Category Archives: Employment Screening

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.

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 (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.

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 (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.

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:

Ban-The-Box is Prompting Employers to Review Employment Screening Policies

The Ban-the-Box initiative is showing a trend across the nation as more cities and States add such legislation forcing employers in those jurisdictions to review their employment screening policies. As Ban-the-Box laws get passed employers who have to abide by these new laws cannot immediately disqualify a job candidate due to checking off the box that asks if the applicant has a criminal record or not. Instead employers need to wait until at least an interview with the applicant has taken place and cannot run criminal background checks on the job applicant until after that interview or before hiring if the candidate was in fact otherwise qualified for the job.

Ban-the-Box has become a catalyst for employment screening policy revisions across the country. It is important for employers to understand these laws so their employment screening policies and procedures are compliant with new laws governing the use of background checks in the hiring process. Employers should partner with a professional third party background screening company to help them become and remain compliant in a rapidly changing employment screening environment. To read more about this subject read recent press release found at:


Laws Changing on Use of Criminal History Reports

All across the country lawmakers are changing laws pertaining to the use of criminal history reports in the employment screening process. Recently the city of Portland Oregon enacted ban-the-box laws for employers making them remove questions concerning criminal history from their initial job applications. It is important that employers keep current with new laws governing the use of criminal background checks in the hiring process. A good way to stay ahead is to partner with a third party background screening company who is well versed in the laws pertaining to the use of criminal history reports in the employment screening process. As more city and State governments enact ban-the-box laws the employers within those jurisdictions need to adhere to these new laws and understand how it affects their hiring process. Employers need to understand when they are allowed to run a criminal background check in the hiring process and when they are not allowed to. Most new ban-the-box related legislation forbid the asking of criminal history at the initial application process and typically allow for a background check after an interview when the job applicant has qualified for the job in question. To learn more about ban-the-box legislation and when criminal history checks are allowed in the employment screening process read recent press release found at:


Don’t Under Estimate the Importance of Risk Mitigation

The underlying motive of background screening is risk mitigation and it is a critical part of any successful pre-employment screening process. Background screening reports that should be utilized in the hiring process include criminal record checks, social security number validation, driving records (when applicable), consumer credit reports (when necessary), and sex offender registry checks. These background reports along with a thorough in person interview and credentials check together reduce the chances of making a bad hire and reducing the risks associated with a bad employee. Risk mitigation achieved through professional employment background screening protects a company or organization, protects other employees already in place and customers or others that they may come in contact with while working for the company or organization. To read more about this subject read recent press release found at:

Employment Screening Planning for 2013

With new Employment Screening guidelines from the EEOC along with new state laws and E-Verify checks it is time to partner with a professional third party employment screening company for the new year. Utilizing background checks and background screening from a professional third party employment screening company will enable Human Resources to make hiring decisions faster and more confidently. It is very advantageous for businesses going into the New Year to have a background screening company in place to help them make hiring decisions that are compliant with new laws and to avoid discrimination. For businesses of all sizes in the USA, has the ability and industry knowledge to provide the background reports required for pre-employment screening in a compliant, secure and affordable manner. To read more about this subject read recent press release found at:

EEOC – Pepsi Beverages Background Check Policy has Disparate Impact on Black Job Candidates

The EEOC has put a greater focus on criminal background checks in the employment screening process. Their investigation of Pepsi Beverages resulted in a restitution fine of $3.13 million that Pepsi must pay along with having to make changes to their hiring process. The EEOC investigation found that over 300 African Americans were adversely affected by their criminal background check policy that disproportionately excluded black applicants from permanent employment. Pepsi was using arrest records as part of their employment screening even if no criminal conviction was made. does not include arrest records in their criminal reports unless a conviction was made, this decision was made years ago to avoid discrimination and to help employers make hiring decisions based on criminal convictions and not arrest records which by themselves reveal no criminal history. To read more about this subject read recent press release found at:

Public Records

Public records as defined in the USA are any publically available records, particularly court records. Public records range from criminal records to eviction records. Any American can go to a county court house and lookup public records themselves. However, these days with the advent of the Internet and large scale databases many people lookup public records like criminal records online through a third party background checking company like To read more about public records please visit “Public Records” page found at:


Reduce Threat, Increase Safety enter Risk Mitigation

Risk mitigation in background screening translates to safety primarily for employment screening, but also extends into background checks on caregivers, nannies and individuals working with at-risk populations like children and the elderly. Utilizing a professional third party background screening company like is a powerful way to enact risk mitigation and reduce threats while increasing safety. Creating a safe working environment starts with sound employment screening to protect current and new employees and risk mitigation is a great strategy to protect employers and employees. To read more about what risk mitigation is and how it affects employers read recent press release found at:


EEOC Exposes Discrimination in use of Criminal History Searches

New EEOC Enforcement Guidance Document expresses discrimination concerns of the use of criminal history searches in modern day employment screening practices.  The document emphasizes the huge race and national origin disparity shown by the number of arrests; convictions and prison time of minorities verse Whites. This disparity makes it much more difficult for minorities to get jobs and thus increases recidivism based on lack of opportunity continuing the vicious cycle that stagnates the problem and doesn’t seek to fix it.

The Enforcement Guidance states that in the USA as many as 1 in 3 African American men and 1 in 6 Hispanic men are expected to serve time in prison verses only 1 in 17 White men.  It is quoted that, “African Americans and Hispanics are arrested at a rate that is 2 to 3 times their proportion of the general population (assuming that current incarceration rates remain unchanged).
View full Press Release on the subject at: