ESR Newsletter and Legal Update

This newsletter is sent to clients of Employment Screening Resources (ESR) and employers, HR and Security professionals and law firms who have requested information from ESR on pre-employment screening, safe hiring and legal compliance. If this was sent in error, you can be removed from this list by using the “remove” feature at the end of the newsletter.

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April 2003 Vol. 3, No. 4


Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Newsletter and Legal Update

1. California Budget Problems Impact Court Records for LA County

2. Reality Check-Are You Ready for the Coming Worker Shortage?

3. Bill To Amend FCRA Introduced in Congress

4. ESR Update

1. California Budget Problems Impact Court Records for LA County

The Los Angeles County Courts, in response to the California fiscal crisis, has announced that all 59 county courthouses will be shuttered for eight days before the end of June. The plan was prompted by a $6.7 million dollar mid-year budget reduction. The proposed closure dates for April are 4/17 and 4/23.

This will delay the ability for employers to obtain criminal records for applicants who have lived or worked in Los Angeles County. In the November, 2002 ESR Newsletter, it was reported that LA County has laid off a large number of court clerks, exasperating an already difficult task in obtaining timely records in Los Angeles County.

Although ESR continues to produce results from Los Angeles County generally in three days or less, these problems present a number of challenges. We will make every effort to make certain that our LA County results are timely, and will monitor the situation closely.

2. Reality Check-Are You Ready for the Coming Worker Shortage?

Although in the current economic environment there is relatively high unemployment and plenty of newspaper coverage about the difficulty in finding a job, experts tell us that the future will be very different. Once the recession is over, the real story will be the worker shortage, especially for jobs requiring higher education. The reasons are simple: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2010 there will be 10 million more jobs than there will be people to fill them. Jobs requiring higher education or jobs that fall into the management /professional area are increasing significantly faster than the amount of available qualified workers to fill those positions.

What does that mean for employers? Among other things, it means employers should again be thinking about retention programs. That becomes even more important as a recession ends and employees feel more confident about looking for new opportunities. It also means firms need to plan for growth and for talent needed in the future.

In addition, it also means that employers need to pay more attention to being careful about who they hire. In a tight labor market, many firms have suffered the legal and financial consequences of hiring too fast just to fill a position without taking the necessary time to conduct due diligence.

3. Bill To Amend FCRA Introduced in Congress

On April 1, 2003, Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) introduced H.R. 1543, the “Civil Rights and Employment Investigation Clarification Act” of 2003. H.R. 1543 makes a clarification to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to allow employers to use attorneys and licensed professionals to investigate current employees suspected of misconduct, wrongdoing or harassment, without obtaining the employee’s prior authorization.

In 1999, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued the Vail letter, which applied the FCRA notice and disclosure requirements to an investigation of sexual harassment by an independent outside investigator. According to Congressman Sessions, “If not amended, the FTC’s interpretation of the FCRA resulting from the Vail opinion could result in employers’ inability to comply with obligations under Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines and Supreme Court precedent. Worse, the FCRA as now interpreted could have the unintended consequence of discouraging employers from using outside investigative organizations to check out threats of violence as well as allegations of employee misconduct, including cases of harassment, discrimination, fraud and embezzlement.”

Nothing in the proposed legislation modifies the application of the FCRA to pre-employment screening. The proposed legislation only addresses the investigation of current employees.

ESR’s President, Lester Rosen, recently presented a workshop on the FCRA and the Vail letter in Washington D.C. at the SHRM 20th Annual Employment Law and Legislative Conference. For a detailed PowerPoint Presentation on the FCRA and the investigation of current employees, contact Jared Callahan at ESR at or by phone at 415-898-0044 ext. 240.

4. ESR Update

The ESR April/May Seminar information:

April 17, 2003–Rohnert Park, CA: “Hiring Winners!” Presented in conjunction with The Personnel Perspective. Doubletree Hotel -Breakfast meeting. For more information, contact Jared Callahan at ESR (415-898-0044 ext. 240)

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 Process.”

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 State.” Presentation by Lester S. Rosen to the pre-employment screening industry on how to comply with California law. Long Beach, CA; Westin Hotel. See

May 9, 2003–Oakland, CA.-Conference on “Uniting Privacy and the First Amendment in the 21st Century.” ESR President Les Rosen will participate in a panel discussion on the “Investigative Uses of Personal Information,” concerning the present legal and regulatory schemes for controlling the use of personnel information for investigative purposes. Sponsored by the California Office of Privacy protection, Electronic Privacy Information Center and the first Amendment Project. See

May 2003“Pre-employment Screening and Safe Hiring.ESR will participate in a series of five seminars sponsored by the California Association of Employers (CAE) on hiring and wage and hour laws, to be held throughout the state of California. Locations will include: May 13-Irvine Marriott; May 14-Sacramento Aces Holiday Inn; May 15-Emeryville Holiday Inn; May 22 –Fresno Ramada Inn University; May 29– Redding Shasta Builders Exchange. Contact the CAE for further details at 916-921-1312 or see

Please feel free to contact Jared Callahan at ESR at 415-898-0044 or if you have any questions or comments about the matters in this newsletter. Please note that ESR’s statements about any legal matters are not given or intended as legal advice.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR)



1620 Grant Avenue, Suite 7

Novato, CA 94945


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