Federal Government looking into flawed background checks

The Justice Department filed a civil complaint against its largest security check contractor, alleging they defrauded the US out of 700,000 flawed background checks.

The firm, USIS, was responsible for conducting background checks on NSA leaker Edward Snowden, and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. The suit claims about 40% of the background checks between March 2008- September 2012 were not completed per the agreement of their contract.

One former USIS employee claims the company rushed background screenings through to secure over $12 million in bonuses from the federal government, while giving the impression the screenings were more in-depth.

According to the company’s whistleblower, USIS used software to mark electronic “Review Complete” notations, without property completing the mandated screening process.

The government paid USIS between $95-$2500 per background check, depending the level of security and type of screening completed.

For this and more information about employee screenings, please visit our website at http://www.verifyprotect.com.

Cause for concern? Obamacare law doesn’t screen possible felons

Two lawmakers are questioning why persons who assist with signing individuals up for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act are not required to undergo criminal background checks.

The  congressmen – Pete Sessions R-TX, and Darrell Issa R-CA – wrote an oped for the Dallas Morning News expressing concern that “navigators” authorized under the ACA to be entrusted with sensitive and personal information could actually be convicted felons because there is no system in place for screening.

Sessions is concerned that that an oversight in the in 2010 ACA led to the law not requiring criminal background checks for navigators. These persons are charged with handling social security numbers and personal financial information, which could lead to identity theft and fraud if left in the wrong hands.

The only stipulation in the law is that navigators shall not work for any health insurance provider or receive any kickbacks from insurers for enrollees.

What do you think? Should there be a federal requirement for all navigators to undergo criminal background checks?

For this and more information about employee background screenings, please visit our website http://www.verifyprotect.com


NY Lawmakers considering stricter background check laws

New York lawmakers are asking state adult care facilities to offer suggestions on how to improve hiring practices after two endangerment incidents in 2013 were made public.

Earlier this year, a level 3 sex offender was discovered to have inappropriate contact with a 91-yr old resident in an assisted living facility.

A second worker, who was employed by a home for disabled adults, was found sleeping in a locked room during work hours. The residents of the facility ended up pulling the fire alarm when they could not locate her, which alerted authorities. It was revealed the employee had a criminal record that included prior arrests for DUI and drug-related charges.

New York does not currently have a state law requiring assisted living homes to do background checks on employees. One senator has decided that needs to change.

Senator Huge Farley plans to introduce legislation that would mandate criminal background screenings for all persons working with disabled adults.

For this and more information about employee screenings, please visit our website at http://www.verifyprotect.com



CA law cracks down on employee background screenings

A new law signed by California governor Jerry Brown now requires that state and municipal governments must first determine if job applicants are qualified for a position BEFORE inquiring about their criminal past.

This law was in response to groups lobbying for employers to lower the barrier for employment. The momentum for “Ban The Box” laws has been gaining speed in recent years, with Hawaii being the first to overhaul job applications with questions about criminal convictions fifteen years ago.

California’s new law also requires that state and local agencies also delay an employee background check until they determine if a candidate is qualified for a position. However, positions that are exempt include this in law enforcement or education, where background checks are required by law.

Ten states now have Ban the Box laws, with Minnesota and Rhode Island passing similar legislation this past summer.

For this and more information about the legalities of employee screening, please visit our website at http://www.verifyprotect.com

Navy Yard Shooter Passed Employee Background Check

Defense contractors who ran a criminal background check on navy yard gunman Aaron Alexis this past June said his record contained only information about a traffic violation. However, further research into Alexis’ past found that at least two prior incidents involving gunfire saw him questioned by police.

A Seattle police report from 2004 alleged Alexis was arrested for “mischief” after he shot out the tires of a man’s care after an argument. Later in 2010, while stationed in Fort Worth he was arrested again after a neighbor reported he shot a bullet through the ceiling of her apartment. The neighbor said Alexis had complained about noise and she told police she was “terrified” of him. He was not charged in that incident because he claimed the gun discharged accidentally.

Despite these incidents, Alexis not only cleared the background check performed by his most recent employer, but he also had security clearance to access the navy yard in Washington, DC.

In addition to his employee screenings, the Virginia gun shop where Alexis purchased the weapon used in the mass shootings also conducted their own background screening this summer. There no red flags in that report, either.

The defense contractor that employed Alexis this year said they would not have hired him had they known about his previous arrests for gun-related offenses. Many are now questioning how he was able to maintain his security clearance despite being honorably discharged from the Navy in 2011 for misconduct issues. Currently, federal standards require employees with such a clearance only need to be re-vetted every ten years.

What do you think? Should the shooters previous gun incidents have showed up on background screenings?

For this and more information about employee background screenings, please visit our website at http://www.verifyprotect.com

For more information on employee screenings and criminal background checks, visit http://www.verifyprotect.com

Background Screenings ban some parents from schools

Criminal background checks are not only keeping teachers with prior convictions out of schools, they are keeping some parents from volunteering where children need them the most.

One county in Louisville, Kentucky has rejected hundreds of parents from being able to volunteer at their childrens’ schools because of past criminal records. Some of the parents being flagged had committed crimes decades ago, but the school has a strict policy against convicted felons. Even individuals with non-violent convictions, which had nothing to do with children, have been blocked.

