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Background Checks - How to Legally Dig Dirt So Your Organization Does Not Get Mud on Its Face

BLR/HR Hero Webinar

March 22, 2012


Title: Background Checks: How to Legally Dig Dirt Amid Emerging Employment Screening Trends So Your Organization Doesn’t Wind Up with Mud on Its Face

(Alternate Title: Background Checks: How to Legally Use Credit Inquires, Social Media Searches, and More)

Date/Time: March 22, 2012 from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm ET (10:30 am to 12:00 noon PT)

Speaker: Attorney Les Rosen, CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR)

Related Article – 'Top 10 Trends in Background Checks for 2012: EEOC Scrutiny of Criminal Background Checks Heads List' by Attorney Lester Rosen.


Some form of a background check on applicants and employees is a must in this day and age. The Internet is a tempting place to start – after all, you can verify whether someone’s resume matches up with his or her LinkedIn page. But snooping online comes with risk. Overstep your bounds and you could face an invasion of privacy claim.

Don’t check into applicants and employees histories enough, whether through online sources, public records, past employers, your state’s department of motor vehicles, etc., and you could find yourself staring down a negligent hiring or retention claim if they take a turn for the dark side.

Plus, you could be staring down a lawsuit or a governmental investigation if you overstep your bounds when conducting credit checks. What does this all mean? It’s time for an update on how to legally conduct background checks so you don’t violate federal law. It’s also time to learn the types of employment screening tools that are on trend right now.


Participants will learn the latest on the types of employment screening tools designed to dig the dirt on applicants and employees, as well as how to ensure that their snooping practices don’t run afoul to federal law.

Also, the presenter will provide examples on how certain states’ laws have become stringent: Translation—employers in those jurisdictions may have fewer tools to conduct background checks (e.g., Maryland and California legislation on credit checks).

Recent Developments:

Negligent hiring and retention claims can cost your organization dearly. Just ask one Kansas-based timber company that was ordered to shell out $7 million to the family of an individual killed in a motor vehicle accident involving one of the timber company’s truck drivers. The family’s wrongful lawsuit claimed the company was negligent for the death because it shouldn’t have hired the driver without conducting a basic $15 background check on him—if it had, it would have learned that he had his license revoked twice and had a history of unsafe driving, a press release published by the Kansas City Star indicated. 

Also, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently obtained a $3.13 million settlement in a case alleging that Pepsi Beverages’ hiring practices, which included the use of criminal background checks, discriminated against black applicants. “The EEOC’s investigation revealed that more than 300 African Americans were adversely affected when Pepsi applied a criminal background check policy that disproportionately excluded black applicants from permanent employment.  Under Pepsi’s former policy, job applicants who had been arrested pending prosecution were not hired for a permanent job even if they had never been convicted of any offense,” the federal agency noted in a recent press release, adding “[t]he use of arrest and conviction records to deny employment can be illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when it is not relevant for the job, because it can limit the employment opportunities of applicants or workers based on their race or ethnicity.”

Talking Points:

  • Where federal law stands on performing credit checks and what you can do to stay on its good side
  • Which states currently limit the use of credit checks in employment and likely legislation that could be on the horizon
  • What you need to know about the Fair Credit Reporting Act so you don’t overstep your legal bounds when conducting Internet searches
  • How to use public records as an effective tool for conducting background checks – and what in particular you should be looking for
  • The limitations the law places on using information gleaned from applicants’ and employees’ behavior on social-networking sites
  • The types of background checks that are absolutely recommended for all employers, so they can verify that applicants are who they say they are
  • What tools can an employer use in-house to increase the chances of hiring safe and qualified employees, including the application, interview and past employment check process
  • How does new technology impact background checks?
  • The new employment screening trends that we’ll be seeing much more of as 2012 goes on

Speaker Bio:

Lester S. Rosen, the founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), is a consultant, writer and frequent presenter nationwide on pre-employment screening and safe hiring issues. His speaking appearances have included numerous national and statewide conferences. He has qualified and testified in the California, Florida, and Arkansas Superior Court as an employment screening expert on issues surrounding safe hiring and due diligence. In 2000, he testified as an expert on background screening on behalf of the plaintiff in a case where the jury awarded 9.3 million dollars to the family of a doctor murdered by a carpet cleaner who was hired without any background investigation.

He is the author of "The Safe Hiring Manual - The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Imposters, and Terrorists out of the Workplace" (Facts on Demand Publications). He is also featured as the narrator in a 23 minute training video by Kantola Productions called "Safe Hiring: How You Can Avoid Bad Hires."  He has also written "The Safe Hiring Audit," has written and appeared in a training DVD on negligent hiring, and has produced the first industry course on background checks (See:

Mr. Rosen was the chairperson of the steering committee that founded the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a professional trade organization for the screening industry which has nearly 300 members. He was also elected to the first board of directors and served as the co-chairman in 2004.
As a recognized expert in background screening, Mr. Rosen has been quoted by USA Today, Businessweek, Reuters, Christian Science Monitor, HR Magazine, and numerous newspapers, websites and trade journals across the United States. He has also been active in working on legislation in California. In 2002, he worked with the California legislature to amend AB 655, a law that adversely affected employers in the area of reference checks and hiring in California.  He continues to be involved in working on California legislation effecting employers.

Mr. Rosen graduated UCLA with Phi Beta Kappa honors, and received a J.D. degree from the University of California at Davis School of Law, serving on the school Law Review. After practicing in a large Los Angeles law firm for three years with an emphasis in civil litigation and employment law, he joined the Riverside County District Attorneys office. His duties included career criminal and homicide prosecutions.  He opened a private criminal law practice in Marin County in 1985. He specialized in criminal law and his practice has included federal crimes and death penalty cases. He holds the highest attorney rating of A.V. in Martindale-Hubbell. He has served as an adjunct professor of law teaching criminal law and procedure at Hastings College of the Law, and has served as faculty member and program chairman of the nationally recognized Hastings College of Trial Advocacy.

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