a 14 Panel screen.
    Backgrounds Online | January 30, 2018

    To combat the opioid epidemic, the Department of Transportation implemented new drug testing regulations that necessitated the addition of a 14 Panel screen.

    About the Regulations

    In October 2017 President Trump declared there is an opioid crisis in America. He said opioid abuse is now a "national public health emergency under federal law" and urged all executive agencies to help.

    The Department of Transportation (DOT) has since created new drug testing regulations. Secretary Elaine Chao said: "The ability to test for a broader range of opioids will advance transportation safety significantly and provide another deterrence to opioid abuse, which will better protect the public and ultimately save lives."

    The new regulations involve adding tests for four semi-synthetic opioids. They include:

    • Hydrocodone
    • Hydromorphone
    • Oxymorphone
    • Oxycodone

    DOT regulations also added methylenedioxyamphetamine as an initial test analyte and removed methylenedioxyethylamphetamine as a confirmatory test analyte.

    See all the regulations here.

    Get DOT Compliant Drug Testing

    To help our customers comply with the new DOT regulations, we collaborated with our partner Quest Diagnostics to develop a 14 Panel drug screen. It includes all the tests that are currently part of the 10 Panel screen and the four opioids that were added by the DOT.

    If you are currently setup to request drug screenings, then you can include a 5, 10 or 14 Panel drug screen when you order a report. The 14 Panel drug test can be ordered as a standalone product or added to any preset or custom background check package.

    If you are not setup to run drug screenings, the process is easy. Login to your Backgrounds Online account and visit You'll get the application form you need to register with our partner Quest. Once you submit the application it typically takes up to three business days to complete the approval process.

    Learn what is included in a 5, 10 or 14 panel drug screen.

    Industries That Require Drug Testing

    According to a 2012 document issued by the DOT, the following industries are subject to drug and alcohol testing.

    Aviation. This includes flight crews, attendants, air traffic controllers and other employees that work at aviation facilities.

    Commercial Motor Carriers. This includes Commercial Driver's License holders who operate vehicles that weight at least 26,001 pounds or carry more than 16 passengers (including the driver).

    Maritime Employees. This includes all crew members who work on a commercial vessel.

    Pipeline Workers. This includes individuals who have positions such as operations, maintenance and emergency response.

    Railroad Employees. This includes Hours of Service Act personnel, signal service workers and train dispatchers.

    Transit Workers. This includes vehicle operators, controllers, mechanics and armed security.

    Workers in other industries may also be asked to submit to drug screenings. Learn more about DOT regulations at

    Safety Sensitive Employees

    Individuals who are in positions that are considered safety-sensitive (such as those listed above) may be screened for a variety of situations. They include:

    • Pre-employment
    • Reasonable Suspicion/Cause
    • Random
    • Return-to-Duty
    • Follow-up
    • Post-Accident

    Have Questions About Drug Screening?

    If you would like more information about 14 panel drug screening, please contact our team. We are available Monday – Friday from 5am to 5pm PT to assist you.

  • New Jersey Makes It Easier to Expunge Criminal Records

    January 23, 2018
    Governor Chris Christie signed three new laws that are intended to help people with arrest and criminal records find employment in New Jersey.
    Backgrounds Online | January 23, 2018

    Governor Chris Christie signed three new laws that are intended to help people with arrest and criminal records find employment in New Jersey.

    About the Laws

    As of December 20, 2017, employers that hire for positions in New Jersey may not ask applicants about expunged criminal records or make written or oral inquiries about such records during the application process. New Jersey residents will also have a shorter waiting period to get their records expunged under certain circumstances. There are three new laws in place.

    Bill S-3306. This is a companion piece to the state's existing Ban the Box law. It prohibits employers from having questions about criminal records, including expunged records, on job applications. Employers are also prohibited from using methods to find out if a candidate has a criminal record, including expunged records, during the initial application process.

    Bill S-3307. This shortens the amount of time a person must wait to apply to get a record expunged from ten to six years. It also allows individuals to apply to have four offenses expunged (the previous limit had been three). The bill establishes regulations about how a person can be qualified to take advantage of this new law.

    Bill S-3308. This shortens the amount of time a person must wait to apply to expunge a juvenile criminal record from five to three years. The bill also explains the qualifications that are required for someone to take advantage of this lesser waiting period.

    Why Governor Christie Signed

    According to Governor Christie, these new bills are life savers. He commented: "Expungement has to be an option that's available for those who have earned it and deserve it, and this legislation will allow people to get that."

    Similar laws have been created in other states and could be considered part of a nationwide "second chance" policy. Millions of Americans have criminal records. In many cases, even a minor record could prevent an individual from obtaining employment. The New Jersey laws are designed to help people expunge old records, which can make it easier for them to find jobs.

    What Employers in New Jersey Should Know

    New Jersey has had a Ban The Box law since March, 2015. These new bills strengthen that law and create additional requirements that must be followed by every employer that operates in New Jersey.

