All posts by Les Rosen

Background Checks of Coaches, Officials, and Volunteers at Youth Groups Help Protect Children

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Editor

A recent news story on Star-Telegram.com, the website of the Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram newspaper, shows the importance of background checks for people who work closely with youths and other “at-risk” groups.  While coaches and officials with youth sports groups are entrusted to watch over children and serve as role models, the Star-Telegram discovered with background checks that some officials and coaches in certain youth sports associations and leagues in the area had criminal pasts and were being allowed to work with young people.

  • The president of a Youth Association resigned after the Star-Telegram reported that the man operated several strip clubs and that, although never convicted of a crime, he was associated violations including prostitution and incidents with minors.
  • One coach led his Girls soccer team to a silver medal in a tournament only two months after being arrested by police on a warrant alleging aggravated sexual assault of a child.
  • Another Girls soccer coach was arrested by police on three charges of fraudulent possession of a controlled substance and also faces a charge of possession of child pornography related to material police found in his car during his arrest.
  • Another man coached a Pee Wee football team even though he was once sentenced to four years in prison after his probation was revoked because he failed drug tests.

The executive director of the National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) told the Star-Telegram that youth sports organizations are taking great risks if they don’t ensure that background checks are up to date and those who work with children have a huge responsibility to make certain that everyone involved is “tiptop.” Though many youth clubs stated they conducted criminal background checks on coaches and volunteers, experts say some background checks may not be thorough enough to identify potential concerns in some instances. While background checks are useful, running only local or statewide checks may not be adequate, experts say, and even a coach’s or official’s clean record should not give parents a false sense of security.

To help protect children from predators, the National Council of Youth Sports co-founded a national screening service – the National Center for Safety Initiatives – after discovering that some companies being used by youth sports organizations were sometimes providing incomplete or outdated information on applicants. The council created guidelines to be used as minimum standards when deciding who can coach or volunteer with children. The group recommends that youth associations reject those applicants with:

  • Convictions for any felony or any lesser crime involving something of a sexual nature, including pornography;
  • Force or threat of force against a person;
  • Animal cruelty; or
  • Controlled substances.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) agrees with the NCYS and suggests thorough background checks for all people who work with youths and other “at-risk” groups to ensure the safety of everyone. Every coach, every assistant coach, every manager – anybody that comes in contact with children – should go through a criminal background check.

For more information from ESR on background checks for volunteer, youth, and faith-based organizations, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/services/Background-Screening-Solutions-Churches-Volunteer-Groups.php.

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations and Business Development, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.

New CA Law Regulates Offshoring Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of Consumers Used in Background Checks

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Editor

A recently signed California law appears to be the first in the United States to regulate the “offshoring” of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of U.S. consumers used during background checks – such as names, dates of birth, addresses, Social Security numbers (SSNs), and financial data – overseas and outside the U.S. and its territories.

In September 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law California Senate Bill 909 (SB 909), which addresses the issue of personal information being sent offshore. SB 909 – which takes effect January 1, 2012 to allow time for background check companies to provide new releases to employers or modify online language – amends the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRA) that regulates background checks in California and requires that a consumer must be notified as part of a disclosure before the background check of the web address for “information about the investigative reporting agency’s privacy practices, including whether the consumer’s personal information will be sent outside the United States or its territories.”

If a background check company does not have a web site, then the background check company must provide the consumer with a phone number where the consumer can obtain the same information. In addition, the background check company’s privacy policy must contain “information describing its privacy practices with respect to its preparation and processing of investigative consumer reports.” Specifically, background check companies in California (and firms that do business in California) must have a statement in their privacy policy entitled “Personal Information Disclosure: United States or Overseas” that indicates whether the personal information will be transferred to third parties outside the United States or its territories through the process of offshoring.

