A recent article by two labor and employment attorneys published on the Association of Corporate Council (ACC) website – ‘Top Ten State Background Issues’ – summarizes key state background check issues that employers need to know about since there are an increasing number of state issues that must be considered by employers when conducting employment screening and drug testing on job applicants. Continue reading
According to a story that reflects a parent’s nightmare – ‘Mom says background checks are needed for college RAs’ – a mother in Tennessee wants a law that would require background checks on college resident assistants (RAs) after a University of Tennessee at (UT) Chattanooga student and former RA at the university was accused of placing surveillance cameras hidden in alarm clocks in the dorm rooms of her daughter and several other students. Police arrested the student – who was previously convicted on charges that included burglary, arson, harassment, and stalking – on more than a dozen charges. Continue reading
State lawmakers in Maryland have proposed legislation that would limit the ability of employers to run credit checks using credit reports and credit histories of employees and job applicants for employment purposes in response to complaints from job seekers in the state who said they were denied jobs after their would-be employers learned about their low credit scores, according to an article in The Baltimore Sun. Continue reading
In an effort to keep Human Resources (HR) leaders and professionals informed about the latest legislative, compliance, and regulatory issues affecting how they conduct day-to-day business in their workplaces – including employment screening and safe hiring – the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) will hold the 2011 SHRM Employment Law and Legislative Conference from Monday, March 14, 2011 to Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at the Hyatt Washington in Washington D.C.. For more information about the conference, visit: http://www.shrm.org/Conferences/EmploymentLawLegislativeConference/Pages/default.aspx. Continue reading
To avoid bad hiring decisions, employers have increasingly turned to pre-employment background screening as a risk management tool. However, no employment screening program can be conducted by employers without a full understanding of a number of laws including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), discrimination and privacy laws, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The challenge is even greater for California employers who must use caution when dealing with additional rules regulating employment screening. Continue reading
More than half of consumers approve of the idea of banning the use of job applicant credit reports by employers for employment screening, according to a recent survey.
A telephone poll survey conducted for Credit.com by GfK Custom Research North America from January 14, 2011 to January 16, 2011 interviewed 1,004 consumers about:
Employers have the right, with your permission, to check your credit report as part of background screening for employment. A number of lawmakers are interested in banning this practice – do you… Continue reading
A staffing firm that places individuals in temporary positions with independent employers cannot be sued under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when a background check firm hired by the staffing firm delivers a background check report that is inaccurate or erroneous.
In a case from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, a staffing firm retained an employment screening firm to provide a background check report. The background check report indicated that the plaintiff had been convicted of a felony and misdemeanor, had served jail item, was serving probation, and had made restitution for theft and assault. Continue reading
A proposed Colorado law would restrict the use of credit reports of job applicants by employers to certain situations, and make employers that use the information adversely indicate what information they relied upon in the credit report to make their decision. Continue reading
In a case that touched upon number of issues affecting background checks, a federal district court held that even though a background check report was erroneous and inaccurate, it had no bearing on the employment decision since a hospital had already decided to not hire a candidate based upon their prior knowledge of misconduct and a bad interview. Continue reading
The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report to the Chairman, Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives that revealed high rates of employees in all sorts of positions at both public and private schools – including teachers, volunteers, aides, support staff, and contractors – who had records of inappropriate sexual conduct and convictions for sex-related crimes.
The GAO report dated December 2010 – ‘K-12 EDUCATION – Selected Cases of Public and Private Schools That Hired or Retained Individuals with Histories of Sexual Misconduct’ – examined 15 cases that showed that individuals with histories of sexual misconduct were hired or retained by public and private schools as teachers, support staff, volunteers, and contractors. At least 11 of these 15 cases involved sex offenders who previously targeted children, and at least 6 cases involved offenders who used their new positions as school employees or volunteers to abuse more children.
The GAO report revealed that the following factors contributed to hiring or retention of sex offenders:
- School officials allowed teachers who had engaged in sexual misconduct toward students to resign rather than face disciplinary action, often providing subsequent employers with positive references;
- Schools did not perform pre-employment criminal history checks;
- Even if schools did perform pre-employment criminal history checks, they may have been inadequate in that they were not national, fingerprint-based, or recurring; and
- Schools failed to inquire into troubling information regarding criminal histories on employment applications.
Some examples of cases from around the United States that the GAO examined for the report include:
- Ohio: A teacher forced to resign because of inappropriate conduct with female students received a letter of recommendation from the school superintendent calling him an “outstanding teacher.” After being subsequently hired at a neighboring district, he was convicted for sexual battery against a sixth grade girl.
- Louisiana: A teacher and registered sex offender whose Texas teaching certificate had been revoked was hired by several Louisiana schools without receiving a criminal history check. A warrant is currently out for his arrest on charges of engaging in sexual conversations with a student at one of these schools.
- Arizona: A school rushing to fill a position did not conduct a criminal history check before hiring a teacher who had been convicted for sexually abusing a minor, even though he disclosed on his application that he had committed a dangerous crime against a child. He was later convicted for having sexual contact with a young female student.
- California: A sex offender was convicted for molesting a minor in 2000 and the school where he worked was aware of his conviction but did not fire him. After the GAO referred the case to the California Attorney General, officials placed the sex offender, who has since resigned, on administrative leave.
The GAO report also found no federal laws regulating the employment of sex offenders in public or private schools and varying laws at the state level. While some states required a national, fingerprint-based criminal history checks for school employment, others states did not. State laws also varied as to whether past convictions would result in termination from school employment, revocation of a teaching license, or refusal to hire.
GAO performed the study after a 2004 Department of Education report estimated that millions of students are subjected to sexual misconduct by a school employee at some time between kindergarten and the twelfth grade (K-12). GAO was asked to:
- Examine the circumstances surrounding cases where K-12 schools hired or retained individuals with histories of sexual misconduct and determine the factors contributing to such employment actions and
- Provide an overview of selected federal and state laws related to the employment of convicted sex offenders in K-12 schools.
To identify case studies, the GAO compared recent data in employment databases from 19 states and the District of Columbia to the National Sex Offender Registry and also searched public records to identify cases where sexual misconduct by school employees resulted in a criminal conviction. GAO ultimately selected 15 cases from 11 states for further investigation.
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a leading background check provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) performs sexual offender searches as well as criminal record searches around the United States supplemented by a national multi-jurisdictional search. Although no one search is perfect, ESR recommends a series of overlapping tools that must also include checking professional licenses and verifying past employment, especially looking for unexplained gaps in employment where an offender may try to hide past negative information.
For more information on background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.