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.

New California Law to Protect Juvenile Criminal Records

New California law protects people by prohibiting the use of certain juvenile criminal records during the pre-employment screening process.  Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1843 into law in September 2016.  It is typical that California is the State leading the way in protecting the rights of individuals as they have been in the past.  With 1843 passed more states across the country will take notice and perhaps follow California’s lead.

The new law amends the labor code broadening the types of criminal background records that employers can see.  In this case it is prohibiting employers from inquiring and considering the use of juvenile criminal records in the hiring process.  When the jurisdiction was a juvenile court and the criminal records apart of the juvenile offense history then those records are considered off limits to employers and they may not use those records as part of their hiring decision process.

AB 1843 updates the labor code in regards to the use of juvenile criminal records in the hiring process.

From, the leading Human Resources industry group (posted Oct. 04, 16):

A.B. 1843 amends the labor code to broaden the types of “off limits” information that employers may not consider by prohibiting employers from inquiring about and considering information concerning or related to “an arrest, detention, process, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition” that occurred while the applicant or employee was subject to the process and jurisdiction of a juvenile court (juvenile offense history).

The bill also excludes from the labor code’s definition of “conviction” an adjudication by a juvenile court or any other court order or action taken with respect to a person who is under the process and jurisdiction of a juvenile court.

As new laws such as 1843 are passed across the country it is clear that employers need to take note of such changes and make any necessary changes to their employment screening practices in order to stay compliant with an ever changing legal landscape.  As California has taken the lead on making it easier for individuals with a juvenile criminal past to get a job by prohibiting employers from using this information, it is in step with a national movement to clear the slate for adult past offenders and open the door for those with a criminal past to achieve gainful employment and be successfully integrated into a productive and crime free society.

To read more about this subject read recent press release.

Criminal Records and Ban-the-Box Legislation Still a Struggle

Pre-employment background screening incorporates criminal background checks into its process but Ban-the-Box legislation is changing the legal landscape.  Originally thought to help level the playing field for applicants looking for work ban-the-box has recently met criticism.

With the simple goal of eliminating the question of criminal history on job applications ban-the-box legislation has swept across the nation.  Proponents of this movement believe that this one question severely limits the fair and equal opportunity of all job candidates.  Currently the USA has the highest incarceration rates in the world, and more needs to be done to reintegrate past offenders into free society and eliminating the question of past criminal history it is believed would be a big step in achieving that end.

It is widely believed that recidivism is more likely if a previous offender is released back into society and cannot get a job.  Certain States and jurisdictions have their own laws that can limit how far back an employer can look into the past of an applicant’s criminal history.  This would definitely help applicants that have been out of prison for over 7 years or that have criminal background records over a certain time frame, but it wouldn’t help people that have just been released from prison or recently accumulated a criminal record that did not require prison time.  However, even with ban-the-box legislation the outcome in at least one study showed that employers may discriminate based on race when they can’t ask if the applicant has a criminal history.

Recent studies indicate that ban-the-box legislation may not be helping when it comes to race as a proxy for criminal history.

From the Nation Law Review (, Sep 09, 16):

New research by Amanda Agan, a Princeton economist, and Sonja Starr, a legal scholar at the University of Michigan, suggests that, at least in some cases, “ban the box” rules may result in the use of race as a proxy for criminal history. This may increase racial disparity in hiring– even in the absence of criminal histories. (1)

Troubling conclusions came from this research.

The racial gap in callbacks before the ban the box laws was 7% at companies that asked applicants about criminal history. After the laws were enacted, it went up to 45%, suggesting that black applicants were presumed to have a criminal past if the prospective employer was not permitted to inquire. (2)

Although this recent study shows clearly that in this area ban-the-box was not helping minorities and in fact making it even more difficult for them to obtain gainful employment.  At this time more studies are needed and the concerted goal of the EEOC, HUD and FCRA are determined to make it easier for past offenders to get employed and become productive citizens.  Also with the highest incarceration rates in the world it is imperative that we reevaluate past offenses especially those that were non-violent and help these people get their criminal records expunged and enter the employment market with a clean slate.

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

Ban-the-Box Type Policies May Impact College Admissions

Ban-the-Box legislation has swept across the country in recent years and is now being considered by institutions of higher learning both Colleges and Universities.  As legislated by state and local jurisdictions as well as several private companies “Ban-the-Box” eliminates the question of criminal history on the application and controls when a criminal background check can be conducted.