SB-909 defines “third parties” as including, “but not being limited to, a contractor, foreign affiliate, wholly owned entity, or an employee of the investigative consumer reporting agency” and also requires a “separate section that includes the name, mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number of the investigative consumer reporting agency representatives who can assist a consumer with additional information regarding the investigative consumer reporting agency’s privacy practices or policies in the event of a compromise of his or her information.” In the event a consumer is harmed by virtue of a background check company negligently sending data offshore, SB-909  provides for damages to the consumer.

As reported earlier on ESR News, the practice of offshoring – whether personal information or jobs – can have a negative impact on network security since, for all intents and purposes, once personal information is sent offshore outside the U.S. it is beyond the reach and protection of U.S. laws in cases involving identity theft or privacy issues. Also, offshoring of Information Technology (IT) jobs can lead to increases in data breaches.

According to a 2009 security survey of 350 network administrators and IT executives executed by Amplitude Research and commissioned by VanDyke Software, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of respondents felt outsourcing technical jobs offshore had a negative impact on network security while only 9 percent felt it had a positive impact. In addition, the security survey found:

  • 25 percent of respondents in the survey belonged to companies that outsourced IT jobs to other countries.
  • Of these outsourcing firms, about half said their security had been negatively impacted and 61 percent said their company had experienced a data breach.
  • In contrast, only 35 percent of companies not outsourcing reported a data breach.

The security survey naturally raises questions as to the safety of sending Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of American job applicants offshore in order to prepare background checks. A group of more than 120 Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) called ConcernedCRAs opposes the practice of offshoring Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of U.S. citizens outside the country to be processed beyond U.S. privacy laws.

A member of ConcernedCRAs, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) does not offshore Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and all domestic background checks are performed exclusively in the United States. ESR does all processing and preparation in the U.S. in order to protect applicants and employers, the only exception being when performing an international verification using information residing outside the U.S.

To read more about offshoring on ESR News, visit articles tagged ‘offshoring’ at: http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/offshoring/.

To read California Senate Bill 909, visit: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0901-0950/sb_909_bill_20100929_chaptered.pdf.

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is recognized by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) as Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) Accredited for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations and Business Development, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Provides Six Critical Steps for Job Applicants with Criminal Pasts Re-Entering Job Market

By Lester Rosen, ESR President & Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Editor

Just how much information an employer should be able to learn about the criminal past of a job applicant has become an increasingly controversial subject in the current economic downturn, when finding work is tough enough even for a job seeker with a spotless criminal record.

For jobseekers with criminal pasts, a job search can be a frustrating case of “Catch-22” because most employment applications will ask in some fashion if they have a criminal record. If these applicants lie, then they are at risk of being terminated if their criminal record being discovered. If these people are honest and admit their past misconduct, there is a risk of not getting the job.

In addition, most job applicants will likely undergo a pre-employment criminal background check, since many employers believe job applicants with criminal pasts may have a propensity to re-offend in the future. According to recent surveys from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), nearly three out of four U.S. businesses – 73 percent – conduct criminal background checks on all job candidates as part of their pre-employment screening programs.

As a result, an increasing number of U.S. cities and states have joined the “ban the box” movement and removed or limited questions asking about criminal records on job applications. Most recently, due to Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) reform legislation that took effect November 4, 2010, employers in Massachusetts are now prohibited from asking questions on initial written job applications about criminal charges, arrests, and incarceration.

While employers have a legal duty to exercise “due diligence” in the hiring process, and that duty can be violated if employers hire workers that they either knew – or should have known in the exercise of reasonable care – were dangerous or unfit for a job, society has a vested interest in giving people with past criminal records a fair opportunity to rejoin the workforce and obtain and maintain employment to help these ex-offenders become law abiding, tax-paying citizens.

Since job applicants with criminal records face greater challenges in finding employment – and since there are certain jobs where employers will justifiably not hire ex-offenders – Employment Screening Resources (ESR) founder and President Lester Rosen, an expert on safe hiring and background checks, wrote the article ‘Criminal Records and Getting Back into the Workforce: Six Critical Steps for Ex-offenders Trying to Get Back into the Workforce’ to help applicants with criminal pasts get and keep work to develop a successful job history that outweighs past problems:

  • Step One: People with past criminal records looking for employment must understand their rights. There are instances where job applicants can legally and ethically answer “No” on a question about a past criminal offense.
  • Step Two: Ex-offenders should see an attorney to explore if they are eligible to get their conviction sealed, expunged, or legally minimized.
  • Step Three: Ex-offenders should seek professional assistance. There are also organizations that assist past offenders with job search and training programs, some with relationships with employers willing to give ex-offenders a chance.
  • Step Four: Honesty is the best policy for ex-offenders. In applying for a job, honestly is always the best policy. A criminal matter honestly explained during an interview may have much less negative impact than hiding it and having an employer discover it later.
  • Step Five: Ex-offenders should rebuild their résumé one step at a time, even with “not-so-perfect” jobs since employers know that the best indicator of future job performance is past job performance.
  • Step Six: Ex-offenders should take the long-term view. An ex-offender anxious to get back into the workforce to start making a living may also be anxious to have their old life back. Yet, ex-offenders need to take the long view and have the faith and patience that the criminal matter will eventually be put behind them.

As an employment screening firm, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) recognizes that most adults need a job – but not everyone is entitled to every job – and we help employers make good decisions while considering the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules regarding job applicants with criminal histories.

To read the article ‘Criminal Records and Getting Back into the Workforce: Six Critical Steps for Ex-offenders Trying to Get Back into the Workforce’ from Employment Screening Resources, visit: http://www.esrcheck.com/articles/Criminal-Records-and-Getting-Back-into-the-Workforce.php. For a Spanish version of the article, visit: http://www.esrcheck.com/articles/Criminal-Records-and-Getting-Back-into-the-Workforce-SPANISH.php.

For more general information for job applicants, visit the Employment Screening Resources Applicant Resources page at http://www.esrcheck.com/Applicant-Resources.php.

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is recognized by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) as Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) Accredited for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations and Business Development, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.

Challenges of Drug Testing Employees for Prescription Drugs Revealed in NY Times Article

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Editor

The story of a woman who lost her job after working more than two decades at an automotive plant because of a failed drug test in which she tested positive for a legally prescribed drug is revealed in a recent  New York Times article, ‘Drug Testing Poses Quandary for Employers.’

The woman’s employer for 22 years had changed its drug testing policy to test for selected prescription drugs in addition to illegal drugs, according to the Times, and the prescription medication she took for back pain — a narcotic prescribed by her doctor called hydrocodone, a drug her employer considered unsafe — showed up on her drug test.

The Times reports that the woman has sued her former employer for discrimination and invasion of privacy, while the automotive company contends employees on certain medications pose a safety hazard and its employment drug testing policy considered a prescription drug unsafe if its label included a warning against driving or operating machinery. The case is currently in court.

Increasingly, employers are struggling to find ways to address “the growing reliance of Americans on powerful prescription drugs for pain, anxiety, and other maladies” that may indicate that many of these employees report to work “with potent drugs in their systems,” reports the Times.

But issues of ‘security’ and ‘privacy’ seem to be pitted against each other, as employers try to maintain safe work environments through employment drug testing but employees cite privacy concerns and contend that they should not be fired for taking legal medications, especially if for injuries sustained on the job.

Citing data from the results of more than 500,000 drug tests, the Times reports:

  • The rate of employees testing positive for prescription opiates rose by more than 40 percent from 2005 to 2009, and by 18 percent in 2009 alone.
  • Workers tested for drugs after accidents were four times more likely to have opiates in their systems than those tested before being hired.

Because of the wide use of prescription drugs in today’s society, employers now face the challenge of setting proper employment drug testing rules about prescription drug use in the workplace to find the right balance between ‘worker security’ and ‘worker privacy’ in order to avoid violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to lawyers with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the ADA prohibits employers from asking employees about prescription drug use unless those employees compromise safety or cannot perform their job for medical reasons, the Times reports.

“Like background screening, effective drug testing should occur at the intersection of security and privacy,” says Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and President of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a San Francisco area company that provides background checks and drug testing, and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual – The Complete Guide To Keeping Criminals, Terrorists, and Imposters Out of Your Workplace.’ “Employers need to balance a safe and secure working environment that protects workers and the general public with the legitimate concerns employees have about privacy issues.”

For more information about effective employment drug testing, visit the from Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Services page at
http://www.esrcheck.com/services/.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. ESR is recognized by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) as Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) Accredited for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about ESR, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com.

 Source:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/us/25drugs.html?_r=1

Federal Court Rules Unnecessary Repetition of Single Criminal Incident can be Misleading and be the Basis of an Allegation for Punitive Damages Against Background Screening Firm

A case decided by a federal district court demonstrates the need for background screening firms to exercise reasonable procedures for maximum possible accuracy in order to avoid lawsuits for punitive damages. 

In that case, the plaintiff alleged among other things that his background report unnecessarily repeated information about a single criminal incident multiple times, so that the criminal record appeared much more serous then it was.  The case was brought on behalf of not only the plaintiff, but on also on behalf of “the thousands of employment applicants throughout the country who have purportedly been the subject of prejudicial, misleading and inaccurate background reports  performed by Defendant  and sold to employers.”

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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Issues Final Regulations for Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) Prohibiting Use of Genetic Information in Employment Decisions

By Lester Rosen, ESR President & Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Blog

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued final regulations implementing the Title II employment provisions of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) that prohibits use of genetic information to make decisions about health insurance and employment, and restricts the acquisition and disclosure of such genetic information, according to a press release from EEOC.

Title II of GINA – which took effect on November 21, 2009 – prohibits genetic information discrimination in employment and represents the first legislative expansion of the EEOC’s jurisdiction since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Congress enacted GINA due to concerns patients would decline to take genetic tests out of fear they could lose their jobs or health insurance if tests revealed adverse information.

Title II of GINA:

  • Prohibits the use of genetic information in employment.
  • Restricts employers from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information.
  • Strictly limits the disclosure of genetic information.

The Act also imposes confidentiality obligations on employers and other covered entities – such as employment agencies, labor unions, and training programs – that possess genetic information. The definition of “Genetic Information” includes information about:

  • An individual’s genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual’s family members.
  • Information about the manifestation of a disease or disorder in an individual’s family members (i.e. family medical history) that is often used to determine whether someone has an increased risk of getting a disease, disorder, or condition in the future.
  • An individual’s request for, or receipt of, genetic services, or the participation in clinical research that includes genetic services by the individual or a family member of the individual.
  • The genetic information of a fetus carried by and individual or by a pregnant woman who is a family member of the individual and the genetic information of any embryo legally held by the individual or family member using an assisted reproductive technology.

The GINA regulations include clarifications and refinements made in response to comments received during the notice and comment period. The final regulations implementing GINA are an effort to ensure that workers, job applicants and employers will have clear guidance concerning the implementation of this new law.

The final regulations also provide:

  • Examples of genetic tests;
  • More fully explain GINA’s prohibition against requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information;
  • Provide model language employers can use when requesting medical information from employees to avoid acquiring genetic information; and
  • Describe how GINA applies to genetic information obtained via electronic media, including websites and social network sites.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also issued question-and-answer documents on the final GINA regulations and ‘Genetic Information Discrimination’ that are available on EEOC’s website at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/genetic.cfm.

The EEOC has also issued a question-and-answer pamphlet for small businesses about Title II of GINA and implemented regulations, ‘Questions and Answers for Small Businesses: EEOC Final Rule on Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008,’ which is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/gina_qanda_smallbus.cfm.
 
