Employers today know all too well the importance of conducting a background check on new hires. Their reasons however may vary as to why they perform background checks. In our recent infographic on “Why You Need to Background Check,” we graphically illustrated some of the reasons for background screening.
Your new potential hire has just left your office following a final interview. You feel great about their attitude and they appear to have the pedigree of a top candidate. They have all the signs for success: a resume full of great experience, stories about converting tough clients, and the charisma/charm and character you’ve only ever read about in hiring books.
The Association’s guidance is targeted to all employers that utilize employment background checks to vet employees for job opportunities. Company roles in human resources, legal compliance, risk management, finance and general management should review the full press release.
In recent years identity protection has become an increasingly big deal. Specifically, the handling of Social Security Numbers (SSNs) by companies has been reworked in a number of states in order to better safeguard their employees against identity theft. The sudden concern arose primarily due to companies putting employee’s financial information at risk for years by asking for SSNs in places they really do not need to be. Identification cards, employment applications, pay stubs, mail, or even the electronic transmission of SSNs via the internet all unnecessarily heighten the risk for identity theft. With today’s criminals consistently finding new ways to exploit inadequate security systems, it’s important that companies and employers strive to cut down on excessive exposure of sensitive information.
In most states across the U.S. it is illegal to do the following:
- · Publicly display or post more than the last four digits of SSNs.
- · Print SSNs on employees’ badges, parking permits or timecards.
- · Require people to use their SSN to access a website unless encrypted or over a secure connection.
- · Use more than the last four digits to access a website unless a password or other unique identifier is also required.
- · Use more than the last four digits of an SSN as an employee number.
- · Send SSNs through the mail, unless the documents are applications or other such forms; and then SSNs must not be visible through a windowed envelope.
- · Keep unsecured files containing SSNs and allow non authorized personnel access to such files.
The California Office of Privacy Protection has put together a set of recommendations, click here, for any entities who wish to tighten up their SSN practices.
Imagine you discovered the owner of your child’s daycare center was a convicted felony on such crime as battery, assault, domestic violence, grand theft and even manslaughter. Would this information prompt you to pause or re-consider the daycare center you select?
While you might assume that the state in which you live does a thorough background check on daycare owners and employees, you’ll be surprised to know that only 11 states in the U.S. conduct full background checks on potential daycare workers.
In an investigative report conducted by Dateline’s Chris Hansen, many daycares’ true colors were exposed when the investigative team questioned daycare owner’s criminal histories. In one case, it was revealed that Brighter Beginnings Pre School in Clearwater, Florida owner, Melissa Van Cleave has convictions for battery, domestic violence and a DUI, yet is still able to run her daycare.
Under The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, arrest records should only be used as a bar from employment if pertinent to the position. Child care-related crimes such as sex abuse, battery and manslaughter, for example, could be a bar from employment in the child care industry. Even if your state conducts a background check on a daycare center, it’s important as a parent to ask the right question such as the type of background check conducted, do research, and occasionally visit the daycare unannounced.
Here are some surprising statistics about background checks and child care providers:
- About 12 million children under the age of 5 are in some type of child care setting every week.
- Children may be cared for by an adult other than a parent for 35-45 hours each week.
- 21 states do not conduct fingerprint checks.
- 43 states do not check the sex offender registry for child care staff.
- 24 states do not conduct a fingerprint check for family child care providers.
In light of the events that have unfolded at Penn State and Syracuse Universities, it is important to recognize the unfortunate events that occurred, but also shed light on how the scandals happened. The incident has shocked the country – Penn State University’s former football coach, Jerry Sandusky is being charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse towards minors and the university’s revered football coach, Joe Paterno was fired.
Sandusky is the pinpoint in a wide-ranging investigation that involves eight boys over a 15-year period. Similarly, Syracuse University authorities allegedly ignored sex abuse allegations in 2002 against basketball coach Bernie Fine. A former ball boy for Syracuse University, Bobby Davis, and his girlfriend at the time, claim to have gone to university police back in 2002 with child-molestation allegations. The two have decided to come forward again in response to the media spectacle at Penn State – this time, hoping they will be heard.
The allegations facing administrators at both universities are cause for any parent or school to worry especially when the trust and care of minors are involved. The reaction to these two events by parents is overwhelming – many are questioning the hiring process for the administrators, teachers, coaches and the like who spend time with children. The incidents that have occurred also highlight the lack of background checks performed on individuals who work closely with children.
In one case, a group of parents whose children participate in Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks programs are demanding the adoption of background checks for all coaches and volunteers (Read more). In another recent case, Hollywood casting assistant, Jason James Murphy has caused anxiety amongst the parents of child actors who worked under Murphy. Murphy is a convicted child molester who served five years in prison for kidnapping and molesting an 8 year old boy. Parents of child actors are especially concerned since the casting process is typically a time where a child would be unsupervised by a parent or guardian (Read more).
Had background checks including federal court criminal records searches, statewide criminal records searches and criminal history reports, been performed some of these events could have been avoided. It is important to question whether or not background checks are performed amongst those our society trusts with minors to help eliminate the chances of pedophiles and predators preying on children.
