New 2018 Laws Should Prompt Review of Employment Screening Policies

Laws governing the use of public records such as criminal background records continue to be enacted across the country.  Starting January 1st 2018 the new California Fair Chance Act goes into effect which will ban employers in the state from asking job applicants about their criminal history before making a conditional offer of employment or inquiring about a job applicant’s salary history.

Of the recent changes to law in California the elimination of the question regarding criminal history from the application as well as inquiry about salary history are significant.  These two changes alone should alert hiring managers and HR departments to review all existing pre-employment background screening policies in order to ensure compliance with all existing and upcoming law.  This should cause employers in other States to also review their employment screening policies and procedures to get a jump on almost inevitable changes to employment screening laws in their respective jurisdictions.

The California Fair Chance Act is a significant change from previous ban-the-box laws.

From the San Francisco Chronicle (Dec. 27, 18):

Experts say the most significant new law is AB2008, the California Fair Chance Act. It prohibits public- and private-sector employers with five or more employees from seeking information about a prospective worker’s criminal history in job applications or interviews or running a criminal background check until a “conditional offer of employment” has been made. The goal is to reduce recidivism by preventing employers from rejecting ex-offenders out of hand.

The act goes further than California’s existing “ban-the-box” law, which prevents employers from asking applicants about arrest records that did not result in a conviction, juvenile offenses, expunged convictions and non-felony marijuana-possession convictions more than 2 years old. The existing law also prohibits state and local government agencies (but not companies or federal agencies) from asking applicants about criminal convictions until the agency determined that the applicant meets minimum employment qualifications.

California being the most populous State in the Union brings even greater significance to these recent changes in law surrounding the employment arena and makes an enormous difference to how employers are allowed to go about the hiring process.  Being a progressive State, California is seeking to reduce recidivism by giving past criminal offenders a fair chance at gaining employment hoping that by being employed will lessen the possibility of past offenders from committing another crime.  Also by not allowing employers to ask job applicants for their previous salaries or wages on the application form should result in an increased opportunity for new employees to get a higher income offer than if they told the employer what they had made in the past.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found here: New Laws in 2018 Remind Business to Review Pre-Employment Background Screening Policies

Caregivers Critical to Daily Life

With an aging populous caregivers become critical to daily life in the USA.  This at-risk group is often under the care of in-home caregivers or staff at an assisted living home or nursing home.  Due to the vulnerability of the elderly it is imperative that caregivers given access to them go through a vigorous background screening process before being allowed unsupervised time with them.  This includes a professional criminal background check, reference check, SSN Trace, license verification and in-person interview.

Understanding the details of an individual’s past provides insight into their potential future.  A background check is designed to mitigate risk.  Most companies perform an employment background check on potential hires that make it past the application phase of the hiring process.  However, some States and Jurisdictions in the USA have laws in place that prohibit asking the job applicant whether or not they have a criminal record on the application form.  In these instances an employer can only perform a background check after an initial offer of employment is made.

The issue with hiring caregivers is that in many circumstances it is the family that hires the caregiver for an elderly person in the family.  Due to a lack of knowledge regarding how to hire someone the family may forgo the background check process entirely and hire someone that may have a criminal past and/or may pose a risk to their loved one.  That is why even if the family hires the caregiver they should still use a third party background screening company to help them properly vet the caregiver before giving them access to the home and to the vulnerable.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found here: Caregiver Background Checks

Arizona Enacts Ban-the-Box Law

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey just recently signed an executive order banning the question asking about criminal history records from state employment applications.  Arizona has now joined many other States and Jurisdictions banning the question on job applications that asks whether or not the applicant has a criminal record.  The national movement has effected hiring processes and most especially the pre-employment background screening process.  In the case of Arizona the new law delay’s questions related to an employment applicant’s criminal record until after the initial stages of interviewing.  Other States and municipalities ban-the-box laws forbid the employer from performing criminal background checks on the job applicant until a conditional offer of employment is made; this also includes not inquiring about criminal history as well until after the conditional offer is made.

