All posts by Les Rosen

ASIS Selects ESR President as a Presenter at the 2009 ASIS International 55th Annual Seminar

ESR is pleased to announce that its president, Lester Rosen, has been selected to give a presentation at the 2009 ASIS International 55th Annual Seminar and Exhibits (September 21-24, 2009) on Monday, September 21, 2009 at 1:30 PM. It will be held in Anaheim, CA. The presentation will be, “Negligent Hiring Mock Trial.”

The ASIS is the largest and most respected gathering of security professionals in the world, and ESR is pleased to be part of this prestigious event.

Lester S. Rosen is an attorney and president of Employment Screening Resources. He is a writer and frequent presenter nationwide on safe hiring, legal compliance and pre-employment screening. He has testified in court as an expert in safe hiring and is past co-chair of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). He authored “The Safe Hiring Manual-the Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists and Impostors out of Your Workplace,” and the “Safe Hiring Audit.”

New Form I-9 for Employers

NOTICE (4/3/09) The USCIS has issued the latest and newest Form I-9 that employers should begin to use immediately. See the official USCIS version at: and for more information from USCIS, see>>>:

ESR is pleased to offer a range of E-verify and Form I-9 services.  Also keep in mind that certain states now require the use of E-verify, and three is the ongoing discussion about the requirements for federal contactors.

Stay Tuned for new training and education website offering books, courses, training video and free resources on employment screening background checks

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is pleased to announce that a preview of its new education and training site is now available on the web. See:

The site contains courses, books, training videos and free resources on employment screening and background checks. The official launch will the in April but it is available now for viewing and many of the items on the site are now available.

The newest addition tot he site is the Mock Trial Video, a professional training video produced by ESR. See:

It will go on sale on April 2, 2009

Press Release

PRLog (Press Release) – Mar 24, 2009 – Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a leading U.S. background screening firm has announced that it has entered the ninth year of publishing the industry leading ESR Newsletter and Legal Update, the monthly newsletter that summarizes new trends, legal developments and best practices for employers.

The newsletter is available at no charge to employers, hiring managers, human resources and security professionals at  

“The purpose of the newsletter is to ensure that anyone responsible for due diligence in hiring can keep up with all of the complicated legal developments in the area of employment screening background checks,” stated Lester Rosen, an attorney and founder of Employment Screening Resources. ”It also helps keeps employers up to date on key trends and development, all in a manner that is easy to read and utilize.”

The Newsletter is written entirely by the ESR staff, and is part of the firm’s mission to provide real background checks as an employer’s professional  safe hiring partner, and not merely a “data vendor.”  The firm’s website is

ESRcheck Report Newsletter


The ESRcheck Report is a free monthly newsletter from Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) that provides timely and vital information about background checks for employers, recruiters, HR professionals, and security providers.

  • Stay current on ever-changing legal compliance issues at state and federal level pertaining to employment screening.
  • Get information from a background check firm that fully understands the complexities of employment screening.
  • Find out about upcoming seminars and speaking engagements that benefit a Safe Hiring program.
  • Discover the best practices for employment screening background checks.

Sign up for the free ESRcheck Report newsletter at

To access archived stories from the most recent ESRcheck Report newsletters, visit


How to Tell if Someone is Lying at an Interview (Hint: It helps to have a coin handy)

Even if Diogenes had found an honest person, there is a body of modern evidence that suggests it is difficult for anyone, from ancient philosophers to modern day employers, to use an interview to determine who is really who. Employers have a distinct challenge when it comes to spotting liars; industry statistics suggest that as many as 30% of all job applicants falsify information about their credentials, but trying to spot liars at interviews is, well, difficult, if not impossible.

There are lists of so-called “tell-tale signs” that a person is lying XE “lying:tell-tale signs” . For example, employers might observe if a person is avoiding eye contact, fidgeting, or hesitating before answering. Unfortunately, it can be a costly mista ke for an interviewer to think lying can always be detected by such visual clues by relying upon one’s own instinct or intuition, since some of the so-called “visual clues” can simply be a sign of nervousness about the interview, or stress, and not an intent to lie. In fact, accomplished liars are more dangerous because they can disguise themselves as truthful and sincere. An experienced liar will often show no visible signs.

The problem is further complicated because many people feel they can detect who is lying and who is not. Studies have demonstrated that most people are poor judges of when they are being told the truth and when they are being deceived. Paul Ekman XE “Ekman, Paul” , a psychology professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco XE “Department of Psychiatry at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco” , is the author of thirteen books, including Telling Lies. XE “Telling Lies  Ekman has tested about 6,000 people who are professionals trained to spot liars, including police officers, lawyers, judges, psychiatrists, and agents of the FBI, the CIA and the Drug Enforcement Administration, to determine if they can tell if someone is lying. According to his research, most people are not very accurate in judging if a person is lying. The average accuracy in studies is rarely above 60%, while chance is 50%. Even among professional lie catchers, the ability to detect liars is not much better than 50%. In one study, customs agents who interviewed people at customs stations did not do any better than college students.

Some interviewees tell lies they have ingrained in their life story. They have created identities and legends of their own and, when they tell their stories, they are not fabricating on the spot. They put “it” on their resumes and talk about it and tell their friends about it. It becomes part of their personalities and personal histories because they have told it so often. It becomes second nature as they retell it again and again.

Conversely, even if a hiring manager does have an inkling a person is lying at an interview, a hiring manager may squash that instinct as just a feeling and not act on it.

That does not mean that some liars cannot be detected at interview.20Some firms offer a one-day course specifically designed around interviewing of applicants. However, for most people, it’s a flip of the coin.

Employers, HR and Security professionals should remember that as valuable as instinct may be, it does not substitute for factual verification of an applicant’s credentials through background checks and other safe hiring techniques.

For more information, see: The Safe Hiring Manual, by ESR President, Lester S. Rosen at:

Megan’s Law and Registered Sexual Offenders – An “Only in California” Twist

The use of the California Sexual Registration listing, commo nly known as Megan’s Law, is widespread among employers.  However, there is a little known provision in California that may actually limit an employer’s legal use of that information in some situations.

The Megan’s Law was first passed in 1996.  Originally, information on sex offenders that register under California Penal Code Section 290 was only available by personally visiting police stations and sheriff’s offices, or by calling a 900 number. The website at was established by the California Department of Justice pursuant to a 2004 California law for the purpose of allowing ”the public for the first time to use their personal computers to view information on sex offenders required to register with local law enforcement under California’s Megan’s Law. “

The purpose of Megan’s law is summarized on the web site: 

Cali fornia’s Megan’s Law provides the public with certain information on the whereabouts of sex offenders so that members of our local communities may protect themselves and their children. Megan’s Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge. In the wake of the tragedy, the Kankas sought to have local communities warned.

The California site allows anyone to search the database by a sex offender’s specific name, obtain ZIP Code and city/county listings, obtain detailed personal profile information on each registrant, and use a map application to search their neighborhood or anywhere throughout the State to determine the specific location of any of those registrants on whom the law allows us to display a home address.

Megan’s law contains a provision which prohibits the information to be used when it comes to insurance, loans, credit, employment, education, housing or accommodation or benefits or privileges provided by any business.  California Penal Code Section 290.4(d) (2).  

However, there is an exception.  According to California law, “A person is authorized to use information disclosed pursuant to this section only to protect a person at risk.” California Penal Code Section 290.4(d) (1).

The problem for employers that want to use this information:  There is no legal definition for the term “person at risk.”  Neither the California Penal code, the legislative history of the section or the Megan’s law website defines a “person at risk.”

Until a court provides a definition, employers are well advised to apply a common-sense approach by looking at risk factors associated with the nature of the job. For example, there is a widespread industry agreement that vulnerable individuals are at risk, such as the young, the aged, the infirmed, or the physically or mentally disabled. In addition, people inside their own home are likely to be at greater risk, since it is harder to obtain help, so home workers may be considered a population that works with people at risk.  Another category is workers that operate under some sort of badge or color of authority or who wears a uniform.  In that situation, a person may let their guard down.  Until a court makes a clear decision, employers should make an effort to determine if there is a good faith belief that it is reasonably foreseeable that a member of a group at risk could be negatively impacted if a sexual offender was hired.  

Of course, if the underlying criminal record is discovered and otherwise meets the many complicated rules governing the reporting and use of criminal records in California, then the “group at risk” analysis is not needed, and the employer handles it like any other criminal record. 

There are two other challenges for California employers using the Megan’s law website:

First, it is possible that a person may be registered as a sex offender, but their crime is beyond the 7 year California reporting provisions that restrict what a Consumer Reporting Agency can report.  Although not yet tested in the Courts, the industry standard is for a screening firm to report the listing, on the basis that the background firm is reporting on the offender’s current status as a registered sexual offender.

The other issue is that there are large numbers of sex offenders that either do not register or abscond from the jurisdiction(s), or do not re-register.  The Safe Hiring Manual, by ESR President, Lester S. Rosen, reported on studies suggesting a significant number of sex offenders did not have current registration and authorities have lost track of their whereabouts.

The bottom line: Where an employer is hiring an applicant for a position where it is foreseeable that there would be contact with members of groups at risk, then the sexual offender database search can be valuable.  However, employers should keep in mind that there are limitations that have yet to be fully defined by courts or the legislature.

