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 this day and age, companies are becoming increasingly concerned with their financial well-being and corporate responsibility. For most of them, this means ensuring employee safety and candor in the work place.
Background screening companies like First Contact HR are here to keep company work environments safe by mitigating risky hires, while also remaining legally compliant. Providing background checks means background screening companies must have a high standard for legal integrity to help their clients make the best hiring decisions.
They’re being called the “perversion files” – a record of previously confidential files listing the names of 1,200 Boy Scout of America officials and scoutmasters who are accused of abusing young boys over a period of two decades.
The files released Thursday, October 19 contain more than 15,000 pages detailing accusations of the sexual abuse against scout leaders and officials between 1965 and 1985. The list of names in the documents were deemed “ineligible volunteers” and include those who are accused of sexual abuse towards the minors they came into contact with during boy scout meetings and functions.
Police are now responding to 523 of the alleged cases. The files were kept confidential – until now – and represent all that the Boy Scouts of America could have done to protect their young members, but didn’t. Continue reading
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.
There has been a surge in legislation across the U.S. with the goal of curtailing employer use of criminal records that bar employment opportunities for ex-offenders. Take for example the new EEOC guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records and the proliferation of “ban-the-box” laws.
With the enactment of the 2010 Massachusetts Criminal Offender Records Information (CORI) Reform bill, employers face a wave of changes in their use and access to criminal records.
On April 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new Enforcement Guidance on use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions.
As a result, the new EEOC Enforcement Guidance aims to prohibit employers from using “blanket prohibitions” against hiring anyone with any kind of a criminal records, no matter how old the conviction and no matter what the prior offense may have been. When making employment decisions based on conviction records, employers should take a three (3) factor approach:
- The nature or gravity of the offense or conduct;
- The time elapsed since the offense, conviction; and/or completion of the sentence; and
- The nature of the job sought or held.
More specifically, the Enforcement Guidance provides two circumstances in which an employer’s criminal conviction policy will “consistently meet” Title VII’s “job-related” and consistent with business necessity” defense. According to the EEOC, these circumstances include:
- employers who are able to validate their use of background screening policies and practices as a business necessity will meet the defense, or;
- develop a targeted, three (3) factor screening approach (as outlined above), and provide subjects with criminal records an opportunity for an “individualized assessment.”
Other defenses for employers to consider involve compliance with federal or state laws that are specific to their business. For instance, the FDIC Act requires banks to conduct criminal background checks on applicants and restricts their ability to hire individuals with certain conviction histories. Under these circumstances, this would be valid defense for claim of discrimination brought by an applicant or employee under title VII.
With the new EEOC Enforcement Guidance in place, here are some best practice tips and action steps for employers to consider:
Best Practice tips for employers:
- Eliminate policies and practices that impose blanket prohibitions to employment based on any conviction;
- Do not request arrest records from applicants;
- Educate and train hiring managers and decision-makers about appropriate use of conviction history in hiring and promotion, and separation;
- Revise screening procedures to ensure that they are job related and consistent with business necessity;
- Do not ask applicants for disclosure of convictions that are not job related and consistent with business necessity, and;
- Keep information about applicants’ and employees’ conviction history confidential.
Employer Action Steps:
- Review background screening policies and practices in light of the new guidance, and;
- Make adjustments needed to the extent practices cannot be justified as job related and consistent with business necessity, and;
- Recruiters and job interviewers must be trained in connection with the EEOC’s Guidance in order to be credible witnesses in any challenge the employer’s hiring, promotion, or separation decision-making.
On April 26, 2012 a vice dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Education resigned after questions of his academic background arose. Doug Lynch, a trusted faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, claims that he has a doctorate. His resume states that he earned his doctorate from Columbia University in 2007, yet Columbia said that he has not yet earned his Ph.D. Additionally, on the Fels institute of Government webpage, Lynch was listed as “Dr. Lynch.”
Prior to quietly resigning following an investigation by the University of Pennsylvania into the authenticity of his claimed doctoral degree, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article about Lynch being placed on leave. Read more
Fabricating facts and figures on a resume is fraud – and while it is not necessarily a crime, it is certainly a “misdemeanor offense” in the working world. Resume fabrication commonly includes lying about receiving a degree or certification, exaggerating numbers like GPA and dates worked on a particular project or job, inflating titles, providing a fake address, etc.
Those who get caught not only tarnish their reputation, but bad press is directed towards the organization that hired the individual guilty of fraud. Basically, resume fraud doesn’t look good for anyone, hence the importance of conducting education verifications in a pre-employment background check.
This is not the first time we’ve seen organizations in the limelight for hiring employees with fabricated backgrounds. Remember these?
- Ronald Zarrella, Bausch & Lomb chief executive officer claimed to have graduated from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He actually only attended the MBA program from 1972-1976, yet never graduated.
- George O’Leary, ex-Notre Dame football coach resigned five days after being hired after admitting to resume fraud. He claimed that he received his master’s degree in education from New York University, yet he never received that degree. He also lied about playing college football for the University of New Hampshire. This was also inaccurate.
- Dave Edmondson, chief executive of RadioShack claimed to have received degrees in theology and psychology from Pacific Coast Baptist College in California. As it turns out, Edmondson only completed two semesters and that psychology wasn’t even a degree that was offered by the college.
Over the past five years, the hit rate for criminal background checks has been on the decline as more nonprofit organizations background check their new hires. A recent study’s, data showed that from 2007 to 2011, more than 5.4 million background checks we conducted by nonprofits and 22 percent of those checks resulted in criminal hits.
Of that 22 percent (approximately 479,000), background checks revealed very serious kidnapping, murder, sex-related and drug-related offenses. While it is shocking to know that criminals who have been convicted of kidnapping or molestation could be working amongst children, elders and people in need, we know that criminals go where they know they can get in “under the radar” – organizations [they know] do not conduct background checks.
In organizations working with children, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, background checks are a must; the study found that 1,021 of the criminal hits were registered sex offenders, 603 convictions for kidnapping and 1,176 murder offenses.
What’s more is that between 2007 and 2011, 22 percent of those criminal hits also included 91,607 drug-related offenses including possession and distribution and 10,438 sex-related offenses. These figures are certainly eye-opening, but the good news is that these were hits, and thus these individuals were barred from employment at the nonprofits where they applied to work. Additionally, the number of criminals has declined over the past five years by 7 percent, according to the study.
The drop in criminal hits is attributed by the nonprofits’ use of background screening programs. When criminals know that nonprofits are conducting background checks, they seek employment somewhere else, so it is important for nonprofits to speak with background screening providers in order to mitigate risk, protect their reputations and those they seek to help.
After celebrity chef Paula Deen refused to pay a former restaurant worker to keep quiet, Lisa Jackson has decided to file a lawsuit against Paula Deen for allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Paula Deen co-owns the restaurant, Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah, Ga. with her brother, Bubba Hiers.
Deen is under fire for allegedly sexually harassing and inflicting assault and emotional distress on her employees, using the N-word and creating a hostile working environment. The lawsuit comes after a recent wave of criticism following Deen’s public coming out with her having Type 2 Diabetes.
In one incident, Jackson alleges that Hiers requested that she bring to work pornographic pictures of herself. In her lawsuit, Jackson claims Hiers viewed Internet pornography at the restaurant, drank on the job, made sexually charged comments to her and other staff members, kissed her and spat at her. Jackson, further alleges that both Deen and Hiers frequently made racist comments and used the N-word.
Jackson is seeking unspecified damages.
Photo: AP photo