The new Arizona ban-the-box law only applies to state employment applications however state laws tend to trickle into the private sector meaning that businesses in Arizona should take preemptive steps in updating their employment background screening programs to reflect State law.  Now is the time to review any existing pre-employment background screening policies to ensure full compliance with existing law and potential changes in law.  Every time a state or municipality enacts ban-the-box legislation it is a clear signal to all business to make sure they are compliant with laws governing the use of public records in employment screening, especially the use of criminal background records.

From (Nov. 07, 17):

On November 6, Arizona governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order making Arizona the most recent state to adopt a “ban the box” law. The state joins Pima County and Tucson – Arizona localities that have already joined the “ban the box” movement.

Under the new policy, state agencies will delay questions related to an employment applicant’s criminal record until after the initial stages of interviewing (i.e., until an applicant has submitted an application and received an initial interview).

As the number of States and Municipalities adding ban-the-box legislation increases the likely hood that this will effect pre-employment screening laws of businesses nationwide is extremely high.  Criminal record inquires get moved from being a part of the application process to a question asked post-offer and one that has to be very specific to the position in question.

The ban-the-box movement is designed to help formerly incarcerated individuals in the USA gain a more equal footing during the job application process.  The theory is based on the fact that many employers were immediately discarding job applications from applicants that checked off that they had a criminal history.  Now without that question being asked on the initial application the thought is that ex-offenders would be given a better opportunity at gainful employment thus leveling the playing field.

With the question of criminal background history delayed the job application process should in theory become more equal for individuals with a criminal past.

It is extremely important that businesses and organizations in light of the new Arizona law review and update their hiring procedures and policies.  Additionally the best practice for creating or updating existing employment screening policies and procedures is to work with a professional USA based background screening agency to ensure compliance with all current laws and potential laws.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found at:

California Pursues Ban-The-Box Legislation

California is putting a bill forth that will make it unlawful for an employer with five or more employees to inquire about or even consider an applicant’s criminal conviction history until a conditional offer is made.  The bill is called California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act or FEHA.  They now join numerous other States that are considering such an Act as well as those that have already passed Ban-the-Box legislation.  If the California bill is passed it will require employers that have over 5 employees to follow the new rules.  This means changing their pre-employment screening policies and procedures as to not discriminate at the beginning of the job application process as to whether or not an applicant has a criminal background record.  Only after a conditional offer is made would the employer be able to run a criminal background check on the prospective employee.
The effects of the new California ban-the-box legislation could be far-reaching.

From National Law Review website (Sep. 25, 17):

The bill would make it unlawful under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) for an employer with five or more employees to inquire about or consider an applicant’s conviction history until the applicant has received a conditional offer of employment. Under the bill, an employer would be prohibited from:

  •  Including on any employment application a question that sought disclosure of an applicant’s conviction history;
  •  Inquiring into or considering the conviction history of the applicant, until after the employer has made a conditional offer of employment; and
  •  Considering, distributing, or disseminating information relating to arrests that do not result in a conviction, diversion programs, or convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated pursuant to law.

With every change in law HR departments and hiring managers should be reviewing pre-employment background screening policies and procedures.  The changes to California law, the most populous state in the country, could have overreaching consequences into other states.  Staying ahead of changes in law is what third-party background screening companies do and it is incumbent on HR Departments to also stay ahead of change.

Laws governing the use of public records, specifically criminal history records, as shown by the activity in the legislative branch in California demonstrates that change is inevitable and that means hiring procedures will need to change.  It can be overwhelming to keep up with such changes and that is why it is always a best practice for employers to work with a professional third-party employment screening company.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found here.

