All posts by Les Rosen

Tip of the month: Carefully Review the Application

Employee lawsuits often catch employers by surprise. Yet, an examination of the employee’s application shows that an employer could often have predicted, well in advance, that they were hiring a lawsuit just waiting to happen.

By looking for the following ten (10) danger signals, an employer can avoid hiring a problem in the first place.

  1. Applicant does not sign application. An applicant with something to hide may purposely not sign the application form so they later cannot be accused of falsification.
  2. Applicant does not sign consent for background screening. When a firm uses an outside agency to perform screening, federal law requires a separate disclosure and consent. A background consent form protects employers in two ways: It discourages applicants with something to hide and encourages candid interviews. If a firm does not perform some sort of screening, they become the employer of choice for problem applicants. If a candidate fails to sign the consent, that is not a good sign.
  3. Applicant leaves criminal questions blank. An applicant with a past problem may simply skip the questions about criminal record. Every employment application should ask, in the broadest possible terms allowed by law, if the applicant has a criminal record. Most jurisdictions only permit questions about convictions and pending cases. Employers make a big mistake if they only ask about felonies since misdemeanors can be extremely serious. Although employment may not be denied automatically because of a criminal conviction, an employer may consider the nature and gravity of the offense, the nature of the job and the age of the offense in evaluating whether there is a sound business reason not to employ someone with a criminal record. If an applicant lies about a criminal record however, the false application may be the reason to deny employment.
  4. Applicant self-reports a criminal violation. Just because an applicant self-reports an offense does not eliminate the possibility of other offences, or that it was reported it in a misleading way to lessen its seriousness. An employer is well advised to check it out.
  5. Applicant fails to explain gaps in employment history. It is critical to look for unexplained employment gaps. There can be many reasons for a gap in employment. However, if an applicant cannot account for the past seven to ten years, that can be a red flag. It is also important to know where a person has been because of the way criminal records are maintained in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a national criminal database available to most employers. Searches must be conducted at each relevant courthouse, and there are over 10,000 courthouses in America. However, if an employer knows where an applicant has been, it increases the accuracy of a criminal search, and decreases the possibility that an applicant has served time for a serious offense.
  6. Applicant fails to give sufficient information to identify a past employer for reference checks. If an applicant does not give enough details about past employers, that can be a sign of trouble. Verifying past employment is a critical and important tool for safe hiring. Some employers make a costly mistake by not checking past employment because past employers may not give detailed information. However, even if a reference check only reveals dates of employment and job titles, this critical information eliminates employment gaps. In addition, documenting the fact that an effort was made will demonstrate due diligence.
  7. Applicant fails to explain reason left past jobs. Past job performance can be an important predictor of future success.
  8. Explanations for employment gaps or reasons for leaving past jobs do not make sense. A careful review of this section is needed and anything that does not make sense must to be cleared up in the interview.
  9. Excessive cross-outs and changes. These can be an indication that an applicant is making it up as they go.
  10. Applicant failed to indicate or cannot recall the name of a former supervisor. Another red flag. Past supervisors are important in order to conduct past employment checks.

These danger signs assume employers use an application form. Some employers put their firm at risk by just using resumes. However, using an employment application is considered a best practice. Resumes are not always complete or clear. Applications ensure uniformity and that all needed information is obtained. It also protects employers from having impermissible information a resume may contain, and provides employers with a place for applicants to sign necessary statements that are part of the hiring process.

Anonymous E-mail Reference Checks—Another Way to Get Sued

Employers have been presented with yet another “new” and supposedly revolutionary hiring tool—reference checking done by e-mail. The idea is that each reference is promised that their evaluations will remain confidential and anonymous because the results are aggregated. Job candidates are the ones that select the references that get the e-mails. Instead of making phone calls, the references can just fill out an e-mail questionnaire. The questionnaire is itself a scientifically designed assessment instrument that gives an assessment of the applicant.

On the surface, it can sound appealing as a reference can quickly respond to an email—no more time wasted on playing phone tag and the e-mail evaluations provides a scientific assessment for what is under the candidate’s hood. And finally, the employer gets a candid assessment because the person giving the reference believes the actual scores to be confidential.

There are areas of concern for employers:

First, if a background firm is the conduit for such a service, it falls under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). One of the fundamental tenants of background checks is that there are no secrets. If a candidate receives a bad score, the candidate arguably has a legal right to find out exactly what each individual reference said about them. The problem of course is that the reference giver is led to believe that whatever they say will remain confidential. Under certain circumstances, that simply may not be true.

