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July 2005 Vol. 5, No. 7
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Newsletter and Legal Update
With the recent events in Europe, private employers may revisit the issues associated with keeping terrorists out of their workforce. Employers in sensitive industries, or involved with the countryâ€™s basic infrastructure, need to take appropriate measures to prevent terrorists form becoming employees. However, even employers that would not ordinarily consider themselves a potential target need to exercise caution because it is not predictable how a terrorist act may occur. Furthermore, an employer may simply be used as a place of employment while waiting to perform some future act.
The challenge, however, is that private employers do not generally have access to the type of governmental data that may be most effective. The challenge is increased when employers hire individuals who spent time abroad, necessitating an attempt to perform international background checks.
There are, however, a number of databases that are available to private employers. The most commonly used is a database maintained by the US Treasury Department called the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), that is responsible for administering US laws to impose economic sanctions against individuals, businesses and organizations hostile to the US. There are a number of other watch lists by other departments of the US government, as well international lists maintained by Interpol, the United Nations, Canadian authorities, the Bank of England and others. A screening firm can access a number of such lists for employers. For a list of the most commonly utilized terrorist watch lists available to private employers, see: Terrorists Lists
Before utilizing these terrorist lists, employers should consider the following:
- As with any database, there is a significant possibility that a terrorist may not be on the list, or that a terrorist may change their name or take other steps to avoid identification.
- These lists should only be used in conjunction with a combination of other safe hiring tools such as verification of past employment.
- If there is a match, it is critical for an employer to take further steps to confirm identity. Applicants should not be the subject of discrimination merely due to a name similarity or nationality.
More in-depth information about international background checks and terrorist checks are available in ESRâ€™s book, â€œThe Safe Hiring Manual-the Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters out of Your Workplace.â€ See The Safe Hiring Manual
The need for employers to exercise due diligence in hiring was underscored recently by a lawsuit against retail giant Wal-Mart. According to a June 17, 2005 article in the Arizona Republic, a Phoenix law firm filed a suit against Wal-Mart for the negligent hiring of an employee who was accused of molesting several young girls, ages 3 and 4, in a store in Scottsdale. The employee allegedly committed one such act while passing out stickers to children. According to the plaintiffâ€™s attorneys in the case, the employee had been accused of similar conduct in another retail store in the past, but Wal-Mart did not conduct a background check or supervise the employee properly.
According to the news article, Wal-Mart began a program of background checks on new sales associates in September 2004, but they did not check the criminal records of current employees hired before that time.
Although this case is only in the beginning stages, and there have been no factual determinations, this type of lawsuit is a good example of why employers need to exercise caution when they hire. Current employees, especially those who are placed in a position of authority in a retail store, who interact with a group potentially at risk, such as young children, can be screened by employers, provided that there is a written authorization and a disclosure under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
On August 27, 2001, a worker sent by a well known home repair firm raped and murdered Sue Weaver in her home and then set the home on fire to destroy the evidence. Her killer was a twice-convicted sex offender that had been hired six months prior to clean her air ducts. According to a news article in the Dayton Beach News Journal Online, a civil case was settled for nine million dollars.
In response to the death, a group started an organization called The Sue Weaver CAUSE, CAUSE standing for â€œConsumer Awareness of Unsafe Service Employment,â€ to promote education and awareness in the memory of those that have lost their lives to unsafe service employment. See: http://www.sueweavercause.org/
The site gives the following advice before allowing a home service employee to enter your home:
- Commit to only doing business with those service companies that perform criminal background checks on their workers and subcontractors.
- Just because you trust the company you hire, it doesn’t mean the employees they send into your home are not convicted felons.
- Criminals use their employment to find their next victim.
- Bonded and insured does NOT mean a background check has been preformed on the worker.
- Many major companies use subcontractors – you may not be hiring who you think.
- Always ask for the name of the person who will be sent to your home.
- Do not hesitate to say “No” if you do not feel safe when the worker arrives.
- Commit to conduct background checks on anyone you hire to work in your home, e.g., care givers, maids, gardeners.
- Do not be alone with service workers. Invite an adult to be with you while work is performed.
For additional advice on how to protect yourself, see: Home Protection Article
- ESR is pleased to offer a brief 4-page survey on best practices for pre-employment screening. The results will be published in a future newsletter. Your participation will help ESR to design new programs and procedures that help employers engage in safe hiring. See: Employment Screening Survey
- Look for the ESR SPONSORED SEMINAR series below. ESR will be putting on complimentary HRCI certified workshops, staring in the San Francisco Bay Area and continuing throughout the US.
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
November 10, 2005 ESR SPONSORED SEMINAR Pleasanton/Dublin, CA “Avoid Negligent Hiring-Best Practices and Legal Compliance.” Part of a 4-date workshop series in the San Francisco Bay Area. Workshop is free and attendees will receive continuing education credits towards their PHR/SPHR certification, as ESR is now a HRCI approved provider. See https://www.esrcheck.com/ESR_seminars.php to sign up or read more about the events.
October 27, 2005–Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX “Human Resources, Homeland Security and the War on Terrorism“ 2005 HR Southwest Human Resources Conference and Exposition.
October 11, 2005 ESR SPONSORED SEMINAR San Jose/Santa Clara, CA “Avoid Negligent Hiring-Best Practices and Legal Compliance.” Part of a 4-date workshop series in the San Francisco Bay Area. Workshop is free and attendees will receive continuing education credits towards their PHR/SPHR certification, as ESR is now a HRCI approved provider. See https://www.esrcheck.com/ESR_seminars.php to sign up or read more about the events.
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 29, 2005–Milwaukee, WI “Criminals, Imposters and HR—The Legal and Effective Use of Criminal Records and Background Checks in the Hiring Process.” 19th Annual Wisconsin SHRM State Conference. www.wishrm.org
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 Exhibition, Monday, September 12, 2005 at 1:30 PM. www.asisonline.org/
September 8, 2005 ESR SPONSORED SEMINAR San Jose/Santa Clara, CA “Avoid Negligent Hiring-Best Practices and Legal Compliance.” Part of a 4-date workshop series in the San Francisco Bay Area. Workshop is free and attendees will receive continuing education credits towards their PHR/SPHR certification, as ESR is now a HRCI approved provider. See https://www.esrcheck.com/ESR_seminars.php to sign up or read more about the events.
September 6, 2005–Tucson, AZ â€œHuman Resources, Terrorism & the Patriot Actâ€. See: 2005 Arizona SHRM State Conference
July 28, 2005 ESR SPONSORED SEMINAR Emeryville, CA “Avoid Negligent Hiring-Best Practices and Legal Compliance.” Part of a 4-date workshop series in the San Francisco Bay Area. Workshop is free and attendees will receive continuing education credits towards their PHR/SPHR certification, as ESR is now a HRCI approved provider. See https://www.esrcheck.com/ESR_seminars.php to sign up or read more about the events.Contact ESR for further details.
Employment Screening Resources (ESR)
1620 Grant Avenue, Suite 7
Novato, CA 94945