A new law signed by Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Corbett, mandates background checks on public, private and vocational school workers. School district administrators must notify all employees of the law and return a form reporting any criminal history to the Pennsylvania State Education Association completed by employees. Certain convictions will lead to employment suspensions or even termination including first-, second-, or third-degree felonies, aggravated assault, kidnapping, and other crimes. Read more
How background checks are conducted in Clark County, Nevada Schools.
The Las Vegas Sun investigates how background checks are done, after a teacher in a Clark County school was arrested on suspicion of drug possession and theft of school property. In an investigative interview, the chief human resources officer and former interim chief human resources officer of the Clark County School District answered questions on their background check procedures. Read more
Update: Background Checks Dealing with School Workers Clarified.
A new law, §1-111 Act 24 of 2011, mandates that all Pennsylvania elementary schools must background screen all new hires and existing staff for criminal history. The form that current staff must fill out asks employees to check “arrested,” “convicted,” “never been arrested,” or “never been convicted,” however the law states that only convictions of employees need to be reported. In a response to concerns surrounding this contradiction, a statement was released to clarify the law.
A publication from Fox Rothschild LLP states that “these amendments restrict those people that a school is allowed to hire, but they have almost no direct impact on the employment of those already employed. Some school administrators have mistakenly stated that these amendments require schools to fire a current employee where a prior conviction for a barred offense comes to light. While this may be true in some limited cases, it is generally not so, and neither this statute nor the companion provision in §5-527 requires termination of employment.” Read more
Convicted felon employed at middle school steals jewelry, computers
After a middle school janitor was charged in connection to jewelry and computer thefts, the School Committee Chairman of a Massachusetts school wants to know more about the school’s criminal background screening procedures. Court documents showed that the janitor pled guilty to assault and battery and breaking and entering charges in the past. Also, he was allegedly in an outpatient drug treatment program for an opiates addiction. Initial reports in the same case were for stolen MacBook Computers, iPads and other equipment. How did a criminal get employed at an elementary school? Read more
The national unemployment rate in the U.S. is declining, but still currently rests at an unsettling 9.1% – a decrease from 9.6% this time last year. In light of the quest for jobs in the current economy, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) wants to make it easier for the nation’s minority job prospects by limiting (or even eliminating) the use of criminal background checks for employers when it comes to making hiring decisions. The commission held hearings to examine employer’s use of conviction and arrest records as a potential hiring barrier.
The EEOC argues that by limiting the ability of employers to consider criminal backgrounds check employment screening tool in hiring will allow for minority applicants, specifically African Americans and Latinos to get more jobs since the two groups have the highest conviction and arrest rates as compared to non-minorities.
The U.S. Commission of Civil Rights (USCCR) however, negates the EEOC’s claims since the hearings failed to recognize scholarly reports that challenge the assumptions that African Americans are less likely to be hired when employers use criminal background checks.
In research cited by [Caroline May, The Daily Caller]:
Civil Rights Commissioners Peter Kirsanow, Gail Heriot and Todd Gaziano pointed to research from economists Harry Holzer and Stephen Rafael and public policy professor Michael Stoll, published in the Journal of Law and Economics, which showed that employers with access to background checks are actually more likely to hire African Americans, especially African American men, than those without access to that information.
According to the research, when a criminal background check is unavailable, some employers have been known to be more prone to discriminate against minorities like African Americans and Latinos based on crime statistics. Currently, the EEOC is still reviewing the statements by the USCCR.
When bringing a new employee on board, there’s no telling what their previous employment or criminal background was, apart from what they told you. As a hiring manager, it can sometimes be difficult to read a person who may be lying during the interview process or even trust that the background check you did was 100% accurate.
Sometimes state repositories for criminal convictions are inaccurate and not up to date, so companies can end up hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds. Another loophole in criminal record background checks is that companies will only conduct the search within the hiring state. Nowadays, most employers will conduct background checks on new employees, but if the search is limited to only the current state of residence, they could end up hiring employees with criminal records – some of them with very serious charges.
Often times, criminal records are not discovered if people committed the crimes out of state. Alternatively, employers can better protect themselves and their clients by conducting more comprehensive criminal record searches, to include but not limited to:
- Conducting county-level criminal records research everywhere a person lived, worked or attended school;
- Running a multi-jurisdictional database scan, along with county-level criminal records searches, and;
- Conducting sex offender searches in each state of residence in addition to the research mentioned above.
Change of name and address also makes it difficult to background check employees or potential employees for criminal history. With a social security trace and/or address history search as part of the background check, hiring managers can make sure they are searching the right names, aliases, counties and states for a more complete picture of an employee’s background.
City of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an ordinance that will prohibit employers from requiring job applicants to disclose their criminal backgrounds until after the first employment interview.
After a first interview, employers may perform a background check or request the disclosure of an applicant’s criminal record history.
The ordinance prohibits city agencies and private employers from knowingly inquiring about criminal backgrounds, including arrest records on the employment application. The ordinance is applicable to all employers with workforces of ten or more persons in the City of Philadelphia. As a result, this ordinance will require applicable employers to update their interview and screening process, including the employment application.