ESR Newsletter and Legal Update

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February, 2003 Vol. 3, No. 2 

Employment Screening
Resources (ESR) Newsletter and Legal Update

1. Survey: States Have Lost Track of Thousands of Sex Offenders Including 33,000 in California Alone

2. BusinessWeek Reviews “ResumeGate”-False Resumes at the Upper Level of Management

3. Marty Nemko Column on Pre-employment Screening (featuring ESR)

4. ESR to Speak at Upcoming Conferences/Meetings

1. Survey: States
Have Lost Track of Thousands of Sex Offenders including 33,000 in California

This important story is “hot
off the press” from the AP wire on February 8, 2003

“In a startling new
survey, a child advocacy group found that states across the country have lost
track of tens of thousands of rapists, child molesters and other sex offenders
who are supposed to be registered in Megan’s Law databases.

Prompted by an Associated
Press investigation that revealed
California had lost track of at least
33,000 sex offe
nders, Parents for Megan’s Law contacted all 50 states by telephone to
ask about the accuracy of their registries.

It found that states on
average were unable to account for 24 percent of sex offenders who were
supposed to be in the databases. And 18 states, including Texas and New York,
plus the District of Columbia, said they were unable to track how many sex
offenders were failing to register or simply did not know.”

Suggestion from ESR: For employers concerned about safe hiring and due
diligence, this study demonstrates the need to conduct background checks,
especially for employees that have access to a population that is at risk, such
as children, or those unable to care for themselves. The bottom line is
that in order to exercise due diligence, employers must know who they are
hiring. That includes performing
reference checks to eliminate any unexplained gaps in employment and conducting
criminal record checks in counties that are most relevant to an applicant’s
past history. Although sexual offender databases can be a valuable tool,
they cannot be relied upon as a primary source of candidate information.

2. BusinessWeek Reviews
“ResumeGate”-False Resumes at the Upper Level of Management

BusinessWeek has underscored the
issues involved in false credentials at the executive level with an article in
February, 2003 called, “ResumeGate.”
The magazine asked the question if it is really so hard to write an accurate
resume. It points out some executives who have not managed to do
it. On the list:

1. Ram Kumar-Research
Director of Institutional Shareholder Services who falsely clamed a law degree.

2. Kenneth Lonchar, the former CFO of Veritas who falsely claimed an MBA
from Stanford.

3. Ron Zarrella, CEO of Bausch & Lomb who falsely claimed an MBA from
New York University.

4. Bryan Mitchell, Chairman of MCG Capital who falsely claimed a BA in
economics form Syracuse University.

In a story in the San
Francisco Chronicle
about the situation at Veritas (10/4/2002), ESR was quoted on how easy and important it is to check educational records::

“Les Rosen, an attorney
and president of Employment Screening Services in Novato,
said checking educational references is one of the easiest and least expensive
background checks. Employers can go online, pay a fee of $12 to $15, and find
out whether a person has graduated from a particular college or university.
Many registrars’ offices will provide the information over the phone or fax,
although a release form may be required.

The information can save the
employer and candidate embarrassment in the long run, he said. “

“It’s a
no-brainer for a company to verify education,” Rosen said. “The
problem is that many organizations don’t bother to do a background check for
higher-level folks. They don’t do that for positions that start with a C.”

more information, see a recent article in Workforce called, “Who are you really hiring,” quoting ESR President
Les Rosen. See>>>

3. Marty Nemko on
Pre-employment Screening (featuring ESR)

Columnist, author and career coach Mary Nemko,
author of “Cool Careers for Dummies” and host of a popular career
radio show on San Francisco Public Radio, just released a column on
Pre-Employment Screening in the San Francisco Chronicle. It is a humorous
look at safe hiring that makes some very serious points. The
article is reprinted below, and can also be viewed at:

 4. ESR to Speak at
Upcoming Conferences/Meetings

ESR speaks all
over the US on Safe Hiring issues. For a full schedule, see

Future Speaking Dates are:

19, 2003
Bay Area. NCHRA Three hour workshop on
“Crime, Criminals and Human Resources-The
Role of Criminal Records and Background Screening in the Hiring
(Monarch Hotel, Dublin, CA)

March 4, 2003 -Los Angeles, CA. Three hour workshop sponsored by
PIHRA–“Crime, Criminals and Human Resources-The Role of Criminal
Records and Background Screening in the Hiring Process.”
Learning Center, Los Angeles, CA (see for more

March 11, 2003–Washington DC. SHRM 20th Annual Employment Law and
Legislative Conference
–“The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and
Employers–Developments and Trends Affecting Pre-Employment Screening and
Employee Investigation.”