Another issue is that an employer cannot conduct due diligence by letting job seekers dictate which past employers to check. It is difficult to exercise due diligence when the applicant gets to pick and choose who is contacted for a reference. There is also the possibility of a fake or set-up reference, or an applicant creating a fake identity and evaluating themselves.

Background firms on the other hand do not take the applicant’s word for whether the past employer even existed. A background firm will typically independently verify that the past employer existed as well as verify that the phone number is real. The whole idea behind due diligence as a legal defense is independent verification. Even if past references are contacted for evaluation purposes, the task of verifying the truthfulness and accuracy of the employment history still requires a screening firm to independently obtain information from past employers.

Another issue is defamation. Just because an applicant signs a consent, that does not give permission for a reference to defame them with false or malicious information without liability.

The bottom-line: Although these e-mail assessment tools may well be an excellent tool for giving in-depth scientifically formulated assessment about a candidate during the decision-making stage, their proper use should be carefully considered. An employer should evaluate whether or not they provide protection if the employer is sued for negligent hiring and what other measures should be utilized. Nor can a reference really rest assured that they can give anonymous evaluations without the candidate ever finding out how they specifically rated the candidate.

This is yet another area where litigation may eventually decide what course employers should take and what rights applicants have.

The “Social Trace” – What It Is and What It Isn’t

One of the most common questions among HR professionals is: What really is the Social Security Trace?

Good question. We’re glad you asked because it is important to know what the “Social Trace” does and what it doesn’t do.

It DOES find addresses and aliases. It DOES NOT verify your applicant’s identity with the Government, even though it uses the government issued Social Security Number for part of the search. We will cover how to use the I-9 verification process to “match up” the Social Security Number with your applicant’s name in the next newsletter.

The “Social Trace” takes the information found in the credit headers of the three major credit bureaus and “bounces it off” 400 separate PRIVATE data bases. Here’s the information that can be returned:

  • Previous names, AKAs, alias names, misspelled names, and changed identity.
  • Whether the Social Security Number is a valid number, when it was issued and what state it was issued in. This is based upon how the Social Security Administration classifies its numbering system, and not based on applicant’s data.
  • Whether the person with that number has been reported as deceased.
  • Additional addresses where the applicant has lived or might be living now.
  • Other names that could be associated with a particular Social Security Number.
  • Extraneous “junk data” that can be ignored.

This information can provide the HR Professional with additional addresses to search for possible past criminal activity and other names that may have been used in committing a crime.

Expanding searches to undisclosed counties – where all but federal court information is stored – and to undisclosed identities can help provide a more complete Background Screening Report.

At ESR, we provide the Social Security Number Trace along with examination of the “Social Trace” by our in-house experts to help determine whether any of the names on the trace are associated with your applicant.

ESR Speaks

ESR’s own Jared Callahan, a licensed Private Investigator in California, presents Employment Screening Background Checks – A to Z

More than just the basics, this full-day seminar will cover everything you need to know about background checks. From determining where to search for possible criminal records to how to get information from past employers, you will walk away with all the tools and knowledge necessary to effectively manage the employment screening process in your organization.

Learn the details about crucial aspects of employment screening, such as;

  • Criminal Records
  • Social Security Trace – What it is and what it isn’t
  • Credit Reports
  • Driving Records
  • Employment Verification versus Employment References
  • International Background Checks
  • Legal Compliance

Presenter: ESR’s Jared Callahan is a licensed private investigator in the state of California and works with ESR’s clients to conduct background checks and teaches them about legal compliance efforts across the 50 U.S. states. He began his career in employment screening in 1996 with a private investigative firm. He has also worked as an investigator in the special investigations unit of a large workers’ compensation insurance company. Jared has been quoted in numerous publications, including The Washington Post and MSN Money. Additionally, he has given many speeches on the topic of background screening to the National Human Resources Association, Employment Advisory Council and the Hospital Association of Southern California, to name a few. Mr. Callahan currently sits on the Editorial Review Board of the California Employer Advisor.

As this event is sponsored by ESR, an HRCI approved provider, each attendee will receive continuing education credit. This course provides 5.5 hours of continuing education credit.

