Becoming a Ride-share Driver in California Just Became More Difficult

embattled-uber-pledges-better-background-checks-in-2015Are you thinking about becoming an Uber or Lyft driver in California to make a little extra cash? Well, that just became more difficult if you have a criminal past.

According to yesterday’s LA Weekly, criminal background checks on potential ride-share drivers have been extended from 7 years to infinity. So if you’re a 90 year-old looking to supplement your social security income, yet you committed a serious crime when you were 18, you might want to think twice.

In all seriousness though, the new laws are definitely tougher. However, Los Angeles cabbies must go through fingerprint-based checks  to check for previous crimes within the California Department of Justice and FBI databases. While many are applauding the move, some also think that ride-sharing companies (like Uber and Lyft) and taxi drivers should have to undergo the same type of screening process.

According to KCRA 3 in Sacramento, a woman named Marybeth McMann recently had a very disturbing experience while taking an Uber from the Sacramento International Airport to her home in Napa. She recounted her story:

“I always just assumed this it was safe because it was an Uber,” McMann said.

However, just minutes into her drive home red flags started going up as the driver began discussing his criminal history.

“It went down the rabbit hole of, ‘I was in a gang; and I was arrested for money laundering and did six months in federal; and that was nothing compared to the other times I was in jail,'” McMann recalled.

Then, the conversation got even more concerning – turning sexual in nature. She texted her husband and told him to meet them at a Napa Target store.

“The thought that was going through my head over and over is, ‘I just have to get home to my family,’” she said.

So while the legislation to improve rider safety in ride-sharing companies is a step in the right direction in protecting riders such as Marybeth, a criminal or two could still find their way through the gaps that unfortunately exist in the background screening world.



Security Screening at the Rio Games



Going into the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, there were concerns about the level of security. In 2015, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security had given Brazil a Crime Rating of Critical. Although the word was that security had improved, there was still trepidation from many athletes and their home countries.

Rio, in an effort to ease the minds of Olympic athletes and fans alike, instituted the largest security infrastructure in the history of the international games.

Everything should go smoothly, right?

According to many, while the number of security forces was high, the execution was poor. Security initially planned to x-ray screen all attendees. As huge lines of spectators in intense heat began to form outside of the stadium and spectators couldn’t get into the events. This resulted in half-filled stadiums for a number of events.

Changes needed to be made

According to the Wall Street Journal, retired police officers were brought in to help with the overwhelming screening needs. This proved to be a problem though as many of these retired officers were not trained with the current screening methods. The chaos continued…

E agora? (What now? in Portuguese)

As a result of the continued long lines and half empty venues, the Rio Olympics security personnel decided to x-ray screen attendees at random, while conducting physical searches on every individual. While this made the lines move quicker, it also could have proved to be the wrong decision.

So while here in the United States most of what we heard about from the media was a certain American swimmer and Dancing With the Stars contestant “relieving himself” outside of a Brazilian gas station, there were clearly more important issues involving the police and security at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Cost of Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law

pennsylvaniargbLocal school administrators have voiced growing concern over the administrative and monetary consequences of changes made to Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services law in 2014. The problem is that changes to the law, part of Keep Kids Safe PA, were all related to 24 components of legislation having to with child safety, and as a result, require multiple layers of screening. The required screenings, which range from the local police level to the federal level, also must be carried out on volunteer workers, including tutors, school coaches, chaperones, or anyone that has access to school children, and is not supervised. Further, the screenings must be renewed every five years.

People working outside of educational institutions are also affected by the changes to the Child Protective Services law. Administrators in Pennsylvania school districts are already becoming familiar with the new rules and investing their valuable time in the difficult task of managing the necessary background checks on volunteer workers.

Some school administrators expressed concern that people will stop volunteering because of the time and money required to undergo background checks. However, the governor subsequently waived the background check fee for volunteers, and reduced it for regular employees, who also must go through the same screening process.

As part of their FBI criminal background check, volunteers must provide fingerprints, although they can do other parts of the screening online. Companies in Pennsylvania that provide fingerprint services, like UPS, have seen their demand more than double since the new screening requirements for volunteers were put in place.

While administrators feel the burden of the extra time and money needed to comply with the new rules, on balance it is a good change, since Keep Kids Safe PA does just that, ensuring the safety and welfare of its children. The new screening requirements mean there is little or no chance that someone with a criminal history will have access to children. All in all, Kids Safe PA legislation has been successful at accomplishing the movement’s goals.

Pre-Employment Screening Tests: How They Relate to Jenga

hasbro-jengaFans of the famous Jenga game know well it requires forethought, cautious moves, and even careful planning, just like pre-employment screening.

For those not familiar with this popular Hasbro game, it works like this: Players build a structure, like a model of a tower or skyscraper, by arranging fifty-four rectangular blocks on top of each other, three blocks at a time. Each set of three blocks is laid perpendicular to the ones below it.

Then, after all fifty-four blocks are lain, players take turns removing select blocks from the lower part of the tower, and putting them at the top. They take turns doing this, until finally, the tower falls apart, and the blocks tumble to the floor.

The goal of course is to NOT be the who removes the block that causes the tower to tumble down. It is a simple game, with simple rules and a simple objective: don’t crash the tower. Yet it is difficult in that it requires good strategy and technique and sufficient manual dexterity to remove those blocks.

One way to play Jenga and not topple your tower, is to lightly tap the block before taking it out of the structure. By doing this, you get a feel for how much resistance or disturbance there will be if you take the block out, and then put it at the top of the tower. If on tapping the block, you sense little resistance or disturbance, you may then gather your courage and take the block out, slowly and carefully. Then, just as slowly and carefully, place it on the top of the tower.

On the other hand, if on tapping the block lightly, you feel great resistance, you may very wisely decide to leave that block for the next player to take out. The player who is best at the tapping and removing technique will eventually (and patiently) win the game, leaving the tower to fall apart for someone else, amidst gales of laughter and teasing. The player who lacks the patience and moves too quickly will surely see the tower tumble apart.

The analogy of Jenga to pre-employment screening is this:

When a company chooses to bring a new employee on board without it, they are in effect playing Jenga without tapping and carefully checking their move.

And this is no laughing matter. They are the impatient player who moves too fast, losing the game (or costing their company wasted time and money). Yes, pre-employment screenings do cost a little time and money, but over the long term pay off in a big way, because you are building your company with good people that stabilize your organization and help it grow, not tumble down around you. Importantly, this means you will avoid wasted time, wasted money, headaches and stress over the problems a difficult employee can cause, and even avoid a negligent hiring lawsuit.

4 of the Most Common Drug Tests


The Urine Test

A urine test to screen for drugs or alcohol is the most common and traditional kind of test given to prospective employees. The urine test is conducted at a lab or at the company location, and usually includes these five drug panel tests: amphetamines, marijuana, PCP, opiates, and cocaine. If an employer is interested or has reason to investigate further, they can request the fuller ten panel drug test, Alcohol passes through the body quite fast, so a urine test is more useful in detecting illegal drug use.

The Blood Test

A blood test is most commonly used to check for current levels of alcohol or drugs in the system, at the time the test is carried out. It is not as reliable as the urine test, but it works better for detecting current consumption.

Hair Follicle Testing

Hair follicle testing can be performed in order to give the employer a full picture of the prospective employee’s long term drug use, if any. This method of screening for drug use can detect traces of drugs months after consumption. Hair follicle testing, which has unquestionable efficacy, can detect illegal drugs like amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or PCP. Hair follicle testing can’t detect alcohol.

The Saliva Test

The saliva test is quicker and easier to perform than other methods, and is better at detecting specific substances. However, drugs and alcohol do not stay in the saliva for very long, so this type of test mainly used to check for recent usage, and for a specific substance.

The Rules of Fair Housing That Must Be Followed

homeseekers-house-word-cloud-current_0As a property owner, using a background check service will ensure that you follow all rules and laws with regard to fair housing regulations and are never charged with discrimination by prospective tenants.

Fair housing laws forbid discrimination based on race, color, religion, family status, disability, and in some situations, age and sexual orientation. For landlords, being aware of the laws is not enough, you must also be sure to follow them and avoid even the appearance of discrimination. Using a background check service is the best way to do this, because it ensures that every prospective tenant is treated fairly and in accordance with the law. And of course, doing a background check also means that you will have thought through your decision on a tenant carefully, and thoroughly.

Ask for the Same Information: Be Consistent

Before you start your background check on a potential tenant, make sure to have a list detailing all of the information you will require from them. Above all, be sure to ask everyone the same information. It is not ok to ask some questions only from a protected class of people, but not ask for the same information of others. For example, if you ask a Hispanic applicant for a copy of their W2 form, you should also this of a white applicant. You must be consistent in the questions you ask of every prospective tenant.

Ugly Charge of Discrimination

It is much easier to avoid the ugly charge of discrimination if you ask the same information from all of your tenants. This is because you have solid data to bolster your decision making process, and that also demonstrates why a tenant was selected. Make a detailed list of all of your requirements and use it every time you screen a tenant. If you are ever asked to show you are not discriminating, this list is the proof.

Numbers are Your Best Friend

If you have a set of numbers and data to guide you in selecting a tenant, you are immediately protected from any perception of discriminating against a protected class, because it is clear to everyone that the numbers and data are the criteria, and not anything else. And, of course, besides avoiding the appearance of discrimination, it is just good practice to base such an important decision on number and fact, and not your gut feeling alone. It is easier to remove a potential tenant from your list if you know, from a good screening process, that they are frequently several months behind on their rent, or even worse, have been evicted in the past. This is true, even if the potential tenant is a member of a protected class.

5 Elements You Must Consider in a Background Check Company

who-owns-your-background-check-companyUsing a background check service is essential for finding a responsible tenant or a qualified employee. But using just any service is not sufficient. There are many kinds of companies offering these kinds of services. If you want your screening process to be worth the money you pay for it, be sure it has the following features.


First, it is very important the background service be credible in the screening process they provide for you. After all, if you’re going to deputize a company to go searching through someone’s personal information, don’t you want that company to be trustworthy? 

A good background check company needs to be held to the same standards as the potential tenants or employees you hope to screen. In order to be sure your provider is credible, make sure that they are accredited. This means the background service company will have to go through audits by an independent agency to show that they follow all laws and regulations.


An old saying asserts that “even a broken clock is right twice a day.” That level of accuracy just won’t cut it when it comes to background checks. In many cases, a lot is on the line when a person has their background checked. The results may affect where they live and how they make their living, so it’s important to use a background check company that takes accuracy seriously.

Using a company that has been accredited will ensure that the company provides accurate results. You should also look for positive reviews on the company or other objective third party opinions, to double check that you are hiring a background check company that provides good results.


Timely results are a necessary feature of a background check service. Both you and your potential business partners need swift results, allowing you both to get back to running your company.

If you hire a provider that is slow or doesn’t meet deadlines, this makes the hiring process more difficult for you. The screening service is of no use to you if you get the results too late. Make sure the service you pick has a reputation for providing speedy results, set the deadlines up at the beginning, and ask them to stick to them.


At a base level, a background check should help you decide whether or not you’re comfortable doing business with someone. So what factors do you consider deal breakers? Make sure your background check business respects all of your relevant criteria, so you can make the most informed judgement call.

Most often, a background check should include a criminal check, reference check and drug testing, so make sure the background check company you select provides all of these services. The company you choose should have a full offering of services so that they can provide for all of your needs, otherwise you will waste time and money going to multiple providers. Review the offerings on the company’s website and ask their representatives to give you a summary of them, in order to make sure they do in fact provide the services they have listed.

Quality Customer Service

A background check requires careful attention to detail, both in the background check itself and in interactions with all parties involved. If a company is unprofessional with their customer service, it’s not unreasonable to assume they’re cutting corners elsewhere.

Responsive, patient, and informed customer service is necessary to guide you through the background check service, so essential to your hiring process. Look for companies that provide excellent customer service, because you will need timely responses and informed help as you go through the screening process.

3 Essential Things to Look for When Hiring New Employees

Performing a thorough background check on a potential employee is the first stop in limiting employee turnover and retaining good ones. A background check will help you with the difficult and time consuming process of hiring the right person for the right job, and one that will stay with your company for a good amount of time. Studies show that it costs more than $4,000 to hire a new employee, so be sure to use a good screening service to make this expense worthwhile. While a background check does take a little time and money, it is essential for the following reasons:

1. Verification of Qualifications

The primary reason for a background check is to be sure that all of the qualifications your potential hire present to you are true. If you don’t verify the education and work history (and identity) of your job candidate, you could very well find yourself looking for their replacement in the near future.

2. Eliminate those who Use Illicit Drugs

Second, you need to be sure that your new hire does not use illicit drugs. You can’t determine everything about a person with just one or two job interviews. With a background check, you can be sure that all of the positive qualities you saw in your new hire during the recruitment and interview process will not be marred by unpleasant surprises. A drug screening will tell you whether your bright, shiny new prospect uses illicit drugs, and you can then eliminate this person, saving you a costly mistake that could have terrible consequences for your company.

3. Eliminate those with Violent Tendencies

Last, you also need to be sure that your new hire does not have other qualities that you may have missed during the interview process. Your new hire should not have violent or confrontational tendencies. It is very important to be sure your new hire is not only qualified and a good match for the job role, but is also emotionally stable. Performing a background check will allow you to eliminate these kinds of people from consideration, saving you the time and money that would result from an incident in the workplace.

Consider Your Criteria Before Conducting a Background Check


Criminal-Searches-Uncovered-Part-2Knowing the difference between the various types of background checks and databases is important because the type of search you conduct will determine the information to which you are exposed.

The best way to distinguish each type of background check is to think about each one servicing a different niche. Each niche will delve into specifics based on what you are looking for. You would not run a general background check on someone if you only wanted to know about his or her criminal history, just as you would not refine your search to criminal databases if you wanted a comprehensive picture of someone’s personal background.

The Big Picture

The best way to get a broad analysis of someone’s personal, professional, educational, and financial history is to hire a background check company to perform a screening. These entities can provide results within days, and they can tailor the specificity of the information you would like to acquire. For a job applicant, an employer may want more information about job responsibilities in previous positions than details about education. Background screening firms can whittle that information with efficiency.

Criminal Records

Several criminal databases exist, and they do not all provide the same information. Some online criminal record search engines only detail records for convictions, not arrests, while others do not provide records on a national scope. Additionally, not every criminal record is available online, and the information you seek may require more grunt work. Knowing what you want to look for will save time and narrow the list of databases you need to check for records.

Social History

A person’s social history may exist in the annals of the Internet that criminal and court records can’t illuminate. Google searches and social media profiles are the most common ways to find information about an individual, but websites continue to pop up that can expose grittier information like online reviews from previous romantic partners or references from former employers, co-workers, and/or classmates.

The way someone can conduct a background check evolves rapidly, so the best way to save time and money in your search is to prioritize the information you need to know before you go looking for it.