Tag Archives: Employment Applications

California Assembly Bill 1831 would Prohibit Local Governments from Asking about Criminal History on Initial Job Applications

A new piece of California legislature – Assembly Bill No. 1831 (AB 1831) – would prohibit local governments in the state “from inquiring into or considering the criminal history of an applicant or including any inquiry about criminal history on any initial employment application.” AB 1831 would only authorize a local government to consider the criminal history of a job applicant “after the applicant’s qualifications have been screened and the agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment requirements as stated in any notice issued for the position.” California Assembly Bill 1831 is available at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_1801-1850/ab_1831_bill_20120222_introduced.pdf. Continue reading

Criminal Background Checks of Job Applicants by Employers Coming Under Greater Scrutiny by EEOC

With a recent survey showing nine out of ten employers conduct criminal background checks on some or all job candidates, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a public meeting in July 2011 examining the use of arrest and conviction records by employers for criminal background checks to determine if the practice was an unfair and discriminatory hiring barrier to job seeking ex-offenders. The EEOC’s actions, coupled with the growing “Ban the Box” movement seeking to remove the criminal history question from job applications, shows that employer use of criminal records is under fire now more than ever. This is Trend Number 1 of the fifth annual ‘Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Top 10 Trends in Background Checks’ for 2012. To view the list of trends, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/ESR-Top-10-Trends-in-Background-Checks-for-2012.php. Continue reading

Survey Finds Nearly All Retailers Polled Use Background Screening to Keep Customers and Stores Safe

Illustrating the importance of employee background screening in keeping customers and retailers safe, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has released a new survey completed by retail executives from nearly 100 of the nation’s leading department stores, mass merchants, discounters, drug stores, grocery stores, and restaurants that shows nearly all retailers polled – 96.6 percent – utilize some form background screening during the application, hiring, and employment process. The NRF ‘Background Screening: Protecting Retailers and Consumers’ Survey is available for download at: http://www.nrf.com/backgroundscreening. Continue reading

Ban the Box Movement Wants Question on Applications Asking Jobseekers about Criminal Pasts Removed

A Special Report on KTVU-TV Channel 2 News in San Francisco – ‘Ex-Felons Face Tough Road In Difficult Job Market’ – features a group pushing to “Ban the Box” that ex-offenders must check on job applications to disclose their criminal pasts to employers.

In the KTVU story, a truck driver – an ex-felon who served nine years in prison – believes the reason he cannot get an interview though he has applied for 80 jobs is because of the “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” question on job applications and claims that disclosing his felony conviction gives employers an excuse to ignore him. Continue reading

Supreme Court Ruling in NASA Case Limits Privacy Rights of Workers in Employment Background Checks

In a case pitting individual privacy rights of citizens against national security concerns of a country, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned a ruling limiting government inquiries about contract workers at a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) laboratory and ruled the federal government can ask employees about their drug treatment, medical conditions, or other personal matters during background checks and that the questions did not violate the constitutional privacy rights of employees. Continue reading

Inaccurate Criminal Background Check Information Leaves Innocent Man Jobless

By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor

A man from North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was stunned after he was fired from his job at a video-game store for ‘nondisclosure of information’ on his application caused by what turned out to be erroneous information on a background check, according to a story in the Philadelphia Daily News.

The 32-year-old man had admitted that he had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of simple assault, harassment, and related offenses for fighting, and disclosed this on his job application at a video-game store in North Philadelphia, PA. However, after a month of employment, his manager asked about any criminal record that he had not disclosed before firing him.

After being fired, the man interviewed for an overnight-manager position at another company and gave them permission to do a background check. A week later, he received a denial letter from the company and a copy of his background check which claimed he had been convicted in 1996 of felony cocaine possession in Gloucester County, Virginia and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The man – who had never even been to Gloucester County, VA and was still in high school at the time of the offense – called the background check company to dispute the information and the company cleared his criminal background check of the false felony cocaine charge. However, the video-game store did not re-hire him after the felony charge was cleared, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

After not having steady work since April 2009, the man now wonders how many other jobs that he applied for but did not get were because of inaccurate information on his background check.

This story – about an employee losing a job because of inaccurate information on a background check – shows why hiring (and firing) decisions made by employers must be based on timely and accurate background check information. Erroneous and out of date background check information exposes employers not only to bad hiring decisions but also to potential litigation from those people harmed by such data.

A reputable and accredited background check company can help ensure that the information found on background checks is accurate and up to date and limit the occurrence of “bad” background checks. For more information on background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

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). ESR was the third U.S. background check firm to be Safe Harbor’ Certified for data privacy protection. To learn more, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.

Source:
http://www.philly.com/philly/business/personal_finance/20101213_Innocent__felon___Background_check_gave_false_info.html

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/

ESR NEWS ALERT: Massachusetts CORI Reform Law Prohibits Employers from Asking About Criminal Convictions on Initial Job Applications Effective November 4, 2010

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Blog

Starting November 4, 2010, employers in Massachusetts will no longer be able to ask about convictions on “initial” job applications because of new legislation that prohibits employers from asking questions on initial written job applications about criminal offender record information, which includes criminal charges, arrests, and incarceration.

As previously reported on the ESR News Blog, the new law overhauls the Commonwealth’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law and contains several provisions that will affect the way employers use the criminal histories of prospective and current employees and impact Massachusetts employers performing criminal background checks on job applicants and employees.

While the new law does not prevent employers from obtaining criminal histories of job applicants or employees contained in the CORI database, under the CORI reform law those records will no longer contain:

  • Felony convictions closed for more than ten years, whether convictions occurred more than ten years ago or individuals were released more than ten years ago.
  • Misdemeanor convictions closed for more than five years.