DATE and Time

Tuesday, April 22 – Emeryville – Woodfin Hotel

Time: Check-in and refreshments: 8:00 to 9:00 am

Program: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, with lunch served between 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm

Materials, including a three ring binder packed with valuable information, will be provided at the program

Cost: $349 Includes all day seminar, morning coffee and refreshments, lunch, printed binder of material and 5.5 hours of HRCI credits! No charge for ESR clients.

For questions, call Jared Callahan at ESR 888-999-4474 or email at jcallahan@esrcheck.com

To sign up please go to http://www.esrcheck.com/background_seminars.php

ESR 2008 Speaking Schedule

March 26, 2008 Los Angeles, CA “Pre-employment Screening: Best Practices and Legal Compliance” HR STAR Conference

April 3, 2008 San Francisco, CA “Pre-Employment Screening and Background Checks” San Francisco Employer Advisory Council (EAC)

May 15, 2007 Las Vegas, NV Using the Internet and Social Networking Sites to Find and Screen Applicants” Kennedy Information’s Recruiting 2008 Conference and Expo, Las Vegas Hilton

June 5, 2008 Cooperstown, NY “Cutting Edge Issues and Best Practices in Background Checks and Employment Screening for Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations” Symposium sponsored by the Health Association of New York State (HANYS)

June 12, 2008 Santa Cruz, CA “Pre-employment Screening: Best Practices and Legal Compliance,” Santa Cruz EAC (Aptos Golf Course)

June 23/25, 2008 Chicago, Il “Negligent Hiring Mock Trial” and “Caution! Using the Internet and Social Networking Sites to Screen Applicants”. SHRM 60th Annual National Conference and Exposition.

July 14, 2007 Boston, MA “Preventing Employee Fraud at the Point of Entry: Legal and Effective Pre-employment Screening” National Conference for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)

July 16, 2008 San Francisco, CA Pre-employment Screening: Best Practices and Legal Compliance” HR STAR Conference

July 18, 2008 Stockton, CA “Pre-Employment Screening and Background Checks” Stockton Employer Advisory Council (EAC), Stockton, CA

August 13/14 Online Recruiting Conference -“Using the Internet and Social Networking Sites to Screen Candidates” By NACE (details to follow)

August 28/29 2008 New Delhi, India “International Background Screening: Best Practices in the US and in India and the Pacific Rim. The Second Annual International Pre-employment Screening Conference, The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, India

Contact ESR for further details. The ESR 2008 Speaking schedule will be available shortly.

ESR is pleased to announce new services that are available to U.S. employers:

  1. In-depth Searches and Litigation Support ESR has introduced a new service, an “Integrity Check,” for businesses that need in-depth research on partners, key executives, prospective members of a Board of Directors, and other highly sensitive positions, It is also ideal for law firms for litigation preparation. See: http://www.esrcheck.com/IntegrityCheck.php
  2. Vendor Checks ESR has introduced a new program to allow businesses to check their vendors. Businesses who would never allow an employee onsite without due diligence, can now ensure that the same due diligence is applied to vendors, independent contracts or temporary employees. For more information, contact Jared Callahan at jcallahan@ESRcheck.com or at 415-898-0044, ext. 240.

ESR announces that the Safe Hiring Certification Training is now available in four separate mini-courses, in addition to the intensive 30 Hour course. The smaller course allows participants to focus in on just those areas of immediate interest and need. This is the first and only online educational and professional development course designed for employers, human resources and security professionals, and anyone responsible for risk management and due diligence in hiring.

The Safe Hiring Certification Training is a self-paced, on-line course that can be accessed at any time from anywhere, including at work.

Features of this course include:

  • Convenient 24/7/365 availability through any online connection
  • 21 self-paced lessons on Safe Hiring practices
  • A printable, 190-page workbook to facilitate note-taking and preparation for review quizzes
  • Review quizzes after each lesson featuring more than 300 questions about safe hiring
  • Easy access to useful Safe Hiring web-links
  • Sample safe hiring forms to help guide your own form development
  • Industry certification in Safe Hiring
  • Additional audio pointers by author Les Rosen (requires speakers but not a requirement for course completion)

Through this course, participants will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to implement and manage a legal and effective safe hiring program, including employment screening background checks. Upon successful completion, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion, marking a significant professional accomplishment. The $395 course is offered at no charge to ESR clients.