From (Apr. 29, 16):

(1)   The long-running “Ban the Box” campaign is now gaining ground at colleges and universities. The movement aims to protect job, and now student, applicants from being asked about their criminal histories and was recently bolstered by President Obama, who is taking executive action to ban the practice at federal agencies. Campus officials say the background question helps them learn as much as possible about prospective students and allows them to take steps to keep everyone on campus safe. But opponents say the question—which requires prospective students to check a box if they have criminal histories—is an undue barrier that harms certain groups of students.

New York University now will no longer consider every criminal conviction on an applicant’s record regardless of severity as part of their undergraduate admissions process.  Instead the University will use a new set of questions such as has the applicant been convicted of or disciplined for violent incidents.  Additionally research has shown that the question of past criminal history records does not predict future behavior in a significant way.

Also from (Aug. 02, 16):

(1)   Studies have shown that having the box on college applications doesn’t make campuses any safer, and NYU reached the same conclusion after an internal assessment of its own disciplinary records. “NYU took a look at the NYU disciplinary records of enrolled students who had checked the box against the overall undergraduate NYU population,” Knoll-Finn stated. “We found no meaningful differences in the rates of infractions.”

Changes in background screening have been developing very quickly over the past few years with major changes being seen in the employment screening arena and the tenant screening arena.  It was just a matter of time before Colleges and Universities started to examine their own application process and admissions policies.  Starting with what questions to ask for along with how they evaluate information derived from student applications.  This new trend of admission polices being seriously scrutinized had led to meaningful changes to the standard admission application process.  This new readiness highlights a new area where third party background screening companies can be utilized to assist Colleges and Universities make significant changes to their applicant background screening process.  These background screening companies can assist the institutions of higher learning to develop and conduct applicant background checks that is compliant with all relevant laws and that help students with a criminal past have a shot at bettering their life.

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


Background Screening of Coaches Should be Mandatory

In recent history across the country more coaches have been found to commit crimes and still were able to coach.  In Maryland a soccer organization changed their background screening policies after a coach was arrested for illicit behavior with a minor.  A rowing coach in Michigan was arrested for illegally recording female students changing from standard clothing to athletic outfits.  In Florida a high school coach was arrested for drug related offenses which sparked an investigation.  The school district said it would work to ensure that people with a criminal past don’t slip through the cracks.  Previously an assistant coach failed to disclose his criminal history on an employment application and was recently accused of running a multi-state drug ring.  The goal for this school district and other organizations hiring coaches is to strengthen their employment screening efforts in order to protect children who are considered an at-risk population.

The best way to deter malfeasant coaching applications and thwart previous criminals from gaining access to at-risk populations in positions including coaching positions is to create a strong background screening policy that is thorough and current.  Such a policy if implemented and well publicized creates a barrier to entry that acts as a deterrent for individuals seeking to harm or exploit at-risk populations primarily children or young adults.  With all these current headlines about coaches with criminal pasts and previous behavior of harming or exploiting children and young adults it should be mandatory across the country for all coaching positions to go through a rigorous vetting process before hiring them.

The best way a school or other organization can help prevent crimes against children is to work with a professional third-party background screening company.  Such an alliance can help create a background screening process that deters certain criminals from gaining employment as a coach or other position with unsupervised time with children.  Additionally the background screening company has the ability to conduct multiple kinds of background checks to thoroughly vet all job applicants.  Reports include criminal background checks, social security number trace, federal courts search, driving records check, employment verification, education verification and the all-important personal and professional reference checks.

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


Critical Reports Beyond Criminal History

Modern day pre-employment background screening has moved beyond just criminal background checks.  Alternative background reports like driving record checks and professional verifications are also being used by human resource professionals across the nation.  The HR personnel understand the importance of working with a third party background screening company to get all the background reports available in order to help them make intelligent and well informed hiring decisions.

With increased scrutiny over the use of criminal background records in the employment screening process it is still one of the most important employment background checks to perform.  However, if an employer compliments a criminal records check with a driving record check, social security number validation with address history trace and professional verifications like education verification and employment verification a better picture emerges as to the viability of a job applicant.

Looking into prospective employee’s driving history is a worthwhile background check even if the job does not require much driving.  A single motor vehicle incident can create a significant liability to a company.  More information is always the best choice as the chances of the wrong person falling through the cracks is drastically reduced and the goal of risk mitigation is achieved.

Criminal background checks with driving record history, SSN validation w/address history and professional verifications combined create a powerful barrier for malfeasant and high risk job candidates from getting through the vetting process.