Background Checks for All Youth Sport Coaches

Although most employers in the USA utilize criminal background checks and other background checks as part of their employment screening process this has not occurred fully with organizations like schools, churches and any group involved with youth sports.  It seems like every day on the Internet there are articles about malfeasant coaches abusing youth athletes.
In Lafayette, Indiana an assistant boys volleyball coach was charged in child seduction and related charges.

From (Aug 22, 17)

Lafayette School Corp. Supt. Les Huddle said Barmby worked as a paraprofessional and substitute paraprofessional, in addition to being an assistant coach, for less than a year before she was terminated following the criminal investigation.

A Minnesota high school recently put a paid coach on administrative leave due to inappropriate and illegal behavior with a minor.

From (Aug 30, 17):

A Hudson High School junior varsity girls basketball coach has been placed on paid administrative leave after sexual assault-related charges were filed against him this week.

… has been charged with first-degree child sexual assault for having contact with a person under the age of 13, according to the filing. … has also been charged with repeated sexual assault of the same child, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, and for causing a child ages 13-18 to view sexual activity.

A background check on a youth coach could include:

  •     Employment and / or volunteer verification
  •     Personal reference verification
  •     Education / Certificate verification
  •     Sexual Predator registry
  •     Criminal History Record search
  •     Department of Motor vehicles record check

It is very important that organizations throughout the country perform thorough background check on all volunteer and full time personnel.  This is especially important for coaches and volunteers that have access to the youth through sports programs and other youth programs.  When it is clear to new applicants pursuing a job that gives access to the youth that an in-depth background check will be conducted on them; one that includes public records like criminal background records and other records like driving records along with employment and education verifications, in-person interview and address history trace this knowledge could prevent malfeasant applicants with a criminal past to even apply for the position.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found at:

Caregiver Background Checks

As the population continues to age in the USA the need for caregivers increases, however the continuing articles in the news show abuse in many forms to this at-risk population.  It is imperative that the US community come together in defense of the elderly in this critical time of widespread abuse from malfeasant individuals.  Taking care of and defending at-risk populations is a serious problem in this modern society and that is why thorough criminal background checks are crucial tools that must be used during the vetting process of any caregiver, especial those with access to the home and those who have unsupervised time with this vulnerable part of the population.
Background checks are generally based on public records and references and, subsequently provide an immediate and unique snapshot of an individual’s past.  When it comes to the background screening of caregivers a criminal history check must include a sex offender registry check and query from the American Most Wanted Lists.
Challenges continue to exist for at-risk populations, specifically the elderly and young children, and examples continue to appear on the headlines almost daily.

A recent investigation in New York State revealed that several employees of a nursing facility had been convicted of felonies prior to being hired to work with the elderly.

An expert commented on the situation on August 4, 2017 in a WKBW report (; Aug 04, 17):

“Nurses, and especially people working in nursing home facilities, are working with some of the most vulnerable of our population,” … “We’re talking about elderly people, people with dementia, people with memory issues, people who are most susceptible to economic crimes and to physical abuse, and people who cannot necessarily speak up for themselves because they’re in this vulnerable position in a nursing home.”

At this critical time in the evolution of the USA It is imperative that hiring managers for caregiver facilities work with a professional employment screening company to ensure compliance with existing laws and to guarantee the background reports are current and accurate.  Even families that hire caregivers on their own should also utilize a professional background screening company to thoroughly vet any new potential caregiver before giving them access to their elder family member.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found here:

Volunteer Coaches Should be Background Checked

With summer in full swing children across the country are participating in sport camps and other athletic programs.  A must for parents is that they feel their child is safe with the sporting group coaches and staff.  One way to help achieve this kind of peace of mind is to make sure that all summer camp staff including volunteer coaches undergo a thorough background check including criminal background checks, sex offender registry checks and necessary interviews and reference checks.

Recently in Kewanee Illinois local citizens requested background checks on all park district coaches.

From (Jun. 15, 17):

Two women whose children participate in the Kewanee Park District’s baseball teams addressed the park district board of commissioners Thursday night seeking background checks for all the park district’s coaches.