The course is available at http://esr.coursehost.com

More information is available at: http://www.esrcheck.com/ESRonlineSafeHiringCourse.php

  • ESR wrote the book on background checks! – The Safe Hiring Manual, now in its third printing, is available from BRB Publications. Click here to read more. The definitive book on pre-employment screening, “The Safe Hiring Manual-The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters out of Your Workplace,” has undergone its third printing since its introduction a year ago. The new printing also contains updates and new material.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Rated Top Background Screening Firm in First Independent Industry Study. See the Press Release


Please feel free to contact Jared Callahan at ESR at 415-898-0044 or jcallahan@esrcheck.com 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)

www.ESRcheck.com

7110 Redwood Blvd., Suite C

Novato, CA 94945

415-898-0044

Adverse Action: How To Do It and What It Is

Some employers have remarked that they are confused by the Adverse Action Process that is required under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The federal law kicks in when you use a Consumer Reporting Agency to perform a background check (known as a consumer report) and decide not to hire the applicant based on something in the report.

The adverse action process itself is simple. It involves sending TWO separate letters to the applicant, along with the consumer report and a summary of their rights, so that the applicant has time to review the report for errors. The timing of the two letters would be such that the applicant has meaningful opportunity to review, reflect and react to the report in order to dispute any perceived inaccuracies in the report.

It is the responsibility of the Consumer Reporting Agency to reinvestigate any inaccurate information in the report.

The Adverse Action Process

The first letter — Pre-Adverse Action Letter — is sent to the applicant saying that his or her application is being considered and asking the applicant to review the report so that a hiring decision can be made. A copy of the report is sent with the Pre-Adverse Action letter. The letter also includes a statement of rights that has been prepared by the Federal Trade Commission. Then the applicant is given a period of time to review the report and to dispute any perceived inaccuracies with the background firm.

If the applicant has not disputed the contents of the report within a reasonable time, and the employer wants to make the hiring decision final, then the Adverse Action Letter itself is sent. That letter states that the applicant is no longer being considered for employment. A good practice is to send another copy of the Background Screening Report with the Adverse Action Letter, as well as the statement of rights, so there can never be a question of the applicant having received his or her report.

Although the FCRA law does not give a definite time interval between the first letter and the second, the intent of the law is to give the applicant sufficient time to review the report. Allowing a period as long as ten (10) business days between the first letter and the second letter should provide sufficient time to receive and react to the first letter before the second letter is sent.

Even though the Adverse Action Process has been initiated, the employer is under no requirement to hold the job open for the applicant. The employer can proceed with considering and hiring another candidate.

If the applicant disputes the contents of the report, and the dispute is successful, then the employer is always free to consider the applicant again for any open position. That would be a business decision. In other words, using the Adverse Action is not an impediment to the normal hiring process. Although it is an employer’s duty to send these letters, many employers delegate that task to their employment screening background firm.

For more information please see the article: ‘The FCRA in Four Easy Steps’ by ESR President Lester Rosen at http://www.esrcheck.com/articles/article9.php.

ESR has a quick and very responsive dispute resolution process if the applicant disputes a report. ESR feels strongly that both the employer and the applicant deserve an accurate report.

Use of Workers’ Compensation Records: Extreme Caution Advised

Employers have become very aware of the high costs of compensation claims. The loss to American business from both fraudulent claims and re-injury causes many employers to want to know whether a job applicant has a history of filing workers’ compensation claims.

At the same time, the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as numerous state laws, seek to protect job seekers from discrimination in hiring as a result of filing valid claims. The ADA also seeks to prevent the discrimination against workers who, although suffering from a disability, are nevertheless able to perform essential job functions as long as there are reasonable accommodations.

The bottom line is that an employer cannot request workers’ compensation records in order to have a policy of not hiring anyone who has made a claim. It is discriminatory to penalize a person who has exercised a lawful right in a lawful way and filed a valid claim.

Employers are well-advised to contact a labor lawyer before seeking to obtain workers’ compensation records. A labor law expert can assist an employer in preparing company policies, job descriptions, and forms and procedures necessary to comply with the ADA, such as a conditional job offer and medical review form.

The following brief summary describes the major points involved in obtaining and using workers’ compensation records.