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

Lying on Resumes an Easy Catch with a Background Check

Its graduation season and the economy has been showing signs of slowing down making competition for jobs even harder.  Some job candidates may think it worth lying on their resume to make them look more appealing to employers.  Stretching the truth is one thing but flat out lying about a degree earned or achievement received is a bad idea.

From (May 06, 16):

… concerns are rising that the U.S. economy is losing momentum. Growth is off to a slow start in 2016. Experts anticipate a spring bounce, but the sluggish April jobs report suggests that pop is either delayed or not going to be that strong. (1)

The temptation to lie or stretch the truth in order to get that dream job or that position that would be a great place to start a career can be very high most especially in a tough economy.  These job candidates that think telling lies on a resume won’t hurt them or ever be discovered are certainly not knowledgeable about the employment screening industry.  The fact is that most employer’s higher third party background screening companies to perform background checks on their potential hires.  These employment background checks typically include criminal background checks, education verification, previous employment verification (if applicable), personal and professional references and a social security number search with address history trace.  These background checks would weed out almost any lye on a resume and the truth would be discovered.

If a potential employer finds out that a job applicant lied on their resume it usually means immediate disqualification for the candidate.  In the end it just isn’t worth lying on a resume, it usually does not pay off.  Even if the employer fails to perform the necessary background checks before hiring and actually hires a job applicant with a false resume, then many times in the future it will be discovered that the new hire did in fact lie on their resume.  At this point the company would usually fire the employee for falsifying their resume and once fired for this reason it would make it even more difficult for this person to find another job after that incident.
To read more about this subject read recent press release found at:


Summer is Coming Time for Camp and Volunteer Background Checks

All across the USA there are millions of family’s that send their kids to summer camp or other summer related youth programs.  These programs usually entail children spending unsupervised time with camp counselors or other youth program volunteers.  Since children fall into the at-risk population it is imperative that all those spending time with children undergo a criminal background check.  A volunteer background check should include a comprehensive national criminal background check, national sex offender registry search and reference checks before being entrusted to an at-risk population.

Whether a camp involves overnight stay or just a day camp, all volunteers should be background checked.  A complete and thorough background check can act as a deterrent to predators.

In New Orleans the recent arrest of a volunteer baseball coach highlights a clear need for background screening.

From (Mar. 10, 16):

(1)               …questions about the screening process arose after… a former football, baseball and basketball coach who had volunteered for decades, was arrested in October. In February, a grand jury charged him with aggravated rape of a child younger than 13, four counts of sexual battery, four counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and nine counts of production of pornography involving juveniles.

This incident further highlights the importance of a thorough background screening of anyone spending unsupervised time with children including counselors, coaches and volunteers.  Combining court records/public records along with an in-depth interview and if relevant a credentials check these steps collectively will act as a deterrent against potential predators and will help weed out persons with a criminal past that may prove detrimental to at-risk populations like children.  This is why it is extremely important for organizations hiring volunteers to properly background check all their employees and volunteer help through a well-qualified third-party background screening company as a best practice for parents, volunteer groups and organizations.

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


Use of Criminal Histories Being Scrutinized in Employment Screening

As laws change regarding the legal and lawful use of criminal history checks in the pre-employment background screening process compliance becomes an issue.  As ban-the-box legislation continues to spread across the country companies and organizations need to make sure their employment screening policies are compliant with all relevant laws.  As ban-the-box legislation gets adopted by cities, counties and states it is important now more than ever that companies and organizations use a professional third party background screening company to help them remain compliant and insuring they are in good standing with the FCRA.

New laws like ban-the box which makes employers remove the question asking the applicant if they have a criminal record can cause confusion with companies and organizations.  This confusion however can be avoided by utilizing a professional national background screening company to conduct the criminal background checks on their behalf.

Criminal checks even under ban-the-box can still be performed by companies and organizations prior to employment.  However, they have to wait until a conditional offer is made before checking if the job applicant has a criminal history.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is tasked with enforcing discrimination laws and seeks legal action against companies and organizations that maintain discriminatory hiring practices.  The EEOC and ban-the-box legislation are trying to ensure an even playing field for all job applicants even those with a criminal past.  Recent legislation across the country aims to create a fair and equal entry to employment.

In the current employment screening climate employers should work with third party background screening companies to help them become or remain compliant with federal, state and local laws governing the use of criminal records, consumer reports and/or public records.

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