This newsletter is sent to clients of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), as well as employers, Human Resource and Security professionals, and law firms who require information on pre-employment screening, safe hiring, the FCRA and legal compliance. If this was sent in error, you can be removed from this mailing by using the â€œremove” feature at the end of the newsletter.
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April 2005 Vol. 5, No. 4
ID Theft Lawsuit Underscores Need for Thorough Background Checks on Workers Handling Confidential Data
A lawsuit against an outsource services firm providing payroll and personnel services for a unit of state government underscores the importance of conducting background checks on employees with access to personal and identifiable data.
According to a recent news story, a state employee in Florida filed a lawsuit alleging that her personal financial information was stolen by a payroll worker who worked at a private firm handling payroll services. The complaint said that the employee suffered â€œdamage to credit, inconvenience and emotional stress.â€ According to the news account, a routine check on the employee showed no offense, but it was later discovered that the accused had recently completed two years on probation for an auto-theft case.
Since the case is still pending, the full story on that particular incident is not yet known. However the allegations underscore a serious issueâ€”firms that handle sensitive and identifiable personal data should run in-depth background checks on employees. Given the identify theft epidemic sweeping America, employers need to exercise due diligence in the hiring, retention and supervision of employees handling sensitive personal data.
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse contains numerous resources on identity theft. See: http://www.privacyrights.org/index.htm
Employers should also review the publication, Prevent Identity Theft with Responsible Information-Handling Practices in the Workplace. See: http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/SDCountyIT.htm
New Tools for Hospitals and Safe Hiring
Hospital and health care organizations have new tools available to help meet their due diligence obligations in hiring.
1. Sanctions databases: Hospitals now have available a one-stop sanctions database to search for disciplinary actions taken by federal agencies as well as those taken by licensing and certification agencies in all 50 states. Over 700 sources are available. Included are two searches that most health care institutions currently conduct; the Office of Inspector General (OIG) (http://exclusions.oig.hhs.gov/search.html) and the General Services Administration (GSA) list of excluded parties (http://www.epls.gov/).
2. Sexual Offender searches: Hospitals can also run searches for registered sexual offenders. However, employers should be aware of the limitations on these searches, as outlined in the January, 2005 edition of the ESR newsletter.
3. National Criminal Data Files: Another tool available to hospitals are the national criminal database files. These are databases assembled by private firms that draw data from multiple criminal record sources from 47 states and the District of Columbia. It includes criminal data from criminal courts, state criminal record repositories, probation, prison parole and release files, sex offender registries and other government agencies. However, users should be aware that as with any database, this is a research tool only, and under no circumstances is a substitute for a hands-on search at the county level. Databases are subject to both false negatives and false positives.
Staffing Firms and Background Checks
One area where employers can be blindsided is working with temporary or staffing agencies. Employers would not intentionally bring people on the premises with criminal records that make them unsuitable for a particular job. Yet employers consistently hire temporary workers and independent contractors from staffing agencies with no idea who these people are. Employers hire temporary workers from agencies often without any assurance as to their background or qualifications. Given the sensitive information found on businesses computer systems, even one bad temp could do substantial damage.
Staffing firms may advertise in their marketing materials that they carefully â€œscreenâ€ all applicants, without stating the extent of the screening. An employer needs to be very specific when asking a staffing firm exactly what screening is done. Unless the staffing firm specifically tells the employer a criminal check is being done, an employer should not simply assume that a criminal check is being conducted.
An employer needs to carefully document what a staffing firm is doing because employers have a â€œco-employmentâ€ relationship with temporary workers. Even though workers may be on the payroll of a staffing agency, since the workers perform duties at the employerâ€™s place of business, the employer can be liable for harm that the workers cause.
Staffing firms are also being more proactive in screening candidates before sending them to client locations. Some staffing firms have learned the hard way that failure to spend a few dollars to conduct due diligence can result in millions of dollars spent, should a dangerous criminal or imposter be sent to work for a client. Every worker sent by a staffing firm, PEO or recruiter into a clientâ€™s workplace has the potential to put the staffing vendor out of business. Also, employers are increasingly requiring such checks.
For more information on background checks and staffing firms, please contact Jared Callahan at 415-898-0044 or by e-mail at [email protected]
ESR Announcements and Seminars; Safe Hiring Manual Updated and Revised Edition Available
â€¢ Employment Screening Resources (ESR), and Facts on Demand Press announced on April 8, 2005 the release of an updated and revised edition of “The Safe Hiring Manualâ€”The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters Out Of Your Workplace,” by Lester S. Rosen, president of ESR
The new version contains updated information stemming from amendments to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in 2003, as well as new information about international background checks, legal decisions affecting an employerâ€™s duty of due diligence, and new studies and statistics on the dangers of hiring without adequate pre-employment screening.
A comprehensive blueprint for developing a program to hire safe and qualified employees, “The Safe Hiring Manual” is written for employers, human resource departments, security professionals, staffing vendors, private investigators, and labor lawyers. The 512-page book details how to exercise due diligence throughout the hiring process, significantly increasing an employerâ€™s chance of avoiding the financial and legal nightmares of even one bad hiring decision. It is available from Amazon.com, Borders, Barnes and Noble and numerous other bookstores.
â€¢ See the new ESR free Interview Generator tool for employers. It is available at http://www.esrcheck.com/Interviewgenerator.php The Interview Generator helps employers to create customized question sets that can be printed out and used during an interview. An employer can also create sets of questions for each position, choosing from general sample questions listed or generating their own questions. Each interview set can be saved in WORD and can be customized by each employer. Using a “structured interview” helps employers ask permissible questions in a consistent fashion for all applicants for a particular position. An employer should only choose those questions that are valid predictors of job performance for a particular position.
ESR will be participating in the following seminars across the United States.
November 13, 2005 –Tampa, FL National Conference of Background Screening Firms- “Legal Update– What Every Background Firm Needs To Know About the FCRA and Laws Effecting Pre-Employment Screening.” (intended for background firms and record retrievers) http://www.searchforcrime.com/Conference/body.htm
October 6, 2005 –Long Beach, CA “Criminals, Imposters and Hiring – Legal and Effective Background Screening.” 48th Annual Professionals in Human Resources Association (PIHRA) Annual Conference. (www.PIHRA.org) Workshop–2 1/2 hours
September 23/24, 2005 –Baltimore, MD “What Every Recruiter and Staffing Professional Needs to Know About Background Checks, Negligent Hiring and Keeping Criminals and Imposters from Putting Them out of Business.” The National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) Annual Conference.
September 22, 2005 –Orlando, FL “Avoid Hiring Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters” 2005 National Safety Council Congress.
September 12, 2005 –Orlando, FL “Pre-Employment Background Screening–How to Keep Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters Out of Your Workplace” ASIS International 51st Annual Seminar and Exhibits, Monday, September 12, 2005 at 1:30 PM.
June 16, 2005 — Kennedy Information Audio Conference on “Background Checks and Recruiting — Avoiding the Disaster of a Bad Hire.” Additional information to be posted on ESRcheck.com
May 18, 2005-San Mateo, CA. ” Criminals, Imposters and HR—The Legal and Effective Use of Criminal Records and Background Checks in the Hiring Process.” San Mateo County EAC Lunch meeting.
April 25, 2005–Little Rock, AR “Background Screening and Higher Education: Special Issues involving Background Screening and Due Diligence in the Educational Environment.” Annual Conference for the Southwest Region for the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR). CUPA HR
Employment Screening Resources (ESR)
1620 Grant Avenue, Suite 7
Novato, CA 94945