  1. There are wide variations between the states in the availability of these records. In a few states, the records are not available to the public, period. In other states, it can take two to three weeks to obtain a record. In some states, there are special requirements before obtaining the records, such as a notarized release. Because they are familiar with state regulations, background screening firms can assist employers in obtaining these records.
  2. Under the ADA, an employer may not inquire about an applicant’s medical condition or past workers’ compensation claims until a conditional job offer has been extended. A conditional job offer means that a person had been made an offer of employment, subject to certain conditions such as a job-related medical review.
  3. Any questioning in a job interview should be restricted to whether the person can perform the essential job functions with, or without, reasonable accommodation. That is another good reason to have well-written job descriptions so it is clear in an interview exactly what the job entails.
  4. If a candidate discloses a disability, then there should not be any follow-up. Questioning should be limited to whether that applicant can perform the job.
  5. If a history of filing workers’ compensation claims is found, then the offer may only be rescinded under very limited circumstances, such as:
    1. The applicant has lied about a workers’ compensation history or medical condition, usually during a medical examination;
    2. The applicant has a history of filing false claims;
    3. The past claims demonstrate the applicant is a safety or health threat to himself or others in the opinion of a medical expert;
    4. The past claims demonstrate the applicant is unable to perform the essential functions of the job even with a reasonable accommodation.
  6. If the applicant has lied on a medical questionnaire, or to a doctor performing a pre-employment physical, then the employer may be justified in rescinding the job offer based upon dishonesty. If an applicant has a history of multiple claims that have been denied, then an employer may be justified in rescinding the offer based upon a history of dishonest conduct. The reason is based upon an inference of fraud, not disability. Some firms contend that a workers’ compensation record may also be used to determine the truthfulness of information on a job application on the theory that an applicant may try to hide a past employer where a claim was filed. However, even with this justification, if used, the best practice may be to review the records post-hire only.

What does all this mean? Before attempting to utilize a search for workers’ compensation claims as part of a screening program, an employer is well-advised to consult with their attorney.

U.S. Conference of Mayors Holds National Summit on Issue of Re-Entry of Ex-offenders into the Workforce

The U.S. Conference of Mayors announced a conference held in February on the issue of mass incarceration and the need to get ex-offenders employed. Featuring mayors form major American cities, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the announced purpose of the conference was to help former inmates find jobs after their release and to avoid going back to jail.

According the press release:

With 1 in 31 American adults in prison, jail, on parole or probation, the US prison system is in crisis. Hundreds of prisons nationwide are overcrowded to the breaking point, and high recidivism rates are largely to blame: 39 percent of prisoners have served three or more sentences. This cycling in and out of prisons is taking a devastating economic toll on already-vulnerable urban communities. At this critical moment, policymakers and experts are determined to come together and develop concrete solutions to making sure that people who leave prison do not reoffend and go back.

This conference underscores an emerging issue of how society deals with individuals with criminal records. On one hand, if an employer hires someone for a job with an unsuitable criminal record, and some harm occurs, the employer may face the prospects of a negligent hiring lawsuit.

On the other hand, without a job, an ex-offender is likely to end up back in custody, and unless we as a society would rather build more prisons than schools and hospitals, some way is needed for ex-offenders to get back to work. In addition, there is an increased likeliness going forward of discrimination lawsuits where ex-offenders were denied employment without a business justification.

Background screening firms are often caught in the middle of this debate. Although a screening firm does not make the hiring decision, screening firms are hired by employers to research potential criminal records. A background screening firm should clearly advise employers that there are limitations on the use of criminal records. There are various state laws that limit what an employer can consider. In addition, the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission has made it clear that a criminal record should only be used where there is a business justification. There are also special rules governing arrests that did not result in a conviction.

For more information on the use of criminal records, contact Jared Callahan at ESR by e-mail at jcallahan@esrcheck.com for more information.

In addition, ESR has prepared a special report for the benefit of ex-offenders on how to get back into the workforce called, Criminal Records and Getting Back into the Workforce: Six Critical Steps for Ex-offenders Trying to Get Back into the Workforce It has been reprinted online and is available at: http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/rosencrim.htm

ESR in the News! ESR quoted in SHRM Magazine

ESR has recently been quoted ESR in the February, 2007 issue of HR Magazine published by SHRM in an article entitled, “Ground Rules on Background Checks.”

ESR president Lester S Rosen is quoted on the formation for the trade association for the screening industry, The National Association of Professional Background Screeners, or NAPBS.