This is not the first school system in the U.S. to bar parents with criminal records from volunteering. Two years ago, parents in a Michigan county lobbied the school board to change their policy. They asked the city to consider volunteers with criminal backgrounds on a case-by-case basis instead banning them across the board.

Last year, a Rhode Island school system revised its policy after a mother was prohibited from volunteering after a background check revealed of a felony drug conviction that predated the birth of her daughter. Now, the county doesn’t automatically disqualify parents with drug or other offenses, and gives consideration to each individual’s history. Parents are also allowed to plead their case by presenting proof of rehabilitative efforts and demonstrate current community involvement.

What do you think? Should parent volunteers in be banned from chaperoning field trips because crimes they committed in the past?

For more information on employee screenings and criminal background checks, visit http://www.verifyprotect.com

Seattle Laws Restrict Employee Background Checks

This November, new laws will go into effect that will restrict how employers in the city of Seattle can use information obtained through criminal background checks.

First, the ordinances will affects the timing of when an employee screening may be completed. Employers will only be allowed to proceed with a background check AFTER job applicants have been interviewed and been given considering for a position based on their experience and having other necessary qualifications.

Employers are also limited to how they can use information obtained through a criminal background report. First, the employer can only disqualify a job candidate based on their convictions, not for crimes they have been arrested for and subsequently acquitted.

Secondly, the employer has to offer legitimate correlation as to why a person’s criminal record could make them a high-risk employee for a particular business or job position. For example, a person with a DUI conviction can be refused a job driving a bus, but not necessarily a job answering telephones.

If the person’s criminal background report reveals the job candidate is pending litigation for a crime, they can only be refused employment if there is a legitimate business reason they could be a threat to the company. For example, a person who is being accused of shoplifting can be turned down for a job as retail manager with access to store merchandise.

There are some employers who are excluded from the new criminal background limitations. Those include positions held in the category of law enforcement officers, security agents, criminal justice, or those working with minors, elderly and disabled adults.

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Background Checks Lead to Charges of Racism

Last week, the EEOC filed two complaints against Dollar General and BMW, claiming the companies discriminated against black job applicants following employee criminal background screenings.

Currently, EEOC guidelines encourage employers to make several considerations with information received from a criminal background check. They ask that companies consider individual circumstances such as when the crime was committed, the severity of a charges, and if the candidate was convicted.

Dollar General is accused of disqualifying applicants with a criminal background history regardless the severity of the crime or length of time since charges were levied.

BMW is accused of discriminating against black workers after a newly implemented background sweep resulted in 88 employees being let go. Seventy of those employees, or 80% of them, were black.

The EEOC requires that employers determine whether or not a person’s previous conviction is in any way a threat to an employer’s business practices. For example, a job applicant who has been convicted of stealing can be denied a position working with money.

In the cases filed against Dollar General and BMW, the EEOC claims those companies did not have sufficient reason to terminate or deny employment to individuals based on information obtained in the background screenings.

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Boston Schools Broaden Employee Background Checks

In January, Massachusetts’ Governor Deval Patrick signed the Act Relative to Background Checks bill into law. This law now allows the school systems to perform national criminal background checks on employees. Previously, employees were only screened for crimes committed in the state of Massachusetts.

In February, a Boston Herald investigation revealed that a man with two previous drunk driving arrests plus multiple breaking and entering convictions was currently employed to drive a van for a public high school. As a result, the Boston area began performing a sweep of background checks on their current employees. The results have been shocking.

The area has 9,000 school workers, and currently one-third of the background checks have been completed. So far, 11 “support” staff” employees (non-teachers) have been placed on administrative leave due to their criminal records. Some of the employees had a history of serious offenses that included: felony kidnapping, drug possession, assault, and unlawful ammunition possession. Of the eleven staffers with previous offenses, none of them had ever been charged with a sex crime.

Prior to this year, a school review board only turned down job applicants who had been convicted of serious crimes. Now, more consideration is being given to those employees who’ve also been charged with a crime, but had a non-conviction. The panel realized some individuals who made plea deals that resulted in non-convictions should be turned away as well.

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Family Wants Social Media Background Checks After Workplace Shooting

Last summer, a supermarket employee in New Jersey walked into his workplace and killed two employees before shooting himself. It was later revealed the gunman had posted this chilling question three years prior on his Twitter account: “Is it normal to want to kill ALL of ur (sic) coworkers?”

In the wake of this tragedy, family members of one of the victims are now lobbying for legislation that would require an employer to review a job applicant’s social media history as part of their background check before hiring them. Aptly named “Cristina’s Law” after 18-year-old victim Cristina Lobrutto, the bill contradicts new legislative proposals by state and federal lawmakers seeking to protect an individual’s right to social media privacy.

This year, thirty-five states currently have legislation pending that would prohibit employers from requesting an applicant’s social media password as a condition for employment. Maryland, California, Washington, New Jersey, Illinois are some of the states that have already passed such laws. Similar legislation also prevents colleges and universities from requesting social media personal information.

Advocates of Cristina’s law argue that if employers had seen the New Jersey shooter’s previous Twitter posts, he never been hired by the supermarket chain. Opponents of the law argue that reading one’s social media history is the equivalent to asking for their personal diary or reading private emails. Lawmakers voting to prohibit social media screenings feel that a basic criminal background check should be sufficient.

So what do you think? Should employers be able to consider social media posts before hiring applicants, or is this a violation of privacy?

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