The EEOC pamphlet for Small Business Owners (SBOs) includes the following questions SBOs may ask:

  • Who must comply with Title II of GINA?
  • Are small businesses covered by Title II of GINA required to comply with the law now?
  • What is “genetic information”?
  • What are examples of tests that would, and would not, be considered genetic tests?
  • Does GINA protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of impairments that have a genetic basis, such as certain forms of breast cancer?
  • Are there any situations in which an employer may use genetic information to make employment decisions?
  • Does Title II of GINA prohibit harassment and retaliation?
  • May an employer use genetic information about an applicant or employee to make decisions concerning health benefits?
  • May an employer ask for family medical history as part of a medical examination of a job applicant or employee?
  • Are there any situations in which a small business may obtain genetic information without violating GINA?
  • When is the acquisition of genetic information considered inadvertent?
  • What does GINA say about the acquisition of genetic information when an employer offers health or genetic services, like a wellness program?
  • Why do GINA and the final rule include an exception that allows an employer to acquire family medical history as part of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) certification process, under certain state or local laws that allow employees to take leave to care for a family member, or under certain employer leave policies?
  • When would the exception permitting acquisition of genetic information from sources that are publicly and commercially available apply?
  • May an employer conduct genetic monitoring to see if employees are being affected by harmful substances in the workplace?
  • What does GINA say about whether an employer may acquire genetic information for law enforcement purposes or for human remains identification?
  • What should an employer do to comply with GINA when lawfully requesting health-related information from an employee?
  • Must the warning be provided every time an employer requests health-related information from an employee?
  • What if an employer does not provide a warning like the one the EEOC suggests when it requests health-related information and receives genetic information in response?
  • What are GINA’s rules on confidentiality?
  • What effect does Title II of GINA have on other laws addressing genetic discrimination in employment?
  • What happens when an employee files a charge under GINA?
  • What are the remedies for a violation of GINA Title II?

For more information on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008, visit: http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2010/11/09/2010-28011/regulations-under-the-genetic-information-nondiscrimination-act-of-2008.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a background check company that does not use genetic information in background check reports – encourages all employers to read the EEOC pamphlets for a helpful overview of GINA and how it impacts businesses generally, and to also check the ESR News Blog for any updates for this subject and other legal matters. 

For more employment screening information for employers, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Sources:
http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-9-10.cfm / http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/genetic.cfm / http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2010/11/09/2010-28011/regulations-under-the-genetic-information-nondiscrimination-act-of-2008 / http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/gina_qanda_smallbus.cfm

Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Announce Anti-Fraud Enhancements to E-Verify Employment Verification Program

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Blog

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas have announced the expansion of the E-Verify employment eligibility verification program’s capabilities to include U.S. passport photo matching which will enable E-Verify to automatically check the validity and authenticity of all U.S. passports and passport cards presented for employment verification checks, according to a DHS press release.

Businesses using E-Verify – a free, web-based system that enables employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their employees – will now able to verify the identity of new employees who present a U.S passport or passport card for the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 by comparing data with State Department records. Approximately 10 percent of all E-Verify queries currently provide a U.S. passport to establish both identity and employment authorization in order to prove employment eligibility.

“E-Verify is a smart, simple and effective tool that helps employers and businesses throughout the nation maintain a legal workforce,” DHS Secretary Napolitano stated in the press release. “Including U.S. passport photo matching in E-Verify will enhance our ability to detect counterfeit documents and combat fraud.”

E-Verify – operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration – is currently being used by more than 230,000 employers at more than 800,000 worksites.

Now more than ever, U.S. employers must regularly review their Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 compliance practices. Since January 2009, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the principal investigative arm of DHS – performed Form I-9 audits on more than 3,200 employers suspected of hiring illegal labor and imposed approximately $50 million in financial sanctions, according to DHS statistics.

These statistics show the Government has focused less on rounding up illegal workers and more on targeting the employers that hire illegal workers. To help maintain Form I-9 compliance and avoid I-9 audits, employers may choose to have a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent assist them in maintaining compliance using E-Verify. Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent – can help employers virtually eliminate I-9 form errors, improve the accuracy of their reporting, protect jobs for authorized workers, and help maintain a legal workforce.