    Employers may wish to consider updating their written screening and hiring policies to accommodate these new bills.

    Keeping Up with Relevant Laws

    There are numerous laws that affect employers and they are not consistent from state to state. Backgrounds Online makes efforts to keep up with these laws and provide educational resources to help our clients stay informed.

    If you have questions about how we can assist with your background screening and compliance efforts, please contact us. Our knowledgeable staff is available Monday – Friday from 5am to 5pm (PT) via phone, email or chat.

  • Portage County Appoints a Felon to Their Disabilities Board

    January 16, 2018
    The Commissioners of Portage County, Ohio don't run background checks on prospective board members. This led to them awarding a position to a convicted felon.
    Backgrounds Online | January 16, 2018

    The Commissioners of Portage County, Ohio don't run background checks on prospective board members. This led to them awarding a position to a convicted felon.

    How a Felon Got Appointed

    When a seat on any of the Portage County boards becomes available, the Commissioners ask citizens to apply. There is, however, no specific application or interview process. Candidates typically attend a public meeting where they are asked a few questions about why they should be added to the board. They do not have to fill out an application, provide a resume, pass an interview or agree to a background screening.

    Two openings recently became available for the county's board of Developmental Disabilities. Four people expressed interested, including a man named William Tarver. He was awarded one of the board positions. Just one day later, the Portage County Commissioners started receiving complaints and concerns about him.

    Tarver's History

    According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, Tarver has an extensive criminal record that includes misdemeanors and felonies. His history was discovered via CourtView, an online public records provider. The site reported that Tarver entered guilty pleas to six different fifth-degree felonies. He also allegedly owes around $31,000 in child support.

    Before receiving the position, Tarver submitted some information about himself and why he should be on the board. He turned in a two-paragraph document in which he suggested that he was qualified because his brother is autistic and he had been a union steward for Teamsters 507 and 24.

    Researches from a local newspaper contacted the Teamsters 507 and learned that Tarver had been a member, but never a steward. They also contacted the Teamsters 24, but were unable to speak with anyone.

    The Four Applicants

    Of the four people who applied for the board positions, one had previously been a member. She was reappointed to help maintain consistency. Two other people applied, but were not appointed. While it is not known why, one theory is that it was due to their positions on or potential connections to a six-week union strike.

    The fact that Tarver was appointed has become an embarrassing situation for the Portage Commissioners. One of the applicants who was not chosen said, "Right now, a lot of the families are feeling betrayed by their own SSAs. My children are affected and I'm afraid for my child's services."

    After Tarver's Record Became Public Knowledge

    Residents of Portage County are concerned about Tarver's past, but he maintains that he does not have a criminal record. During an interview he stated: "I don't put any credence in CourtView, Portage County courts, or anyone else's opinion about me. Because I was there and I know if I'm guilty or not guilty. You can call me a 25-time felon. I know that I'm not a felon. I don't care what the (Ohio Revised Code) or any other thing says about me. I'm flawless. I love people. I don't have a mean bone in my body. I will not be cornered, but I will serve this board and serve these clients."

    While it is hoped that Tarver will resign, at this time that seems unlikely. He was appointed for a three-year term and the Commissioners may not have an option to remove him. Commissioner Vicki Kline has since stated that the county needs to create a vetting process but has not done so yet because they are concerned about crossing "legal lines."

    Why Background Checks Matter

    When handled properly, background checks can legally be run on potential employees, contractors and volunteers. Applicants must first agree to be screened and sign a disclosure. Best practice is to have an NAPBS accredited consumer reporting agency conduct the investigation. To earn this accreditation, background check providers must show that they take steps to ensure a fair screening process and comply with federal, state and local laws.

    If you need to screen applicants for any type of position, Backgrounds Online can help. Contact us between 5am and 5pm (PT) Monday - Friday to talk directly to one our highly trained screening professionals.

  • A Deputy is Found to Have a Long Criminal Record

    January 9, 2018
    After a Deputy was arrested for domestic abuse, her background was reviewed. She had multiple arrests for a variety of offenses - and several convictions.
    Backgrounds Online | January 9, 2018

    After a Deputy was arrested for domestic abuse, her background was reviewed. She had multiple arrests for a variety of offenses - and several convictions.

    The Arrest

    Deputy Monica Smith was on duty the morning of August 25, 2017. When it was time for her lunch break, she left the facility and went home. She returned later that day and was arrested for domestic abuse battery.

    While on her lunch break, Smith reportedly had an argument with her husband. According to police records, the incident led to Smith punching her husband in the face and dousing him with department-issued pepper spray. He apparently managed to return fire with another canister that was intended for official police use.

    Police officers were called to Smith's home after the Deputy left. They reported that Smith's husband had a laceration on his upper lip and skin irritation from the pepper spray.

    Smith's Criminal History is Discovered

    After Deputy Smith was arrested, officials reviewed her record. They found that she had nearly a dozen previous arrests. Many of Smith's charges had been dismissed, but she also had several convictions. They included fighting/disturbing the peace and criminal damage for breaking apartment windows with a cinder block.

