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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Most often the First Contact HR blog reports on trends, topics and news relating to background screening and other human resource practices for businesses. However, the need to background screen is not only pertinent to companies seeking to screen employees and applicants, but also to individuals and families seeking to hire a responsible person to provide part-time or full-time services such as childcare, elder care or home-cleaning services.
The need to hire responsible childcare providers is on the rise as the economy continues to rebound and parents find themselves once again gainfully employed. The decision to hire a qualified individual to watch over children while parents and or guardians are absent is one that should not be taken lightly.
The need to screen the individual who will provide childcare to minors is very important and highly recommended. Only two months into the year 2012, and the U.S. has already seen a high number of breaking news stories dealing with unfortunate incidents involving babysitters.
Here are some recent headlines and stories:
Montco Man Charged With Molesting Girl While Advertising Online As Babysitter
After advertising for babysitting jobs, a local man is accused of molesting a child he was supposed to be caring for. We are now learning our reporting is prompting a major online investigation. Read more
Babysitter sentenced to 40 years in prison for toddler’s death
A Springfield woman convicted of murdering an 18-month-old boy for whom she was babysitting was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in prison. Read more
Babysitter sentenced to 10 years for shaking baby
Washington state woman, who admitted to violently shaking a baby left in her care, received the maximum sentence of 10 years. ”She murdered who my child was supposed to be,” said the child’s mother, Jaime Thompson. Read more
Babysitter pleads not guilty to murder
The 28-year-old Hardin County babysitter who police say beat to death the little girl she was caring for answered to her upgraded charges. Ashley Chapman pled not guilty to murder Tuesday morning. Read more
So what can parents do to protect their children and ensure that those they interview or even find online are trustworthy? Certainly, you can start by hiring a reputable firm to perform a background check on the individual.
Here are some things to keep in mind when performing a babysitter background check:
- You’ll need to get written permission from the applicant prior to performing a background check
- To obtain the most relevant job-related information such as motor vehicle records and sex offender registry information, you will need to obtain information such as previous addresses the applicant lived, a social security number, and birth date.
- Ask prospective babysitters to provide references from previous employers (not friends and family).
- Ask question about work ethic, previous employment responsibility, etc.
- Determine the type of background check you will perform. Background checks can range from a simple social security trace to a full package, thoroughly investigating the individual’s history. Contact a background screening firm such as First Contact HR to either perform the check, or advise you on what background screening plan you should put together.
With sites like Sittercity.com and Care.com, it’s impossible to know the full history of an individual you find online – even after the interview process. Let a background screening and human resource consulting firm help you be certain that you’ve hired the right person to childcare to precious members of your family.
PepsiCo Inc.’s bottling unit, Pepsi Beverages, has agreed to settle federal racial-discrimination charges as well as pledged to provide job training and new roles, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
PepsiCo Inc. provided a statement that said the EEOC did not find any intentional discrimination. However, the company’s former criminal background check policy disproportionately barred approximately 300 black job applicants from employment. The EEOC, which enforces employment discrimination laws, said in a release that based on an investigation, “found reasonable cause to believe” that PepsiCo Inc.’s former criminal background check policy discriminated against black people.
The former policy and practice exercised by the company used the checks to screen out job applicants who had arrest records – even if they were never convicted of a crime. The policy resulted in limiting job opportunities for minorities, who statistically have higher arrest rates than whites.
The monetary settlement is being allocated in part to the claims process but primarily to division amongst black applicants for new positions at Pepsi. The company has also agreed to submit regular reports to the EEOC on its hiring process and offer anti-discrimination training to hiring managers.
Read EEOC press release: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/1-11-12a.cfm
(The comments below are part of First Contact HR’s opinion column where we offer the writer’s opinion on this post’s specific topic and thus should not be taken as legal advice.)
While it is unfortunate, PepsiCo Inc. was faced with claims of discrimination; it is commendable that the company has recognized its discriminatory policy and is taking steps towards creating a more diverse work environment. In the case of hiring, the EEOC clearly states: “There is no Federal law that clearly prohibits an employer from asking about arrest and conviction records. However, using such records as an absolute measure to prevent an individual from being hired could limit the employment opportunities of some protected groups and thus cannot be used in this way.”
Pepsi overlooked this guideline, which could have been avoided had their HR department worked with a background screening company that could make sure their screening policies were aligned with the EEOC guidelines. Pepsi’s former policy not only limited employment opportunities for minorities by considering arrest records as a component of background screening, it also failed to take into consideration the applicant’s arrest as it related to the specific job.
First Contact HR advises its clients to only consider criminal conviction records that are job related before taking any adverse action against job candidates. Further, First Contact HR recommends employers always exercise good judgment and proposes the following ten (10) criteria for employers to consider when criminal record hits are discovered in background screening reports:
- The nature, extent and seriousness of the conduct /conviction;
- The circumstances surrounding the conduct;
- The frequency of the conduct;
- How recently the conduct occurred;
- The individual’s age and maturity at the time of the conduct;
- The presence or absence of rehabilitation and other pertinent behavior changes;
- The potential for pressure, coercion, exploitation, or duress;
- The likelihood of continuation of the conduct;
- How, and if, the conduct bears upon potential job responsibilities; and
- The individual’s employment history before and after the conduct.
After applying to a volunteer coaching position in May 2010 at Juaniata College in Huntingdon, PA, college officials who did their due-diligence turned Jerry Sandusky down. Hiring personnel at the college denied Sandusky the position after conducting a background investigation and were made aware of the ex-Penn State assistant coach’s alleged improper behavior at a previous school.
Sandusky is currently at the forefront of a sexual abuse scandal, where he is being charged with 40 counts of molestation charges towards young boys over a 15-year period.
Although he failed a background check and was told by the Pennsylvania college’s administrators that they did not want him associated with their sports program, Sandusky still managed to serve as a “consultant.” Read more
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