The women said they are concerned about those adults who volunteer to coach the park district’s youth teams after a baseball coach was taken into custody from a Kewanee baseball field earlier this week.

While the offense the baseball coach taken into custody appears minor it did create enough concern for parents to question the overall screening process of volunteer coaches.

As a society we need to protect at-risk populations like children from malicious individuals looking to find an avenue to spend time with children.  Volunteer coaching positions are one such environment that nefarious individuals would exploit to access children.  However if these individuals seeking volunteer coaching positions find out that they must first undergo a rigorous vetting process that would uncover a history of criminal records and/or sex offender records they may be less apt to apply for such a position.  A thorough background screening program that includes volunteers is a great deterrent for past offenders from applying and to catch those that try to slip through the cracks.  US Organizations that utilize volunteer coaches should partner up with a third party background screening company to properly vet all these individuals prior to giving them access to children or young adults.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found here.

Change in Direction on Drug Sentencing

A recent move by Attorney General Sessions denotes a significant change in direction for the federal government in regards to sentencing of drug offenders.  The Attorney General reinforced the need for prosecutors to seek maximum sentences on drug offenders and such a move could alter the use of criminal histories in the employment screening arena.  However, many oppose this initiative and believe it is a step in the wrong direction as it would bring back the failed drug war policies of the 1980’s.  Additionally according to the site quoting Michael Collin, deputy director at the Drug Policy Alliance stated that “This is a disastrous move that will increase the prison population, exacerbate racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and do nothing to reduce drug use or increase public safety”.

It appears that the Trump agenda is to crack down hard on drug offenders which is a big difference than the more lenient Obama era’s approach which moved away from previous statutes with mandatory minimum sentencing laws.  The Obama administration took this approach as advocates say those strict drug offense statutes were used disproportionally against minorities and led to massive overcrowding of prisons.

It is clear how quickly change can occur when a new administration takes over the Executive Branch of the government.  If the Judicial Branch starts handing down maximum drug sentences than this could affect pre-employment background screening as low level offenders which may have been previously acceptable to employers now may not be with the same type of candidates with maximum sentences showing up on their rap sheet.

With the return to maximum sentences for drug offenses there may be a reaction down the road similar to ban-the-box. Ultimately policy will change and a best practice as a hiring manager is to work with a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening company.

Anyhow, the recent move by the Attorney General should at least cause employers to review and possibly revise their employment screening policies, especially their rejectionable offense lists to determine whether a low level drug offense could or should be grounds for rejection.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found here.

Legal Marijuana in the Workplace in US Southwest

In recent history the use of legal marijuana in the USA has collided with the workplace and no more evident in the US’s Southwest States.  Such States as California, Arizona and Nevada all have some form of legal marijuana either medical marijuana and/or recreational marijuana.  Recreational marijuana is comparable to the use of alcohol.  However, even though on the State level marijuana is legal it is still unclear how marijuana users will fair against the rules of employers and if their job is safe or if they can be fired for such use even if it is legal within the State they work in.

A big question has been circulating through the country and especially in the Southwest…  The question is… How does the recent legality of marijuana use translate into the workplace and how does it affect workplace rules?

In three southwestern states – California, Arizona, and Nevada –rules relating to the workplace are subtly different.

Citizens of California recently voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.  Effective January 1, 2017 Californians can buy marijuana at dispensaries without a medical card.  Almost immediately the question of marijuana and the workplace returned to the limelight.

From (May 02, 17):

Way back when, in 2008, the California Supreme Court held that employers need not accommodate an employee’s medicinal marijuana use. And it remains the practice for many employers to enforce drug use policies specifying that the employer has a zero tolerance toward working under the influence of drugs, including newly legalized substances such as THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). Unambiguous drug use policies will put even the most dazed and confused employees on clear notice that these “legalized” substances are not tolerated at the workplace.