    Rafael Goyeneche, President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said this about the situation: "When you have multiple arrests and prosecutions for local offenses in your background, that is a red flag."

    Smiths' Path to Becoming a Deputy

    On March 13, Smith was arrested for missing a court appearance. She was held in jail for the night. The next day she applied for a position as a Deputy at the sheriff's office. Whether or not she heard about the job opening while incarcerated is unknown.

    It appears that no background report was run on Smith. If it was, then Smith's record was overlooked or ignored. Despite the fact that she had just been locked up and had previous convictions, Smith received the job.

    Smith went through a training course and was actively working as a Deputy until the incident involving her husband. After being arrested while on-duty, Smith was fired. She was not convicted of the domestic abuse battery charge, however. Smith's husband stopped cooperating with the District Attorney's office, so they had no choice but to drop the case.

    Why Background Checks Matter

    If the sheriff's department had run and reviewed a criminal background check, she would not have been hired. Having a criminal record doesn't automatically disqualify a person from being eligible for employment, but every position has a unique set of qualifications and requirements. Someone with multiple arrests and convictions would not typically be approved as a Deputy.

    This incident was embarrassing for the sheriff's department and it provides a good example of why background checks are so important. Employers screen applicants to ensure they are qualified for a position and to look for reportable criminal records. Once all this information is collected, employers may use it and apply it to relevant state and federal laws to help them make educated hiring decisions that protect their business, brand and reputation.

    If you have questions about how background checks can benefit your business, please contact or experienced team today. We can help you create screening packages that are perfectly tailored to any position for which you are hiring.

  • Seven Best Practices for Employers in 2018

    January 2, 2018
    It is essential for employers to be compliant with laws that affect hiring and background screening. Here are some best practices to implement for the New Year.
    Backgrounds Online | January 2, 2018

    It is essential for employers to be compliant with laws that affect hiring and background screening. Here are some best practices to implement for the New Year.

    1. Ban the Box

    We've seen numerous state and local Ban the Box laws over the last few years. More are likely to be passed in 2018. These laws differ from place to place, but most contain the same basic concepts.

    Best Practice Tips:

    • Remove questions about arrests and/or convictions from your job applications.
    • Hold off on running criminal background checks until after you've conducted an interview. To be extra cautious, wait until a conditional job offer is extended.

    2. Carefully Consider Convictions

    In the past, individuals with arrest records or criminal convictions were unlikely to receive consideration for any job. More recently, a variety of laws have been created to help people with minor records obtain employment.

    Best Practice Tips:

    • If an applicant has a conviction, take time to evaluate the offense. Consider how serious it was, how long ago it occurred and whether or not it is relevant to the job. Some states will have specific guidelines on how to review convictions.
    • When denying employment due to an applicant's criminal history (or based on other information learned after a background screening), go through the proper adverse action process. Start by sending the person a pre-adverse notice along with a copy of their background check and a summary of their rights under the FCRA. Give the individual time to review these documents and file a dispute if warranted.
    • If no dispute is filed, then proceed with the adverse action (which includes providing notification, contact information for the Consumer Reporting Agency that prepared the background report and a second copy of the rights under the FCRA summary).

    3. Do Not Consider Records That Have Been Expunged

    Some states are establishing easier guidelines for expunging certain types of arrest and conviction records. Once a record is expunged, it cannot be included on a background check or used to make a hiring decision.

    Best Practice Tip:

    4. Use a Standalone Disclosure

    We've seen numerous lawsuits based on claims that an employer's disclosure document included waivers or other content that is not permitted.

    Best Practice Tips:

    • Make sure your disclosure is a simple, standalone document.
    • Do not include any additional content on the disclosure.

    5. Don't Ask About Salary

    There is a growing movement to forbid employers from asking applicants about their previous salary. The goal is to prevent wage discrimination based on gender, nationality or other factors.

    Best Practice Tips:

    • Don't ask applicants about their current or previous salary.
    • Ensure that employees who perform equal duties receive equal compensation (some exceptions can be made based on the location of a job when cost of living is a factor).

    6. Make Sure the Data You Send and Receive is Protected

    Recent data breaches have created a whirlwind of concern about protecting consumer's personal data.

    Best Practice Tip:

    • Partner with a background check provider that has strong protections in place, such as an annual SOC 2 audit.

    7. Implement Anti-Discrimination Policies

    Make sure your policies do not inadvertently discriminate against applicants or employees.

    Best Practice Tips:

    • Familiarize yourself with anti-discrimination laws established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
    • Document your hiring and screening policies and make sure they show the steps you take to avoid discrimination.
    • Establish and maintain policies that are fair and consistent for everyone.

    Follow Our Blog

    We regularly report on laws that affect employers. Watch for our new blog entries every Tuesday and read about important topics such as compliance, hiring and background check best practices.

    Our team wishes you a happy and prosperous 2018! If you have questions about how we can help you build strong teams and make informed hiring decisions, please contact us today.