In addition, the new law also includes the following provisions:

  • Employers that decide not to hire applicants or take adverse actions based on criminal histories in CORI reports must first give applicants copies of the reports.
  • Employers conducting five (5) or more criminal background checks per year must maintain a written criminal offender record information policy.
  • Employers are prohibited from maintaining CORI records of former employees or unsuccessful job applicants for more than seven years from the last date of employment or from the date of the decision not to hire the job applicant.

After the initial application of the CORI reform law provision which restricts questions by employers about criminal history on initial written job applications takes effect on November 4, 2010, employers that continue to ask questions on initial written applications about felony or misdemeanor convictions after that date may be subject to liability under the new law, experts warn.

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.malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2010/Chapter256
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2010/10/05/new-massachusetts-cori-reform-law-prohibits-employers-from-asking-about-criminal-convictions-on-initial-job-applications-starting-november-4/

New Massachusetts CORI Reform Law Prohibits Employers from Asking About Criminal Convictions on Initial Job Applications Starting November 4

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Blog

Starting November 4, 2010, employers in Massachusetts will no longer be able to ask about convictions on “initial” job applications.

In August 2010, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law new legislation that prohibits employers from asking questions on initial written job applications about criminal offender record information, which includes criminal charges, arrests, and incarceration.

The new law overhauls the Commonwealth’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law and contains several provisions that will affect the way employers use the criminal histories of prospective and current employees and impact Massachusetts employers performing criminal background checks on job applicants and employees.

According to a ‘Management Alert’ from law firm Sayfarth & Shaw, while the new law does not prevent employers from obtaining criminal histories of job applicants or employees contained in the CORI database, under the CORI reform law those records will no longer contain:

  • Felony convictions closed for more than ten years, whether convictions occurred more than ten years ago or individuals were released more than ten years ago.
  • Misdemeanor convictions closed for more than five years.

In addition, the alert indicates the new law also includes the following provisions:

  • Employers that decide not to hire applicants or take adverse actions based on criminal histories in CORI reports must first give applicants copies of the reports.
  • Employers conducting five (5) or more criminal background checks per year must maintain a written criminal offender record information policy.
  • Employers are prohibited from maintaining CORI records of former employees or unsuccessful job applicants for more than seven years from the last date of employment or from the date of the decision not to hire the job applicant.

As previously reported on the ESR News Blog, the initial application of the CORI reform law provision which restricts questions by employers about criminal history on initial written job applications will take effect on November 4, 2010. Employers who continue to ask questions on initial written applications about felony or misdemeanor convictions after that date may be subject to liability under the new law, experts warn. The other provisions described regarding the new law do not take effect until February 6, 2012.

For more information about employment background checks and the latest legal updates for employers, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Sources:
http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2010/Chapter256
http://www.seyfarth.com/dir_docs/news_item/8795eabd-0b60-47f6-9164-a58c9faf0d7a_documentupload.pdf
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2010/08/12/new-massachusetts-law-prohibits-employers-from-inquiring-about-criminal-convictions-on-initial-job-applications/

From the ESR Mailbox: Employment Applications and Questions about Past Criminal Convictions

By Lester Rosen, ESR President

From the ESR mailbox: Our HR department is changing our application form so that an applicant only has to answer questions about any criminal matter going back seven years. They say that this is required under the laws of many states, including California. Are they right?

Answer: The issue of whether employers can use a job application in order to ask about a job applicant’s criminal record is getting complicated. For example, starting November 4, 2010, such questions are not permitted in one state, Massachusetts. For that reason, employers should have their legal department or employment lawyer double check the application form.

Although Employment Screening Resources (ESR) cannot provide legal advice, based upon commonly accepted industry practices, there is not really a good justification for a seven year limitation on applications.

First, the seven year rule is limited to just eleven states (California, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington). Nevada also has a form of a seven year rule, but it appears to apply to reports issued for credit purposes and not employment.

Of those states, there is broad agreement that the seven year rule for Texas and Colorado has been pre-empted by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) because the rules were enacted too late to qualify for an exemption. A strong argument can also be made that it is pre-empted in California as well, although most firms still follow it.

Even for states with a seven year rule in effect, there is often an income exception, so that over a certain income level, a crime older then seven years can be reported. For example, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Washington waive the time limit if the applicant is reasonably expected to earn over $20,000 a year. So, as a practical matter, the limitation itself is very limited. California has no income exception, however.

Also, how the seven years is calculated can also get complicated. Seven years by no means actually means seven years. For example, a crime may have been committed more then 7 years ago, but if the person was still in custody within the seven years, it is likely reportable. Or a person committed a crime 9 years ago and violated parole or probation and spent a day in jail within the past seven years. That means the seven years clock starts over and it is reportable. The idea is that person must have been custody free for seven years. Generally speaking, being on parole or probation does not “toll” (or in other words stop) the seven year clock. It normally requires that an applicant be free of physical confinement.

Another critical point is that seven years is a reporting restriction is placed on a screening firm. Even for those states with a seven year rule, there is NO restriction upon an employer asking. Even if California, there is no requirement the employer limit the question to seven years.

The one other consideration, of course, is that going back too far can potentially create an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issue because an old crime may be less relevant to a job (depending upon the nature and gravity of the of the crime and the nature of the job).

In some states, there are limits on asking about arrests that did not result in a conviction, as well as additional state specific limitations.

The bottom line is that such a limitation in the application does not appear to be mandated by sate or federal law. However, your firm’s attorney is in the best position to give advice on this issue. For more information on what language to use in applications, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/articles/crime_and_employment_application.php .

For more information on employee background checks and pre-employment screening, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Source: http://hr.toolbox.com/blogs/background-checks/employment-applications-and-questions-about-past-criminal-convictions-41276