Author Archives: Criminal Background Check

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 (WKBW.com; 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.”  wkbw.com/longform/7-eyewitness-news-investigates-criminal-caregivers

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: http://www.criminalbackgroundrecords.com/news/2017-08-09-Caregiver-Background-Checks-Remain-Critical-in-the-Care-of-At-Risk-Populations.html

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 StarCourier.com (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.  starcourier.com/news/20170615/parents-ask-park-board-to-background-check-coaches

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 NPR.org 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 Lexology.com (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.  lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=a8a100c2-2e49-4896-abb3-bc43be27f823

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 Lexology.com (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.  lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=a8a100c2-2e49-4896-abb3-bc43be27f823

ARIZONA

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

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 Laduenews.com (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: http://www.criminalbackgroundrecords.com/news/2017-04-19-Its-Time-to-Protect-Young-Athletes-and-Campers-with-Thorough-Background-Screening.html

Elder Abuse Growing

The aging nation wants to believe that they will be safe and taken care of as they enter the elder years.  However, headlines show a growing epidemic of elder abuse across the USA.  Often these stories go untold and are not reported, however some of them are.  Below are some recent news articles regarding abuse to the elder population.  This highlights the need for caregiver background checks on those hired to work with the elderly and can be a great deterrent for malfeasant individuals looking to take advantage or abuse the elderly.

The risk of abuse grows the older a person gets and often the abuse comes from those hired to protect, assist, or help the elderly in everyday activities.  Illustrations of elder abuse from caregivers are rampant on the internet and stories of abuse have reached numerous news sites such as these.

Recently, in the Village of Oak Creek, Arizona, a caregiver was arrested for stealing from an elderly woman.

From VerdeNews.com (Feb. 22, 17):

…a 42-year-old caregiver of Village of Oak Creek, was arrested after the Yavapai County Sheriff’s office confirmed her as a suspect accused of stealing more than $100,000 from an elderly Sedona woman.

A family member of the legally blind 89-year-old victim contacted the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office last month to report concerns of caregiver theft. The caller indicated it appeared more than $100,000 had been stolen from the victim, according to a news release from YCSO.  verdenews.com/news/2017/feb/22/caregiver-arrested-after-allegedly-stealing-190k-e/

Forms of abuse happening in the country can have a much greater impact than theft by hired caregivers.  An extreme situation occurred in Texas.

From KCENTV.com (Feb. 21, 17)

Emily Springer, 96, died just four months after she was seriously injured in a vehicle crash. According to her family, a Visiting Angels caretaker responsible for Springer failed to properly strap her into the van, which caused her to fly out of her handicap seat and into the dashboard.

… The caretaker involved was indicted for injury to an elderly person and is awaiting criminal trial.  kcentv.com/news/local/elderly-woman-killed-by-negligent-caregiver-civil-suit-begins/409614262

In the end it is extremely important to perform thorough background checks on caretakers prior to giving them unsupervised access to the elderly.  This huge deterrent should include criminal background checks and reference checks at a minimum to help thwart the potential for abuse.

A complete in person interview as well as verification checks are also very helpful in vetting caretakers before they get hired to care for the elderly.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found here: http://www.criminalbackgroundrecords.com/news/2017-3-21-Elder-Abuse-A-Hidden-Epidemic.html

Criminal Records and the Trump Era

In recent years the use of criminal background records in employment screening and tenant screening have been making headlines across the country.  The Obama Administration attempted considerable efforts in reforming the criminal justice system.  Also the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has put forth a guidance on the fair, lawful and legal use of criminal records as part of the employment screening process.  Additionally “ban-the-box” legislation has been adopted in many States and jurisdictions across the USA.  All these changes and efforts are meant to discourage and even eliminate discrimination in the hiring process.  They also seek to give individuals with a criminal record a second chance at reintegration with mainstream society by getting a fair chance at employment along with being able to secure decent housing.

Now under the new Trump Administration criminal records continue to be in the spotlight.  Under the authority of the President Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE has been tasked with greater urgency in deporting illegal aliens with criminal records.

From the Washington Examiner (Feb. 12, 17):

Stephen Miller, the president’s policy director, said, “the cases that I’m familiar with…have to do with removing criminal aliens, individuals who have criminal charges or convictions against them. And that’s what’s been taking place all across the country. And the effect of that is going to be saving many American lives, American property and American safety. (1)

A criminal record can follow an individual for years and create a challenge for finding employment as well as housing.  Certainly, evidence of a criminal record for someone living inside the United States will cause immediate expulsion.

Swift changes in US Law by Executive Order by the Trump administration should be an eye opener for all Human Resource personnel and hiring managers to review and perhaps update their employment screening policies.  How this new administration will affect background screening and the use of criminal background checks is still unknown but making sure hiring policies and procedures are up to date and complaint is certainly worth the effort.  It is widely recommended that companies and organizations work with a professional third-party employment screening company during this process as it is considered a best practice in this industry.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found at: http://www.criminalbackgroundrecords.com/news/2017-02-15-Criminal-Records-at-Home-and-Abroad-in-the-Trump-Era.html

Caring for At-Risk Populations

A large chunk of the At-Risk population in the USA is comprised of the elderly.  In a country with an aging population, it is important that laws and regulations are in place to properly care for this part of the community.  An absolute must before letting a caregiver in a home with unsupervised time with an elderly patient is a thorough caregiver background check.  This should include a criminal background check, sex offender background check, any necessary credentials check and of course reference checks.

