This newsletter is sent to clients of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), as well as employers, Human Resources 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 “remove” feature at the end of the newsletter.

ESR’s offices will be closed on December 25th and January 1st in observation of the holidays. The entire staff at ESR sends their best wishes for the holiday season.

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December 2006 Vol. 6, No. 12

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Newsletter and Legal Update

1. New Study: Background Screening Reduces Discrimination in Employment

2. Handling False Education Claims in the Employment Application

3. FBI Criminal Databases – Good But Far From Perfect

4. ESR Announces 2007 Speaking Schedule

1. New Study: Background Screening Reduces Discrimination in Employment

According to a press release issued by the University of Chicago on Nov 21, 2006, a new study found that employers who performed background checks ended up hiring more black workers, especially black men. The reason, according to the study? In the absence of a criminal background check, some employers may use race to infer past criminal activity. A survey of 3,000 establishments in some major American cities found that employers who are averse to hiring ex-offenders were the most likely to statistically discriminate.

The bottom-line: Criminal background checks can actually help prevent discrimination by proving applicants do not have criminal records, and thereby overcoming assumptions employers may make. Making criminal records harder to obtain can have the unintended consequence of harming law-abiding citizens. According to the authors of the study, curtailing access to criminal history records may actually harm more people than it helps and aggravates racial difference in labor market outcomes.

The article is Perceived Criminality, Criminal Background Checks and the Racial Hiring Practices of Employers. Journal of Law and Economics: 49:2 (Authors: Harry J. Hold, Steven Raphael and Michael A Stoll)

2. Handling False Education Claims in the Employment Application

A recurring issue for employers is how to handle falsified educational credentials. False education is becoming an important issue for employers. Falsifications can range from claiming completion of degrees that were never completed, to presenting a worthless ‘degree’ obtained from a diploma mill, or even online printing services that provide very authentic looking fake degrees ostensibly from well known schools.

If a job requires an educational credential that an applicant fakes, it is fairy clear that such an act of dishonesty can be the basis to not hire.

However, what if a degree was NOT a job requirement. The problem of course is that if a candidate is willing to claim a false educational accomplishment, then that may undermine their honesty and veracity. On the other hand, the argument can be made that if there is no educational requirement that a false claim is irrelevant because it is not needed for the job.

To help employers handle such situations, one suggestion is to change the language on the employment application to the following:

Please list all degrees or educational accomplishments that you wish to be considered by the employer in the employment decision.

This statement has the advantage of putting the burden on the applicant to determine if they want to report a degree or educational accomplishment. The applicant is on notice that any degree they report can be used by the employer for the employment decision. If the applicant chooses to report a worthless degree, or a degree not earned, they can hardly complain if an employer uses that to deny employment, even if the degree was not a requirement of the job.

3. FBI Criminal Database – Good But Far From Perfect

Contrary to popular belief, obtaining a criminal record is not as easy as going on a computer and getting a thumbs up or a thumbs down. There are over 10,000 state and federal courthouses in the United States, spread out over some 3,300 jurisdictions, each with its own records file. There is simply no national computer database of all criminal records available to private employers. Period. End of story.

Yes, the FBI and state law enforcement have access to a national computer database called the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). However, it is absolutely illegal for most private companies to obtain criminal information from law enforcement computer databases without specific legal authorization. Examples are laws passed to authorize fingerprinting of teachers.

However, even the FBI database has significant drawbacks. First, the database relies primarily on the states to report. There can be significant differences between the states in the accuracy, timeliness and completeness of their reports. It can even vary from county to county. Secondly, the database is primarily an arrest database. The final disposition (or outcome) is often not reported.

The bottom-line: Even though the FBI database is a good source of information, it is currently far from perfect. For employers and organizations that have access to the FBI data, they need to keep in mind there can still be errors and criminal convictions can slip through the cracks. The best advice is to supplement any fingerprint search with a courthouse search of relevant counties.

Based on chapter 12 from, The Safe Hiring Manual-The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters Out of the Workplace, by ESR President Lester S. Rosen (Facts on Demand Press/512 pages). See:

4. ESR Announces 2007 Speaking Schedule

See 2007 Schedule Below:

ESR announces that the Safe Hiring Certification Training is now available in four separate mini-courses, in addition to the intensive 30 Hour course. The smaller course allows participants to focus in on just those areas of immediate interest and need. This is the first and only online educational and professional development course designed for employers, human resources and security professionals, and anyone responsible for risk management and due diligence in hiring.

The Safe Hiring Certification Training is a self-paced, on-line course that can be accessed at any time from anywhere, including at work.

Features of this course include:

  • Convenient 24/7/365 availability through any online connection
  • 21 self-paced lessons on Safe Hiring practices
  • A printable, 190-page workbook to facilitate note-taking and preparation for review quizzes
  • Review quizzes after each lesson featuring more than 300 questions about safe hiring
  • Easy access to useful Safe Hiring web-links
  • Sample safe hiring forms to help guide your own form development
  • Industry certification in Safe Hiring
  • Additional audio pointers by author Les Rosen (requires speakers but not a requirement for course completion)

Through this course, participants will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to implement and manage a legal and effective safe hiring program, including employment screening background checks. Upon successful completion, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion, marking a significant professional accomplishment. The course is offered at no charge to ESR clients.

The course is available at

More information is available at:

  • ESR wrote the book on background checks! ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ now in its third printing, is available from BRB Publications. Click here to read more. The definitive book on pre-employment screening, ‘The Safe Hiring Manual-The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters out of Your Workplace,’ has undergone its third printing since its introduction a year ago. The new printing also contains updates and new material.

ESR is pleased to participate in the following seminars across the United States

ESR 2007 Schedule

January 26, 2007 Scottsdale, AZ “Pre-employment Screening,2006 Annual Conference for the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA)

January 29, 2007National Teleconference on Screening Applicants Using Social Networking Sites: Legal or Liability? Lorman Seminars

January 30, 2007 Stockton, CA “Everything You Wanted to Know About Pre-employment Screening,Lorman Seminars

April 3, 2007 Sacramento, CA “Everything You Wanted to Know About Pre-employment ScreeningLorman Seminars

April 23/24, 2007 New Orleans, LA “Avoid Negligent Hiring-Best Practices and Legal Compliance” and “Extreme Caution Advised: Dealing with Federal and State Laws Regulating Pre-employment Screening and Background Checks.” 2007 SHRM Staffing Management Conference

June 8, 2007 Pasadena, CA “Everything You Wanted to Know About Pre-employment Screening,Lorman Seminars

June 10-13 Boston, MA PRIMA Conference (details to follow)

June 25/26, 2007 Las Vegas, NV “Negligent Hiring Mock Trial” and “Legal and Effective Reference Checking and Education Verification.” SHRM 59th Annual National Conference and Exposition.

Fall, 2007 Bangalore, India International Pre-employment Screening Conference (details to follow)

Contact ESR for further details.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR)

1620 Grant Avenue, Suite 7 

Novato, CA 94945


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