For more information about the E-Verify Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification system, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/formi9.php and read ESR News Blog posts tagged ‘E-verify’ at http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/e-verify/.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. ESR is recognized as Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) Accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Source:
http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1289422305190.shtm

New Security Survey Finds Nearly One-Third of Healthcare Organizations Had At Least One Known Case of Medical Identity Theft

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Blog

A new survey released in November on security at healthcare organizations has revealed that nearly one-third of respondents said their healthcare organization had at least one known case of medical identity theft, and that some cases the medical identity theft may never be reported.

According to the 3rd Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Security Survey, sponsored by Intel, while approximately two-thirds of respondents reported that their healthcare organization had policies and procedures in place addressing security breaches, almost one-third of respondents (31 percent) reported that their healthcare organization had at least one known case of medical identity theft.

Overall, the HIMSS Survey – which interviewed 272 Information Technology (IT) and security professionals at hospitals and medical practices – found that medical practices lagged behind hospitals in nearly every measure of healthcare IT implementation and security. For example:

  • Only 17 percent of respondents working for a medical practice were likely to report a security breach such as medical identity theft at their healthcare organization compared to 38 percent of respondents working for a hospital organization.
  • One-third of medical practices reported they did not conduct a risk analysis.

For the survey, ‘medical identity theft’ was identified as “the use of an individual’s identity-specific information such as name, date of birth, social security number, insurance information, etc. without the individuals’ knowledge or consent to obtain medical services or goods. It may also extend to cases where an individual’s beneficiary information is used to submit false claims in such a manner that an individual’s medical record or insurance standing is corrupted, potentially impacting patient care.”

The 3rd Annual HIMSS Security Survey, sponsored by Intel and supported by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), reports the opinions of IT and security professionals from U.S. healthcare provider organizations on issues surrounding the tools and policies in place to secure electronic patient data at healthcare organizations from security breaches such as medical identity theft.

For more information about identity theft, read the Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Blog stories tagged ‘identity theft’ at http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/identity-theft/.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. ESR is recognized as Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) Accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Source:
http://www.himss.org/content/files/2010_HIMSS_SecuritySurvey.pdf

Saginaw County MI Ready to Ban the Box Questioning Job Applicants about Criminal Pasts on Job Applications

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Blog

Saginaw County, Michigan appears poised to join the growing “Ban the Box” movement by voting to remove questions – and the box to be checked when answering – regarding criminal pasts of job applicants on county government employment applications.

As reported in stories on mlive.com, the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners Labor Relations Subcommittee voted to remove questions concerning an applicant’s criminal background history from Saginaw County government job applications, though the panel also determined that the county would still be able to conduct criminal background checks on job applicants after an interview and before a final job offer is made.

The move to “ban the box” and strike questions about criminal charges from government job applications won’t take effect unless the Board of Commissioners votes to go along with the recommendation. If the Board of Commissioners follows the Labor Relation Subcommittee’s endorsement, the county would also eliminate a question asking if a job applicant faces pending felony charges.

As reported previously on the ESR News Blog, an increasing number of cities have decided to “ban the box” and remove questions on job applications asking about criminal records. More recently, employers in Massachusetts will no longer be able to ask about convictions on “initial” job applications because of new legislation that took effect November 4, 2010 prohibiting employers from asking questions on initial written job applications about criminal offender record information that includes criminal charges, arrests, and incarceration.

For more information, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. ESR is recognized as Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) Accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Sources:
http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2010/11/saginaw_county_panel_votes_to.html
http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2010/11/ban_the_box_advocate_disappoin.html
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2010/11/03/esr-news-alert-massachusetts-cori-reform-law-prohibits-employers-from-asking-about-criminal-convictions-on-initial-job-applications-effective-november-4-2010/
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2010/08/17/more-cities-ban-the-box-asking-about-criminal-records-on-job-applications/

Ohio Governor Issues Executive Order Prohibiting Use of Public Funds for Practice of Offshore Outsourcing Known as Offshoring

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Blog

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has issued an executive order that prohibits the expenditure of public funds for services provided offshore and beyond the boundaries of the United States and its territories – a practice known as Offshore Outsourcing or “Offshoring” – a move that is a reaction to public outcry after a El Salvadoran call center was used for Ohio’s appliance rebate program, according to a report on Cleveland.com.

A press release on the Office of the Governor website at Governor.Ohio.gov reveals that the state’s Department of Development awarded a $357,300 contract to a Texas-based service provider in March 2010 to assist with the agency’s implementation of the $11 million federal stimulus-funded appliance rebate program which rewarded consumers with federal stimulus dollars when they bought energy-efficient appliances.

Despite state procurement requirements designed to restrict service providers from using public funds for offshore labor – in particular, an Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) directive that requires agencies to ask potential vendors to list all locations where the services will be performed – the contract was awarded to a company that practiced “offshoring” and used offshore labor.

The company in Texas never told state officials in Ohio it would use a foreign call center, and the state did not require the information with bids. State officials learned about the call center from an Ohio resident who asked a call center employee where the operation was located, according to the press release.

“Ohio’s policy has been – and must continue to be – that public funds should not be spent on services provided offshore,” Strickland states in the Executive Order.  “Throughout my Administration, procurement procedures have been in place that restrict the purchase of offshore services.”

In June 2008, Strickland signed an executive order (E.O. 2008-12S) that implemented Think Ohio First practices promoting economic development by maximizing the use of Ohio businesses when agencies conduct purchases. 

The full text of the governor’s Executive Order 2010-09S “Banning the Expenditure of Public Funds for Offshore Services” appears in the press release:

  • 1. Ohio’s Economic Vitality Necessitates Constant Vigilance in State Job Creation Efforts.  State officials and employees must at all times remain passionately focused on initiatives that will create and retain jobs in the United States in general and in Ohio, in particular, and must do so especially during Ohio’s continuing efforts to recover from the recent global recession.
  • 2. No Public Funds Should be Spent on Services Provided Offshore.  Allowing public funds to pay for offshore services undermines economic development objectives and any such offshore services carry unacceptable quality and security risks. a. The Purchase of Offshore Services with Public Funds Undermines Economic Development and Other Job Creation and Retention Objectives.  The expenditure of public funds for services provided offshore deprives Ohioans and other Americans critical employment opportunities.  It also undermines efforts to attract businesses to Ohio and retain them in Ohio, initiatives in which the State has invested heavily. b. The Purchase of Offshore Services Has Unacceptable Business Consequences.   The use of offshore service providers could pose unacceptable data security, and thus privacy and identity theft risks.  There are pervasive service delivery problems with offshore providers, including dissatisfaction with the quality of their services and with the fact that services are being provided offshore.  It is difficult and expensive to detect illegal activity and contract violations and to pursue legal recourse for poor performance or data security violations.  The State’s use of offshore service providers ill-serves the people of Ohio who are the primary consumers of the services provided by the State.
  • 3. Ohio’s Policy Has Been – and Must Continue To Be – That Public Funds Should Not Be Spent on Services Provided Offshore. Throughout my Administration, procurement procedures have been in place that restrict the purchase of offshore services.  Despite these requirements, federal stimulus funds were recently used to purchase services from a domestic company which ultimately provided some of those services offshore.  This incident was unacceptable and has caused me, through this Order, to redouble my commitment to ensure that public funds are not expended for offshore services.
  • 4. Additional Steps Will Ensure that Public Funds Are Not Spent on Services Provided Offshore.  In order to ensure that the State of Ohio makes no expenditures for services provided offshore, I hereby order the following: a. No Cabinet Agency, Board or Commission (Executive Agency) shall enter into any contract which uses any funds within its control to purchase services which will be provided outside the United States.  This Order applies to all funds in the custody of an Executive Agency, be they from state, federal, philanthropic or private sources.  It applies to all purchases of service made directly by an Executive Agency and services provided by sub-contractors of those providing services purchased by an Executive Agency. b. This Executive Order will be personally provided, by the Director, Chair or other chief executive official of each Executive Agency, to the Chief Procurement Officer or other individual at that entity responsible for contracts for services. c. The Department of Administrative Services, through Ohio’s Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO), shall have in place, by August 31, 2010, procedures to ensure all of the following: i. All agency procurement officers, or the person with equivalent duties at each Executive Agency (APOs), have standard language in all Executive Agency contracts which: (a) Reflect this Order’s prohibition on the purchase of offshore services. (b) Require service providers or prospective service providers to: (i) Affirm that they understand and will abide by the requirements of this Order. (ii) Disclose the location(s) where all services will be performed by any contractor or subcontractor. (iii) Disclose the locations(s) where any state data associated with any of the services they are providing, or seek to provide, will be accessed, tested, maintained, backed-up or stored. (iv) Disclose any shift in the location of any services being provided by the contractor or any subcontractor. (v) Disclose the principal location of business for the contractor and all subcontractors who are supplying services to the state under the proposed contract. ii. All APOs are ensuring that all quotations, statements of work, and other such proposals for services affirm this Order’s prohibition on the purchase of offshore services and include all of this Order’s disclosure requirements. (a) Any such proposal for services lacking the affirmation and disclosure requirements of this Order will not be considered. (b) Any such proposal where the performance of services is proposed to be provided at a location outside the United States by the contractor or any sub-contractor, will not be considered. iii. All procurement manuals, directives, policies, and procedures reflect the requirements of this Order. iv. All APOs have adequate training which addresses the terms of this Order.
  • 5. Exceptions.  Nothing in this Order is intended to contradict any state or federal law.  In addition, this Order does not apply to: a. Services necessary to support the efforts of the Department of Development Global Markets Division to attract jobs and business to the State of Ohio, including incidental services for the support of trade missions, payment of international staff, and services necessary for the operation of international offices. b. Academic, instructional, educational, research or other services necessary to support the international missions of Ohio’s public colleges and universities.
  • 6. I signed this Executive Order on August 6, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio and it will not expire unless rescinded.                                    