According to the article:

Indeed, 85 percent of HR professionals surveyed reported that their organizations conduct–or hire outside agencies to conduct–background investigations on potential employees, according to separate 2006 and 2004 polls addressing background-checking practices among members of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). That’s up from 51 percent who said they did so in 1996. “A perfect storm of events grew the industry, and it grew largely without regulation, standardization, organization or coordination,” says Lester Rosen, an attorney and founder of Employment Screening Resources Inc., a pre-employment background-screening company in Novato, Calif. He chaired the steering committee that founded NAPBS. “It truly was the ‘Wild West’ in a lot of ways,” he says.

Taming that territory was a tall order, admits Rosen, author of The Safe Hiring Manual: The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters Out of Your Workplace (Facts on Demand Press, 2007).

The online version provides a link to an ESR site with a suggested RFP (Request for Proposal) form. See: http://www.esrcheck.com/backgroundscreeningrfp.php

ESR 2008 Schedule

February 28, 2007 Silicon Valley, CA Using the Internet and Social Networking Sites to Find and Screen Applicants” Santa Clara County Employer Advisory Group, Biltmore hotel, Santa Clara, CA

March 6, 2008 Kennedy Information National Audio Conference–“Background Checks and Recruiting — Avoiding Negligent Hiring.” Details to follow

March 26, 2008 Los Angeles, CA “Pre-employment Screening: Best Practices and Legal Compliance” HR STAR Conference

April 3, 2008 San Francisco, CA “Pre-Employment Screening and Background Checks” San Francisco Employer Advisory Council (EAC)

May 15, 2007 Las Vegas, NV Using the Internet and Social Networking Sites to Find and Screen Applicants” Kennedy Information’s Recruiting 2008 Conference and Expo, Las Vegas Hilton

June 5, 2008 Cooperstown, NY “Cutting Edge Issues and Best Practices in Background Checks and Employment Screening for Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations” Symposium sponsored by the Health Association of New York State (HANYS)

June 12, 2008 Santa Cruz, CA “Pre-employment Screening: Best Practices and Legal Compliance,” Santa Cruz EAC (Aptos Golf Course)

June 23/25, 2008 Chicago, Il “Negligent Hiring Mock Trial” and “Caution! Using the Internet and Social Networking Sites to Screen Applicants”. SHRM 60th Annual National Conference and Exposition.

July 14, 2007 Boston, MA “Preventing Employee Fraud at the Point of Entry: Legal and Effective Pre-employment Screening” National Conference for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)

July 16, 2008 San Francisco, CA Pre-employment Screening: Best Practices and Legal Compliance” HR STAR Conference

July 18, 2008 Stockton, CA “Pre-Employment Screening and Background Checks” Stockton Employer Advisory Council (EAC), Stockton, CA

August 28/29 2008 New Delhi, India “International Background Screening: Best Practices in the US and in India and the Pacific Rim. The Second Annual International Pre-employment Screening Conference, The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, India

Contact ESR for further details. The ESR 2008 Speaking schedule will be available shortly.

ESR is pleased to announce new services that are available to U.S. employers:

  1. In-depth Searches and Litigation Support ESR has introduced a new service, an “Integrity Check,” for businesses that need in-depth research on partners, key executives, prospective members of a Board of Directors, and other highly sensitive positions, It is also ideal for law firms for litigation preparation. See: http://www.esrcheck.com/IntegrityCheck.php
  2. Vendor Checks ESR has introduced a new program to allow businesses to check their vendors. Businesses who would never allow an employee onsite without due diligence, can now ensure that the same due diligence is applied to vendors, independent contracts or temporary employees. For more information, contact Jared Callahan at jcallahan@ESRcheck.com or at 415-898-0044, ext. 240.

ESR announces that the Safe Hiring Certification Training is now available in four separate mini-courses, in addition to the intensive 30 Hour course. The smaller course allows participants to focus in on just those areas of immediate interest and need. This is the first and only online educational and professional development course designed for employers, human resources and security professionals, and anyone responsible for risk management and due diligence in hiring.

The Safe Hiring Certification Training is a self-paced, on-line course that can be accessed at any time from anywhere, including at work.