Cup of Coffee with that Criminal Conviction? Starbucks Case Underscores Importance of Well-Crafted Employment Application

A recent California appellate court case, Starbucks Corporation v. Lord, addressed the issue of how applicants are asked about criminal records on an application form. A class action was filed against Starbucks Corporation on behalf of 135,000 unsuccessful job applicants on the basis that the Starbucks application contains an ‘illegal question’ about prior marijuana convictions that are more than two years old.  The lawsuit was claiming $200 per applicant, which meant Starbucks was facing a potential exposure of $26 million dollars. Continue reading

Employment Screening Resources Announces that Lester Rosen to Address Third Annual India International Background Screening Conference in Mumbai

(PRLEAP.COM) Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a leading U.S. background check screening firm has announced that its president, Lester S. Rosen, will be a featured speaker at the Third Annual India International Background Screening Conference in Mumbai at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower on March 26 and 27, 2009.

Mr. Rosen, a recognized expert on background checks and pre-employment screening, has addressed conferences worldwide on the topic, and has testified as an expert witness on safe hiring and due diligence in American courts. He has authored two leading books on employment screening background checks, “The Safe Hiring Manual: The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists, and Imposters Out of Your Workplace,” and “The Safe Hiring Audit — The Employer’s Guide to Implementing a Safe Hiring Program.” Rosen chaired the steering committee that founded the U.S. National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and served as the organization’s first co-chair.

“I am delighted to be part of this prestigious worldwide event on a topic that has become so critical in this day and age,” commented Mr. Rosen. “I am especially pleased that the organizers choose to hold this event in Mumbai so that the Conference can demonstrate its commitment to one of the world’s great cities.”

The Conference, which will also feature experts on background screening from India, is sponsored by the Background Investigator, the leading international publication for the screening industry. The Conference is also expected draw the leaders in the India pre-employment screening industry. For more information, see:

More information is available from Employment Screening Resources at More information about Mr. Rosen’s publications can be found at

The Six Biggest Applicant Lies

By Lester S. Rosen

Although statistics vary widely, there is widespread agreement that a substantial number of resumes belong in the “fiction” section of the bookstore. The rate of fraud can be as high as 40% and higher according to different sources. Applicants certainly have the right to put their best foot forward, and puffing their qualifications is an American tradition. But when puffing crosses the line into fabrication, an employer needs to be concerned. When you hire an applicant who uses lies and fabrication to get hired, the issue is that the same type of dishonesty will continue once they have the job.

What are the six most common fabrications from job applicants?

Claiming a degree not earned: Yes, believe it or not, applicants will make up a degree. Sometimes, they actually went to the school but never graduated. Some applicants may have had just a few credits to go, and decided to award themselves the degree anyway. On some occasions, an applicant will claim a degree from a school they did not even attend. The best practice for an employer is to state clearly on the application form that the applicant should list any school they want the employer to consider. In that way, if an applicant lies, the employer can act on the lack of truthfulness regardless of whether the educational requirement is part of the job requirements.

Diploma Mills or Fake Degree: A related issue is diploma mills or fake degrees that can be purchased online. For those that actually attended classes, read books, wrote papers and took tests to earn a diploma, you apparently did it the old fashioned way. Now, getting a “degree” is as easy as going online and using your credit card. There are websites that will print out very convincing, fake degrees from nearly any school in America. In fact, the author obtained a degree for his dog in Business Administration from the University of Arizona—and the dog had been dead for ten years. A transcript was even obtained and the dog got a “B” in English! Some sites will even provide a phone number so an employer can call and verify the fake degree. Some of the degree mills even have fake accreditation agencies with names similar to real accreditation bodies, in order to give a fake accreditation for a fake school.

Job Title: Another area of faking is the job description or job title. Applicants can easily give their career an artificial boost by “promoting” themselves to a supervisor position, even if they never managed anyone.

Dates of Employment: Another concern for employers is applicants that cover up dates of employment in order to hide “employment gaps.” For some applicants, it may be a seemingly innocent attempt to hide the fact that it has taken awhile to get a new job. In other cases, the date fabrication can be more sinister, such as a person that spent time in custody for a crime who may be trying to hide that fact.

Compensation: A related issue is pay – applicants have been known to exaggerate compensation in order to have a better negotiating position in the new job.

Lack of Criminal Record: Nearly every application will have a question about past criminal conduct. Although employers may not “automatically” eliminate a job applicant without a showing of a “business necessity,” if the person lies, then the employer would have grounds to deny employment based upon dishonesty.

The common denominator in all of these: they can be all be discovered by a program of pre-employment screening. To quote a phrase popular in the 1980s. “Trust, but verify.”

BIO: Lester S. Rosen is an attorney at law and President of Employment Screening Resources (, a national background screening company located in California. He is the author of, “The Safe Hiring Manual–Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Imposters and Terrorists Out of Your Workplace.” (512 pages-Facts on Demand Press), the first comprehensive book on employment screening. He also authored, “The Safe Hiring Audit,” (286 pages/Facts on Demand Press).

He is a consultant, writer and frequent presenter nationwide on pre-employment screening and safe hiring issues. He has qualified and testified as an expert witness on issues surrounding safe hiring and due diligence. His speaking appearances have included numerous national and statewide conferences.

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 over 300 members. He was also elected to the first board of directors and served as the first co-chairman in 2004.