March 18, 2003–Sacramento, CA- How to Avoid Hiring Problem Employees-10
Easy Steps Employers can take today (and cost nothing).”
by the State Compensation Insurance Fund for California employers. (Additional
details to be announced)

March 25, 2003--Santa Clara, CA “Background
Checks and Safe Hiring.”
Sponsored by the Santa Clara County EAC
(details to be announced)

April 23-24, 2003–Las Vegas, Nevada: SHRM 34th Annual Employment
Management Association (EMA) Conference and Exposition
: “Crime,
Criminals and Hiring-the Role of Criminal Records in the Hiring

April 27-28–Pre-employment Screeners Conference:
Spring 2003 West Coast Educational Session: “Only in California: The
Strange Saga of AB 655 and the Unique Rules for Screening in the Golden
Long Beach, CA; Westin Hotel. See

Please feel free to
contact ESR Customer Service at 415-898-0044, or Les Rosen,
President of ESR, if you have any questions or comments about
the matters in this newsletter. Les can be reached at 415-898-0044, ext.
246, or by e-mail at Please note that ESR’s statements about any legal matters are not given or intended as legal

Screening Resources (ESR)

1620 Grant Avenue, Suite 7

Novato, CA 94945


The top rated pre-employment
screening firm in the first independent national ranking of the pre-employment
screening industry. See: Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Rated Top Background Screening Firm
in First Independent Industry Study

Marty Nemko Column

Under the RADAR

By Marty Nemko

Screening: What job seekers and employers should know

From the February 9, 2003 SF Chronicle

If Les Rosen had his way, here’s how most employers would

Chester the Molester is looking through the Chronicle’s
employment ads. He finds an ad that
sounds good-assistant manager of Pooh’s Corner children bookstore.. Then,
however, on the bottom of the ad, he reads, “We conduct background
checks.” He thinks, “Whoops, better
look elsewhere.”

But Chester figures, “Ah what the heck: they probably don’t
really do the background checks.” So he applies, sending that resume and cover
letter he so cleverly concocted. For example, “2000-2002: state-sponsored
education program.” Translation: Two years in San Quentin. “I mean, I did learn
a lot there!,” he rationalizes. His cover
letter and resume make Chester sound like a cross between T. Berry Brazelton
and Maria from The Sound of Music.

The ruse works and Chester gets a call from Happy Chappy:
they want him to come in for an interview! In his Mr. Rogers get-up, Chester
saunters in, but he’s in for a surprise. The receptionist says, “Before your
interview, would you complete this application form, and sign at the bottom
authorizing the background screening?” He replies, “Sure, no problem,” but he’s thinking, “Uh-oh.”

Chester pads into the interview, handing the application to
the interviewer, Sally Savvy. Most of
the questions are those standard simulations Chester is so slick at BS’ing,
such as, “What would you do if a child throws a tantrum But then Sally asks,
“Before offering you the position, we would do a background check. Any
objection to that?” Chester’s heart starts to race, but he forces himself look
calm. “Not at all,” he lies.

Sally continues: “As part of that check, we look to see if
you have a criminal record. I notice on the application form, you didn’t answer
the question, ‘In the past seven years, have you been convicted of a crime?'”
Chester responds, “Oh, I forgot. I’ll answer it now.” He writes, “No.” His
heart pounds through his chest wall.

Sally is relentless: “Oh, and of course, we contact your
previous employers. Is there anything negative they’re likely to say about
you?” Beads of sweat form above his upper lip, like Richard Nixon in the 1960
presidential debate. “Well, uh, no.” Chester manages to keep his voice sounding
calm but he can’t control his eyes and forehead. The perceptive Sally knows
he’s nervous.

“Oh, and one more question: Because this job will
require you to handle customers’ money, we will be conducting a credit check.
Do you have any objections?” This is the last straw-Chester’s debts greatly
exceed the job’s salary. Now he can’t
even control his voice. “Be my guest,” he squeaks.

The interview ends and Chester thinks, “I don’t want this
stupid job anyway.” Sally thinks, “There’s something wrong with this guy.” Even
if she had planned to offer him the position, she would have first done a
background check using a firm such as Rosen’s Employment Screening Resources,
Inc., ( That would likely have revealed Chester’s criminal
record and that his previous employer fired him for inappropriately touching

Rosen believes that both employees and employers gain from
pre-employment background screening. Working for an employer that does that
helps ensure, for example, that your co-worker doesn’t commit the latest in his
string of assaults and batteries on you-there is a surprising amount of
violence in the workplace. It also
helps ensure that your co-workers have the credentials they claim. From the
employer’s standpoint, background-checking the first-choice candidate costs an
average of $100 and can save the employer an enormous headache. How frequently
does such a screening uncover a serious problem? According to Rosen, 9-11% of
the time

What if you did get convicted of landscaping your backyard
with rows of marijuana plants? Is your career permanently doomed? Here are some

Check with a lawyer to see if the conviction can be
expunged. If so, you needn’t report it.

Your probation officer may know of government programs that
pay employers to hire ex-offenders.

Ask everyone that likes you if they know someone who might
be willing to hire you-Yes, mention your felony conviction, but stress your
strengths and how much you learned from your indiscretion. (Do not ask them if
they’d like to score some weed.) Someone who knows you personally is more
likely than a stranger to give you a chance.

If all else fails, start at the bottom. A few months of
good work in an entry-level position will yield a good reference, which can start
your career back upward.

Dr. Marty Nemko is co-author of Cool Careers for Dummies and an Oakland
career and small business counselor in private practice. His radio show is
Sundays 11 am to noon on KALW, 91.7 FM. 200+ of his writings are at

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