Tag Archives: Small and Medium Businesses

Unregistered Sex Offender Who Worked at Small Business Shows Why Small Businesses Should Conduct Background Checks

In a story that shows why background checks are needed for small businesses, WCCO-TV CBS Channel 4 in Minneapolis, MN reports that a sex offender who worked for a small business in Minnesota that provided bouncy houses and other fun inflatables at birthday parties and graduations was recently arrested for failing to register as a sex offender.  WCCO-TV reports that the arrest that caught the owner of the small business, who was unaware that the employee was convicted of a sex crime in 1995, off guard. The WCCO-TV story is available here: ‘Sex Offender Case Highlights Need for Background Checks.’

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Alleged Killing by Cafe Worker with Criminal Past Demonstrates Need for Small Business to Perform Background Checks

A recent story from The Charlotte Observer about an ex-felon hired to work at a cafe who allegedly killed a pregnant cafe manager by fatally stabbing her during a robbery demonstrates the need for small businesses to perform background checks, as well as the risks taken when hiring employees with criminal records or the exposure to legal liability faced when failing to conduct thorough background checks on job applicants. The Charlotte Observer story ‘Killing puts background checks in spotlight’ is available at: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/01/28/2965684/killing-puts-background-checks.html. Continue reading

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Releases New Services for Background Checks for Small and Medium Businesses

Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a leading national employment screening firm announced today the release of a web site focused on providing quick and easy access to legally comliant essential background checks to small and medium businesses.  The service is available at: http://www.esrcheck.com/smallbizdivision.php.

The new service, called ESRDirect, provides small and medium business with a simplified online ordering system that is as easy as ordering a book online.  Employers have full control over their budgets since the exact final cost is available before the employer approves the request.  Users of ESRDirect also receive unlimited consultation with background screening specialist so that employers are not on their own in fulfilling this essential function. 

The new site is aimed at removing roadblocks faced by small and medium business that do not hire in large numbers but need to avoid hiring applicants that are dangerous, unfit, unqualified or dishonest.  A small or medium business may not always get the attention they need and may need to use a complicated ordering system that is difficult to remember if not used frequently. The cost can be a big surprise, if extra fees are added on for court costs or other third party fees. 

“With ESRDirect, small and medium employers enjoy the convenience of a simplified, cost-effective and intuitive system that does not drain their time, energy and budgets,” commented Jared Callahan, Director of Client Services, and a national speaker on topics related to safe hiring. “Small and medium businesses now have available the resources and tools enjoyed by Fortune 500 firms to keep their firms safe and profitable and the security of knowing they are conducting legally compliant background checks.” 

ESR further protects small and medium business by not sending data offshore beyond U.S. privacy laws, which endangers applicant privacy and can lead to identity theft. Furthermore, ESR does not expose employers to claims of discrimination by engaging in automated decision making. ESR supplies information to employers so they can determine if there is a business justification to utilize a criminal record in hiring, taking into account the nature of the crime, the nature of the job and the age of the criminal record.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the firm that literally wrote the book on background checks, The Safe Hiring Manual, and provides pre-employment screening services and drug testing internationally.  The firm specializes in legal compliance expertise and industry leading technology, service, accuracy and turnaround.

About Employment Screening Resources: Employment Screening Resources (www.ESRcheck.com) is a safe hiring partner and provides REAL background checks, not cheap database shortcuts or off-shoring or the use of home operators that endangers privacy. Contact:  Jared Callahan for additional information at 415-898-0044 or by email jcallahan@ESRcheck.com

The Unfair Use of Credit Reports and Criminal Records and the EEOC E-Race Initiative

By Jared Callahan, Employment Screening Resources

According to an article in HR Morning, the two biggest headaches for employers when it comes to hiring are the blanket  exclusion of individuals with poor credit histories or a criminal, record, and not showing a correlation between background checks and the job itself. 

The author notes that in response to seeing an increase in claims of discrimination based upon criminal records and credit reports,  the EEOC began the E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment).  This excellent article can be found at:

http://www.hrmorning.com/recruiting-eeoc-warns-about-background-checks/

As ESR has advised employer on a number of occasion, the unfair use of credit reports or the automatic exclusion of individuals with criminal records without considering if there is a business justification are two big area of potential liability for employers.  The Safe Hiring Manuel, the first comprehensive book on background checks that was written by ESR goes into these issues in detail.  It can result in an action by the EEOC or a lawsuit for discrimination.  Needless to say, employers would rather not face either.  As noted in a recent ESR blog, the EEOC has brought a legal action against one national employer alleging the discriminatory use of credit reports and criminal records. http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/1057/new-eeoc-lawsuit-for-discrimination-based-on-credit-report-and-criminal-records 

The one thing that small and medium businesses do not want to do is to use screening software that makes automated decision.  That is a big risk taken for no good reason.  

To attempt to minimize exposure, employers may want review the following articles by ESR:

  1. http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/815/basics-of-credit-reports-and-background-checks
  2. http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/942/the-basics-of-criminal-records-searches

Workplace violence and employment screening background checks

An excellent article on how employers can deal with workplace has appeared in the Coshocton Tribune in Ohio.  It was written by Ohio human resources consultant Jim Evans is president of JK Evans & Associates LLC, a Zanesville-based human resources consulting firm. 

The article recounted some recent incidents of workplace violence and reminded employers and managers that they are tools to prevent and deal with workplace violence.  For example, employers should have policies on how to deal with workplace misconduct, and managers should be trained to recognize the warning signs and how to deal with it.  The article also cites due diligent in hiring as an important tool to avoid bad hires and to demonstrate due diligence in hiring.  See: http://www.coshoctontribune.com/article/20091115/NEWS04/911150313 

This article underscores the critical role of pre-employment background screening plays in the hiring process.  For employers, there are a number of resources available to accomplish employment screening.  Setting up a program is very quick and easy, and the cost is minimal compared to just one workplace incident.  As a general rule, screening employees cost less then their first day salary.  In fact, an employer can provide a great deal of protection just by a well designed application, interview and past employment checking process. 

For job applicants, background checks are NOT an invasion of privacy.  The items being checked are what a person has done in their public life, such as where they worked, where they went to school or if there are relevant criminal records. Applicants also have a great deal of rights under federal law to view any report and to correct errors, and must give their specific consent and be advised of their rights.  There are rules about using criminal records unfairly. 

The bottom-line is that workers also want the protection of a safe workplace with qualified co-workers that have the credentials claimed.  More information on how to conduct employment screening and available resources is available at www.ESRcheck.com. A specific game plan for hiring is set out at: http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/730/cost-effective-employment-screening-and-safe-hiring-techniques-for-large-employers.

Background Checks for Small and Medium Business Owners

Its becoming a familiar story in the news: a small or medium business owner hires a new employee, fails to perform a background check or check references, and only after a crime has been committed does the business find out about the employee’s serious criminal record. By then, it can be too late. 

Hiring a person with a criminal record can lead to workplace violence, theft, and embezzlement and business disruptions. And in some cases, the cost of hiring a criminal can mean financial ruin, the end of the business itself, or injury and even death for co-workers, customers or innocent bystanders. 

There are millions of small and medium businesses in America, and yet it is estimated that only a small amount take meaningful precautions to know exactly who they are hiring.  The problem of course is that an employer of any size has an obligation to take reasonable steps in the hiring process to avoid hiring someone who they either knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known was dangerous or unfit for a particular job.  That is called “due diligence.” If an employer violates that duty, they can be sued for “negligent hiring.”  Employers generally do not hire someone that they know is dangerous or unfit for a job. It is the “should have know” that creates the difficulty.  Without taking steps to hire intelligently, it is almost a statistical certainty that an employer will hire someone with a criminal record that should have been considered in the hiring process. 

For many small and medium business owners, the time, money and effort for a background check can seem overwhelming. Being a business owner is one of the toughest jobs in America. Background checks can seem like a waste of time and money, particularly if the business had never had a problem in the past. Unfortunately, it only takes one bad hire to ruin a small business or to ruin someone else’s life. 

The good news is that there are five easy and common sense steps an employer can take immediately. These five steps take practically no time and the cost very little, especailly compared ot the risk of not doing anything. There is no reason that any small business has to hire blind. With theses simple, quick and inexpensive steps, any small business can protect themselves, their workers and the public from a bad hire. Here are the steps:

  • 1.  Have each job applicant sign a consent form for a background check, including a check for criminal records. By announcing that your firm checks backgrounds, it will discourage applicants with something to hide, and encourage applicants to be truthful and honest about any mistakes they may have made in the past. For maximum protection, the release should extend to future background checks for retention, promotion or reassignment unless revoked in writing. If the actual job starts before a background check can be done, make sure to tell the applicant that the position is conditioned upon the employer receiving a background report that the employer finds satisfactory. 
  • 2. Ask an applicant both in the interview and on the  application if they have any criminal convictions or pending cases. During an interview, always ask, “If we were to check with the courts or police department, would we find an criminal convictions or pending cases.” Since the applicant realizes they have signed consent for a background search, there is a motivation to be honest. Be sure to not limit the question to only felonies. Misdemeanors can be very serious although some states limit inquiries about certain misdemeanors. But, do not ask about arrests not resulting in a conviction. It is a best practice to make every job applicant fill out an application.  That protects the employer in many ways.  For example, it makes it easier to compare applicants and to verify information. 
  • 3.  Verify the applicant’s employment for the past seven years and ask them what they thing past employers will say about them.  This is crucial. An employer must call past employers to confirm dates of employment. An employer needs to look into any unexplained gaps in employment where the applicant cannot account for their whereabouts. Many employers make the mistake of not bothering to call previous employers because they have learned from experience that previous employers often will not comment on the specifics of a previous employee’s job performance. However, not calling previous employers is one of the biggest and costliest mistakes an employer can make. Even if the past employers do not comment on job performance, it is critically important to at least verify employment dates and job title. Just knowing that the person has a solid job history is vital information. 
  • 4.  Do a background check:  It is now easier then ever for an employer of any size to perform a background check.  For example, Employment Screening Resources offers ESR Direct, a special service designed for small and medium employers to do background cheeks quickly and easily.  Small and medium businesses can have all of the tools and resources available to Fortune 500 firms.  It is an easy to use and intuitive online system to conduct essential background checks such as criminal records, driving records, sex offender information and past employment, credential or education checks. The system is as easy as ordering a book online.  At checkout, employers view the final amount and simply use a credit card — no surprise fees.  ESR provides the necessary forms for the applicant to sign.  The system is as easy as ordering a book online.  At checkout, view the final amount and simply use a credit card –no surprise fees or costs and the employer controls exactly the services they need.  Most importantly, small and medium business owners have direct access to background checking experts to help them set-up their program. Employees can sign up using a very simple online process.  A small and medium business can be ready to go in 24 hours or less.  See:  http://www.esrcheck.com/smallbizdivision.php