Without proper insurance hiring caregivers can be very expensive and puts a tremendous financial burden on the family whose member needs personal care.  Often times in such situations low cost care is sought out, however these people may not have adequate credentials or resident status to appropriately care for an elderly patient.  This situation could be disastrous and opening up the opportunity for elder abuse.  It is important that caregivers become qualified for such a profession by going through adequate training to reach sufficient qualifications.

When it comes to at-risk populations including the elderly, it is imperative that caregivers undergo a thorough background screening prior to entry into the home.

Elder abuse comes in many forms and families should be well aware of the different types.  Some may be overlooked or held inconsequential, but each are equally disruptive and devastating to the elderly.

The Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living provides information on their website regarding elder abuse and provides the following categories:

From acl.gov (https://acl.gov/newsroom/observances/WEAAD/docs/WEAAD-Factsheet-How-To-Answer-Tough-Questions.pdf)

Elder abuse refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes harm to a vulnerable elder. Elder abuse takes many forms, including:

  •    Neglect
  •    Physical abuse
  •    Sexual abuse
  •    Financial abuse and exploitation
  •    Emotional or psychological abuse and neglect (including verbal abuse and threats)
  •    Abandonment
  •    Self-neglect

In the end, the nation as a whole must take precautions to protect the aging population of this country.  That includes performing thorough background checks and getting reference checks prior to letting a caregiver in the home thus helping to protect the vulnerable part of the community.  There are several well qualified third-party background screening companies that can assist families and organizations obtain the proper background reports.  Having access to these background reports makes it easier to determine whether or not a potential caregiver is going to treat the elder patient(s) with the dignity and respect they deserve.  CriminalBackgroundRecords.com is one such company that can perform caregiver backgrounds for the purposes of protecting the elderly.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found at: http://www.criminalbackgroundrecords.com/news/2017-01-13-Caregiver-Background-Checks.html

Background Screening 101 Part 2

The background screening process may seem simple to those outside of human resource departments.  The process seems to be placing an Ad for a job position, then sorting through resumes, then having interviews for the candidates that look the most promising and then picking the best person for the job and hiring them.  This process as highlighted appears to be straight forward and rudimentary.   However, every employer needs to understand the laws that govern the employment screening industry and must remain compliant with such laws and guidelines to avoid legal action from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other agencies.  These type of agencies work to ensure that the hiring process is non-discriminatory and that all applicants have a fair chance at gainful employment.

The truth is that hiring is a complicated process these days as employers and hiring agents need to make sure their hiring process is legal and ethical and does not conflict with US Federal, State and Local laws and guidance’s.  The core of the hiring process is employment screening both pre-employment screening and post-employment screening.  This process is essential to any sound hiring practices and helps verify information on a resume and looks into the life experience and background data of a prospective employee.  Employers should utilize a third party background screening company to help them gain access to these necessary background reports and also to assist employers in creating or maintaining background screening policies that are compliant with all pertinent laws and regulations.

The use of public records, specifically consumer credit reports, is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and is enforced predominantly by the US Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The FCRA also has clear rules in its section covering employment background checks.  It states that all employers using consumer reports including criminal history reports must get written permission from the job applicant to run the background checks and must tell the applicant if the criminal record report was in-part or wholly responsible for the applicant not getting hired.  This adverse action letter must be given to the applicant along with a summary of their rights under the FCRA and the applicant has a right to dispute these records along with other rights.

Other than credit information consumer reports like criminal history reports are protected and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under the authority of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its various updates and expansions.  There are clear rules that employers have to abide by when selecting new employees.  The FCRA and EEOC make it clear how criminal records are to be utilized during the employment screening process through its documents and guidance’s.  In the end it is a best practice for employers to work with employment screening companies both for gaining access to pertinent background reports like criminal reports, SSN reports, driving records, sex offender reports and various other reports or verifications/reference checks as well as to help them create or maintain a legally compliant background screening and hiring policy.

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

Time to Review Background Screening Policies

As the year is nearing its end it is definitely time for employers to review their employment screening policies.  2016 brought about many new laws that affect what information/reports can and cannot be used in the hiring process.  Ban-the-box legislation and the recent legalization of recreational use of marijuana in many States alone requires current pre-employment screening policies to be updated to properly reflect these new legal environments.

All over the United States most businesses and organizations perform background checks on new prospective employees.  These background checks include criminal background checks and other reports that now have rules applied to them for when and how you can use them.  Information gathered from background checks deliver vital information to hiring managers looking to sufficiently vet new applicants before hiring.  However, these hiring managers in many States cannot perform criminal history checks until an initial offer is made.

Background reports can be drawn from several sources including public record repositories, county courthouses, the social security administration, unlawful detainers and internet databases.

The use of public records, specifically consumer credit reports, is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and is enforced predominantly by the US Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The use of other documents, such as criminal history reports, is protected and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under the authority of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its various updates and expansions.  There are clear rules that employers have to abide by when selecting new employees.  The FCRA and EEOC make it clear how criminal records are to be utilized during the employment screening process through its documents and guidance’s.  With the reality of such entities enforcing laws associated with hiring practices now is the time for employers to review their background screening policies and make the necessary updates to remain compliant in this new legal environment.

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