While the use of Marijuana in the workplace being banned is a common thread in all three states, California has the somewhat unique position in regards to random drug testing.

From (May 02, 17)

California employers may have a legitimate interest in enforcing a drug free workplace, but our Constitutional right to privacy generally protects against a random, suspicionless drug tests. Because an employer’s right to drug test relies on a balancing test (is the employee’s privacy interest outweighed by the employer’s interest in keeping the workplace safe and drug-free?), courts commonly look to whether there are less intrusive ways than random testing to protect the employer’s interest, and typically determine that there are.


Arizona’s law is more cut and dry.  As long as Marijuana is illegal under federal law it can be cause for dismissal in regards to the workplace.


Nevada is one of the more recent states to legalize medical marijuana.  As with the other two states Nevada does not allow the use or possession of marijuana in the workplace, but does require that employer’s make reasonable accommodation.

As the legalization of marijuana use becomes more widely accepted and has had a long enough time of being legal surely the current confusion with how marijuana use will be tolerated in the workplace should become more clear.  As with alcohol employers do not let their employees show up for work drunk and neither will they let them show up for work high.  But if an employer has a policy of drug testing and THC is one of the banned substances then today that individual if tested positive to the drug could get fired.  However, almost all employers in the country do not care if their employees consume alcohol when they are not working, so eventually marijuana use could be treated the same at which time employees could use marijuana on their own free time without the fear of losing their job.

Even now there will continue to be confusion, different interpretations and the creation of new laws surrounding the legalization of marijuana and how its use will affect the workplace.  A best practice for all hiring managers and HR departments is to clearly define the expectations and company rules of their employees in regards to marijuana use and clearly outline what the consequences of breaking those rules would entail.  It also helps to work with a professional employment background screening company to create or maintain compliant hiring practices.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found here.

Protecting Athletes and Campers with Background Screening

With summer approaching it is time for families to think about what their children will be doing over the long school break.  Summer opportunities for kids include summer camp, athletic camps and other events and ventures that could include staying overnight and living away from parents under the care of camp counselors, coaches, volunteers and other supervising adults.  The concern among others the parents have involve the safety of their children.  And one procedure that helps elevate this concern is that all camp counselors and adults that are going to have unsupervised time with their children is that they pass a thorough background check.

As parents weigh in on the different opportunities available to their children during summer break they often opt to send them to summer camp.

Summer camp comes in a variety of forms:

  • Day camp:  Generally a localized activity covering a single day and filled with a wide variety of activities.
  • Sleep over camp:  These camps can last from a single over-night to extended visits up to a couple of weeks or even months.
  • Theme camp:  A theme can extend to location or activity or both.  A week on a ranch in Montana tending to horses and cattle.  A weekend in the mountains learning about a different topography or geography and so on.

From (Mar. 30, 17):

Camp constitutes a place for kids to try new things, become more independent and gain self-confidence. Simple challenges for children include building fires, going on hikes or learning to ride horses; more complex situations, though, include understanding how to get along with others, learning to ask for help and trying things outside one’s comfort zone. Letting go can be difficult for parents, but it’s life-changing for kids. (1)

Camp is a great outlet for a child’s energy, time and curiosity.  As long as it takes place in a safe environment leaving the parent’s only worry being about how homesick their children might become.  Finding out that such a camp conducts rigorous background checks on all their staff brings another layer of safety that parents demand.  Included in this background screening process is always a thorough criminal background check that also queries every US States sex offender registries ensuring the camp staff has not had any sexual offenses in the past.

As a parent it is important to ask the camp what kind of background screening they conduct prior to letting them work in the camp with children.  When looking for a summer camp for a child one key component of any good camp is the thoroughness of the background check including interview and reference checks.  A complete background check is a powerful tool to utilize within any camp related screening program.  A top-notch background screening program including a solid interview dramatically increases the protection of a child from potential risk and malfeasance.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found here: