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Two Major Retailors Settle in New York State Over “Ban the Box” Violations

New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, recently announced settlements with national retailers Big Lots and Marshalls, over “ban the box” violations in Buffalo. According to the AG’s press release, the investigation “found that both Big Lots and Marshalls had distributed applications for employment that made inquiries into the criminal history of prospective applicants at their Buffalo stores.  Both companies have agreed to take steps to ensure that such applications will not be made available to those seeking employment at those stores.  Those steps include new policies, training, and reporting to the Attorney General’s Office. In addition, Big Lots agreed to pay a monetary penalty of $100,000, and Marshalls will pay a penalty of $95,000, while simultaneously making affirmative efforts to recruit applicants with criminal histories through an organization with expertise in training formerly incarcerated individuals.”

 

Several communities in New York, including New York City, Buffalo and Rochester, have enacted “ban the box” legislation, which require employers to wait until later in the hiring process to inquire about criminal history.

 

As we have mentioned in our blogs on the subject, the “ban the box” trend continues to gain momentum. These settlements in New York state should again serve to remind employers that they need to be aware of not just federal and local laws and regulations when hiring, but also local requirements. And if you have any questions or concerns, Corporate Screening’s team is available to assist.

Corporate Screening President Wins 2016 Distinguished Marketing and Sales Award

MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, OHIO (January 13, 2016) Corporate Screening Services, Inc. (CS), a leading provider of pre-employment and student background screening services, is pleased to announce that its president, Greg Dubecky, is a recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Marketing and Sales Award (DMSA). The DMSA acknowledges excellence and provides community recognition for outstanding sales and marketing achievements.

The 55th Annual Awards Banquet will be held on February 25, 2016 at Cleveland Public Auditorium. It will honor the 2016 Business Executive of the Year as well as the 2016 DMSA recipients. For more information, visit the Cleveland Sales & Marketing Executives (SME) website at www.smecleveland.com/eventDMSAAward.asp.

About Corporate Screening

Corporate Screening (www.CorporateScreening.com) is a Cleveland-based provider of pre-employment screening and background check investigations for many of the nation’s top employers and schools. As a leading consultant to human resources and corporate security professionals, Corporate Screening combines state-of-the-art data gathering technology with in-depth examination and analysis to verify information and mitigate the risks associated with hiring employees. Corporate Screening’s professional staff of analysts and consultants serves the needs of hiring professionals representing a full spectrum of industries, with special emphasis on healthcare, financial services and manufacturing sectors.

 

“Ban the Box” News and Updates

As 2015 ended and a new year began, there’s been more “ban the box” activity. The term refers to the box on a job application form that asks, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” In December 2015, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) reported that over 100 cities and counties, as well as 19 states have adopted these policies “so that employers consider a job candidate’s qualifications first, without the stigma of a conviction record.”

 

Here’s a quick round-up of legislation:

 

WOIO News reported that in December, Ohio governor John Kasich signed a law that would prohibit public employers from including questions about criminal background on employment applications.

 

Also in December, WBNG News reported that the city of Ithaca, New York will no longer ask applicants if they have been convicted of a crime, unless they are applying for a position that restricts applicants from being hired if they have certain prior convictions.

 

And as a reminder to employers, Corporate Screening put out a client alert in December about Oregon’s “ban the box” law, which became effective on January 1, 2016.

 

In 2016 news, the city of Asheville, North Carolina, is considering removing the criminal history question from its job applications. In early January, local ABC affiliate, WLOS, reported that the City Council’s governance committee will begin discussions on the subject next week.

 

Also in early January, Florida state Rep. Randolph Bracey told WFTV News that he expected “ban the box” legislation to be taken up by committee the following week. Bracey is a co-sponsor of the bill to remove the question from state applications.

12/23/2015 Reminder – Oregon “Ban the Box” Law Becomes Effective January 1, 2016

As a reminder, Oregon’s “ban the box” legislation goes into effect on January 1, 2016. The law prohibits employers from asking about criminal history on job applications, and cannot ask about it before the first interview. If there is no interview, the employer must make a conditional offer of employment before asking about criminal convictions.

 

Certain employers are exempt from this law, such as law enforcement and other employers required by law to ask about an applicant’s criminal history. For more information and details, please refer to Corporate Screening’s June 29, 2015 blog post.

Corporate Screening Holiday Hours

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Happy holidays from Corporate Screening! We wish you and yours a happy holiday season and a joyous New Year.

Our offices will be closed on the following dates and times:

  • Friday, December 18: Office closes at 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 24: Closed
  • Friday, December 25: Closed
  • Friday, January 1, 2016: Closed

HR Professionals: Close the Year with These Important Tasks

As 2015 comes to an end, everyone is consumed with year-end activities. Corporate Screening’s partner, ERC, has put together a list of five essential activities to wrap up the year. These include:

 

  1. Update job descriptions
  2. Review and update company policies
  3. Conduct performance reviews
  4. Review record retention guidelines, and
  5. Review compensation

 

For more information, as well as sources and resources that you can use as you complete these tasks, check out 5 Essential Year-End HR Activities from ERC. For more information about ERC, visit their website at www.yourERC.com.

Background Solution Integrated with Oracle Taleo

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Corporate Screening and its partner, Acuity Cloud Solutions, recently presented a webinar that provided information about Oracle Taleo and Corporate Screening’s integrated backgrounds solution.

The unique background screening solution is completely customized to meet your organization’s needs, offering a more efficient and streamlined process. It also  and takes place in the latter stages of the hiring, enabling employers to comply with the EEOC’s most recent criminal background guidelines.

If you are a current Taleo user or are considering using it and were not able to join the webinar, please contact Matt Jaye, National Sales Manager at Corporate Screening at 800-229-8606. He will help you find out more about how to integrate your background screening program into Oracle Taleo’s new Onboarding (Transitions) module.

Oracle Taleo Implementation: Acuity Cloud Solutions and Corporate Screening Offer a Complete Solution

 

Is your organization using Oracle Taleo or considering it? Corporate Screening Services and Acuity Cloud Solutions have teamed together to present a complimentary webinar that showcases a complete Oracle Taleo package that includes a one-of-a-kind integrated background screening solution.

 

Acuity’s team are Taleo experts, and can assist with implementations, upgrades and optimizations, training and support. And by including Corporate Screening’s OPN certified screening solution, employers are able to build in a customized background screening process that will fit their unique business needs.

 

Learn how Acuity and Corporate Screening can help your organization benefit from customized configuration capabilities and a streamlined background check process. Join our webinar on December 2, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. EST to find out more. Space is limited so sign up soon!

 

To register, please contact Customer Service at 800.229.8606 and ask for the link to register for the webinar.

 

New Order To “Ban the Box” for Federal Government Job Applicants

NBC News and the Indianapolis Business Journal report that President Obama recently announced that he directed the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to wait until later in the hiring process before asking about an applicant’s criminal history. The OPM oversees federal hiring.

 

The announcement was made during a visit to a treatment center in New Jersey. Under the directive, applicants will not be immediately asked about criminal history. It will apply to federal employees, but not contractors. The president said that the new process will allow applicants a better chance to be hired for federal positions. This is not something new for many government agencies, though. According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, the White House said that most federal agencies already wait until later in the hiring process to ask the question about criminal past.

 

The “ban the box” movement has been rapidly gaining momentum at the state and local levels over the last few years, and the president has appealed to Congress, asking it to pass such legislation. It remains to be seen if lawmakers will act on this or continue to let state and municipalities enact these laws.

Complying with the New York City Fair Chance Act

On October 27, 2015, New York City’s Fair Chance Act will go into effect. This “ban the box” law prohibits most employers from asking about criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment is extended. In June and at the beginning of October, Corporate Screening published a couple of client alerts discussing the Fair Chance Act. With the law becoming effective on October 27, 2015, we wanted to share information by attorneys Pamela Q. Devata, Cameron A. Smith and Courtney Stieber at Seyfarth Shaw regarding best practices for complying with the New York City Fair Chance Act. They write:

 

Given the imminent effective date of New York City’s Fair Chance Act, employers may be wondering what they need to do to comply with the law.  As many employers are aware, effective October 27, 2015, the Fair Chance Act amends the New York City Human Rights Law to prohibit most employers from inquiring about criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment is extended (see our prior blog post here). (Some employers may fall into the exceptions of this law.)  The law also imposes upon employers the obligation to provide applicants with a copy of the relevant inquiry (e.g. the consumer report) and the company’s analysis under Article 23-A of the New York Corrections Law (in a form to be determined by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (“NYCCHR”)).  However, because the NYCCHR has not yet published the required form, many employers are in limbo, awaiting guidance for a law they are obligated to comply with in mere days. Considering this fact, employers may want to consider taking the following actions:

 

  1. Review all pre-employment forms. Employers should ensure that job advertisements, applications for employment, interview questionnaires, and all other pre-conditional offer documents make no reference to the fact that a background check will be conducted, that criminal history will be considered, or otherwise inquire about criminal history. 

 

  1. Train hiring managers. Hiring managers should be trained not to ask questions about criminal history prior to a conditional offer of employment.  If a job candidate independently informs the manager of his or her criminal background prior to a conditional offer, managers should be trained to respond that such information is not considered by the Company at this stage in the process.

 

  1. Revise the adverse action protocol.   The Fair Chance Act requires that prior to taking adverse action based on criminal history an employer:

(a) provide the applicant with a copy of the “inquiry” (which by definition includes “any question communicated to an applicant in writing,” “any searches of publicly available records,” or consumer reports);

(b) conduct an analysis in accordance with Article 23-A and provide a written copy of that analysis to the applicant, and any supporting documentation that impacted the analysis; and

(c) keep the job opportunity open for at least three business days after the applicant receives the above documentation before taking adverse action.

 

The law anticipates that employers provide a copy of the Article 23-A analysis in a “form” to be provided by the NYCCHR, but this form has not yet been issued.  Until the form is available, employers may want to consider utilizing an individualized assessment form, which lists each of the eight factors of consideration under Article 23-A, and details the employer’s consideration of each factor and the basis for its adverse determination.  A copy of this document should be provided to applicants in the event of an adverse action decision until the NYCCHR’s form is released.

 

  1. Consider best practices for direct inquiries to the applicant.  Many employers may still wish to ask the applicant personally whether he or she has a criminal history.  Such inquiry is still permissible under the Fair Chance Act, provided (1) it occurs after a conditional offer of employment is given; (2) the applicant is provided a copy of the inquiry, at the same time as the applicant is given the consumer report and any Article 23-A analysis (as described above); and (3) the question otherwise complies with the state law limitations as to the type of criminal history an employer is permitted by law to consider.  Employers are still able to terminate or refuse to hire an individual who makes misrepresentations in responding to a criminal history inquiry, but employers should follow the notice protocol above and as set forth in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) before taking action.

 

  1. Review FCRA disclosure forms. Employers should ensure that their FCRA disclosure forms accurately describe the information to be obtained by the Company in a consumer report.  And, particularly in light of the Fair Chance Act’s companion law, the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act (SCDEA), applicants should not receive disclosure forms mentioning that a consumer report may include credit history information, unless the applicant meets an exception under the law.  (See our prior Client Alerts here and here.)

 

If you have questions or concerns, Corporate Screening is here to help. Please contact us at 800-229-8606 or email us at CustomerService@CorporateScreening.com.