Features of this course include:

  • Convenient 24/7/365 availability through any online connection
  • 21 self-paced lessons on Safe Hiring practices
  • A printable, 190-page workbook to facilitate note-taking and preparation for review quizzes
  • Review quizzes after each lesson featuring more than 300 questions about safe hiring
  • Easy access to useful Safe Hiring web-links
  • Sample safe hiring forms to help guide your own form development
  • Industry certification in Safe Hiring
  • Additional audio pointers by author Les Rosen (requires speakers but not a requirement for course completion)

Through this course, participants will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to implement and manage a legal and effective safe hiring program, including employment screening background checks. Upon successful completion, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion, marking a significant professional accomplishment. The $395 course is offered at no charge to ESR clients.

The course is available at http://esr.coursehost.com

More information is available at: http://www.esrcheck.com/ESRonlineSafeHiringCourse.php

  • ESR wrote the book on background checks! – The Safe Hiring Manual, now in its third printing, is available from BRB Publications. Click here to read more. The definitive book on pre-employment screening, “The Safe Hiring Manual-The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters out of Your Workplace,” has undergone its third printing since its introduction a year ago. The new printing also contains updates and new material.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Rated Top Background Screening Firm in First Independent Industry Study. See the Press Release


Please feel free to contact Jared Callahan at ESR at 415-898-0044 or jcallahan@esrcheck.com 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)

www.ESRcheck.com

7110 Redwood Blvd., Suite C

Novato, CA 94945

415-898-0044

Ambiguous References—the Fine Art of Polite Negative References

Who says there is no humor in the hiring process? Employers will enjoy reading the book, “Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations (LIAR),” by Robert Thornton and available on Amazon. The book gives a whole new meaning to the term “damned with faint praise.” It answers the age old question of how to give a truthful recommendation without getting sued.

Here are just a few examples from this very clever book:

“Her ability is deceiving” (She lies, cheats and steals)

“No salary would be too much for him.” (He is not worth anything)

“It was a pleasure working with her the short time I did.” (Thankfully it was not longer)

“I am pleased to say that this candidate is a former colleague of mine” (I can’t tell you how happy I am that she left our firm)

“He’s a man of many convictions.” (He’s got a record a mile long).

“She gives every appearance of being a reliable, conscientious employee” (But appearances can be deceiving)

Any employers or HR or Security Professionals that want to share their own favorite way of giving ambiguous references, please send them to Jared Callahan at ESR by e-mail at jcallahan@esrcheck.com

Screening Vendors and Temporary Employees

A recent article in the SHRM 2008 Staffing Management Library underscores the need to screen even temporary hires. Although many employers have well thought out programs for their regular employees, temporary employees form staffing firms, 1099 workers or vendors pose similar risks. The article explained why screening temporary employees is critical, and offers suggestions on how a firm can protect itself.

The article also quotes ESR President Lester S. Rosen:

“Even if you have a person on a short-term assignment, you’re exposed,” added attorney Lester S. Rosen, president and CEO of the Novato, Calif.-based firm Employment Screening Resources. “They have the keys to the kingdom. Once they’re inside your building, they have access to your files and have the potential to do great harm.” ….

Rosen said that while staffing vendors “have traditionally not engaged in a great deal of screening because it slows down the placement time and adds to the cost,” they need to understand that they have “a huge risk” if they send unscreened employees to a workplace.

“They have to realize that every placement they make is potentially a game of Russian Roulette that can put them out of business,” he explained. “If you’re a staffing vendor, it only takes one bad hire to lose your reputation, lose a client and [potentially to] get sued.”

And even though an extended worker may be getting a paycheck from the staffing vendor, under “co-employment” law, employers may still be at risk of a negligent hiring suit if something goes wrong.

“If [temporary employees] cause a hostile workplace, hurt a member of the public or attack a co-worker, arguably employers are just as liable as they would be if this were a full-time, regular employee,” Rosen said.

The fact that the staffing vendor said it did background checks may not be much of a defense for an employer if the check was inadequate or ineffective. For this reason, it pays to do adequate due diligence to head off any potential lawsuits down the road.

After all, Rosen said, “Even the CIA will, every so often, hire a spy or a crook.”

The article discusses the need to evaluate the risks involved in utilizing an extended workforce and to develop an appropriate screening program. The screening may be performed by the same firm that checks new applicants. If done by the staffing vendor’s firm, then the employer can require that the same protocols be used that it uses internally.

For a full copy of the article, see http://www.shrm.org/ema/library_published/nonIC/CMS_024438.asp#TopOfPage

Contact Jared Callahan at ESR by phone at 415-898-0044 or e-mail at jcallahan@esrcheck.com for more information.