            Ted Strickland, Governor

Banning the practice of offshoring where public funds are concerned – like the governor of Ohio issuing an executive order prohibiting use of public funds for outsourcing – may seem like a no brainer to many, but according to a blog on The Economic Populist the use of taxpayer dollars to offshore outsource jobs happens every day, from food stamp and unemployment support to large software design projects.

The Economic Populist blog also notes that as a result of the State awarding a stimulus contract to support the appliance rebate program to a contractor that practiced offshoring, workers in El Salvador were able to come into contact with the personal and sensitive financial data – also known as Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – of people from Ohio.

The controversial practice of “offshoring” has come to the attention of other states as well. As reported earlier on the ESR News Blog, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed into law California Senate Bill 909 (SB 909), which appears to be the first law in the nation that addresses the issue of personal information being sent offshore outside the United States or its territories.

SB 909 amends the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRA) that regulates background checks in California and requires that a consumer must be notified as part of a disclosure before the background check of the web address where a consumer “may find information about the investigative reporting agency’s privacy practices, including whether the consumer’s personal information will be sent outside the United States or its territories.”

While SB 909 does not prohibit offshoring when it comes to background checks, the law will require a disclosure in the privacy statement of the background check firm’s website, as well as a link to that privacy statement.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) does not offshore information contained in background check reports and is a member of Concerned CRAs, a group of Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) that oppose the practice of offshoring information of U.S. citizens outside the country.

For more information, visit the ESR News Blog articles tagged “offshoring” at http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/offshoring/.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. ESR is recognized as Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) Accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Sources:
http://governor.ohio.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=1753
http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2010/08/no_public_funds_for_outsourcin.html
http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/ohio-bans-use-public-funds-offshore-outsourcing
http://www.concernedcras.com/no_offshoring.htm
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2010/09/30/hot-off-the-press-new-california-law-on-background-checks-appears-to-be-first-law-in-u-s-to-regulate-offshoring-of-personal-data-overseas/