What You Need to Know about Ban the Box Legislation

It is important for employers and hiring managers to be aware that leading screening professionals have predicted that “ban the box” legislation and policies will become more and more prevalent across the nation. In fact, Ban the Box laws have been adopted in 24 states already and over 150 cities. This means that those making hiring decisions will need to tread with increased caution as they process candidates with criminal histories.

What is Ban the Box?

The Ban the Box movement began with the intention of protecting job applicants with criminal records from immediate disqualification based on their criminal history. Under Ban the Box, employers may not use the existence of a criminal record as the sole reason they do not extend a job offer, unless the nature of the job in question creates an exception.

Essentially, the phrase “ban the box” means the removal of the question (or questions like it), “Do you have a criminal record?” that requires the applicant to answer “Yes” or “No,” from preliminary job applications, whether physical or electronic. The idea is that everyone deserves a fair shot at employment and applicants should be judged first on their knowledge, skills, and abilities before the mistakes of their past are used to immediately disqualify them.

What Ban the Box is NOT

Ban the Box is not the negation of criminal background checks. They are still permissible, advisable, and even essential to many job descriptions, especially those in the financial sector and those that work closely with children and the elderly. What Ban the Box does is delay the probing into criminal history until after the applicant has had a chance to demonstrate their individual merit.

In short, Ban the Box:

  • Is legislation designed to give individuals with criminal histories a fair shot at employment
  • Is increasing in adoption and prevalence across the nation
  • Is NOT the end of criminal background checks

VICTIG is eager to answer your questions on Ban the Box and any other background check issues the will arise. Contact us today!

How Background Checks Have Been Changing in 2017

For those involved in hiring, the new year has brought with it many changes in a variety of sectors, and the background check industry is no exception. We have seen a number of trends emerging in 2017, trends that employers and hiring managers need to be aware of as they expand and manage their teams..

Attorney Lester Rosen listed his predictions for these top ten trends in a recent post, and we’ll expand on each in coming posts. The list includes predictions for 2017 on the growing adoption or prevalence of:

  1. “Ban the Box” legislation
  2. Re-entry and second chance programs for ex-offenders
  3. The expectation of stronger security measures from screening providers
  4. Adapting to on-demand workforce, or members of “gig economy”
  5. Post-hire due diligence in the form of continuous screening
  6. Innovative and progressive screening software
  7. Adapting to unique background and expectations of Millennials in the screening process
  8. FCRA lawsuits
  9. Adapting to legalization of marijuana in drug testing
  10. Increased scrutiny of potential discrimination issues

Best Practices for Employers and Hiring Managers

While the impulse might be to feel some anxiety about the changing face of the background check industry, it will be helpful to remember these best practices:

  • Compose a thorough and clear background check policy for your company.
  • Ensure that written authorization is always obtained before running checks.
  • Ensure FCRA compliance with all policies.
  • Avoid blanket policies that generally excludes candidates or employees based explicitly on their criminal records.
  • Ensure that exclusionary policies based on criminal has direct relevance to job description.
  • Invest in technologically current screening providers.

By adhering to these best practices, employers can avoid the headache and liability of FCRA infractions and protect their companies by finding and hiring only the most qualified candidates. VICTIG is proud to be an experienced provider of FCRA-compliant background policies. Contact us for more information.

Why Make the Job Applicant Process a Pleasant Experience for All

When your main interests are the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of your hiring practices, it might seem like an afterthought to also concern yourself with how your job applicants feel about your methods. But applicant experience should be on your checklist, and here’s why.

In addition to the simple wisdom of adopting as efficient and intuitive practices and technologies as possible, the rising generation of Millennials has come to expect it. And they are fast making up the majority of the workforce in the U.S. In fact, the Census Bureau estimated that the population of Millennials surpassed that of Baby Boomers back in 2015.

What Are Applicant Expectations?

In addition to a smooth and efficient process, today’s job applicants expect:

  1. accurate (thorough) background checks
  2. practices that legally compliant with the FCRA and EEOC
  3. privacy (they will have provided written authorization to run the background check, with the understanding that the results are confidential and will be handled appropriately)
  4. transparency (they know what you’re pulling and why)
  5. a clear and upfront written policy
  6. a method of disputing results
  7. an explicit policy of how they will contact social media background checks (many Millennials consider them an invasion of privacy)

Statistics to Consider

According to research conducted by CareerBuilder, the practice of employers using social media background checks increased by 500 percent in the last decade. Obviously, this is directly connected to the rise of social media sites, but it’s important to consider that the FCRA regulations extend to the use of social media content and should be treated with care. The last thing an employer wants to the accusation of discrimination.

Treading this ground carefully is part of ensuring that job applicants have a positive experience with your application process. But the main consideration is finding a screening provider who can ensure the compliance, efficiency, innovation, and security you need to extend the same experience to your job applicants.

Things to Remember When Conducting Social Media Background Checks

When’s the last time you posted something you regretted on social media? It happens! Whether you’re oversharing or ruffling feathers, it can be tempting to think that social media is the ultimate safe space to soap box, but now and increasingly into the future, employers like you will be leveraging social media searches in their background checks of prospective employees. As mediums for self-expression, Twitter and Facebook are not as “safe” for members of the workforce as we might like to think.

Members of the workforce aged 18 to 34—Millennials—often consider probes into their social media activity an invasion of privacy, but according to research conducted by CareerBuilder, the practice of employers using social media background checks in their hiring decisions increased by 500 percent in the last decade. Obviously, this is directly connected to the rise of social media sites, but it’s important to consider that nearly half of employers and hiring managers, according to the same research, decided not to hire the job candidate based on information uncovered in a social media background check.

Conversely, nearly one third of employers who used social media to screen candidates discovered information that lead them to hire the candidate.

Reasons for NOT Hiring

These reasons included the posting of:

  • provocative or inappropriate images and videos
  • information about candidate’s drinking or drug use
  • discriminatory comments related to race, religion, and gender

Reasons for Hiring

Social media factors that contributed to an employer’s decision to hire a candidate were:

  • profile and posting information supported applicant’s qualification claims
  • candidate conveyed professionalism even on social media
  • candidate’s personality seemed a good fit with company culture
  • candidate conveyed well-rounded image and varied interests
  • candidate demonstrated well-honed communication skills

Areas of Caution

Employers should still exercise caution when incorporating social media background checks in their employee screening processes, as you never want to be accused of discrimination based race, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.

How Millennial Workers Will Change Background Screening Methods

In 2015, the population of Millennials (people aged 18 to 34) surpassed Baby Boomers (people aged 51 to 69), according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, by .5 million. This may not seem like a large margin (the population of Baby Boomer population was estimated to be 74.9 million, while Millennials numbered 75.4 million), but the trend is indicative of a changing workforce and employers’ consequent changes in their employment screening processes.

Attorney Lester Rosen of Employment Screening Processes states that “employers need to be sensitive to special issues in hiring and working with millennials. Studies and practical experience show Millennials are influenced by factors much different than Baby Boomers and are motivated and communicate in different ways.”

The Changing Face of the U.S. Workforce

As Millennials continue to outnumber Baby Boomers, employers, their workplaces, and hiring processes in the U.S. will have to adapt to the increasingly mobile and social-media-oriented behaviors of this generation. There is a reason the Millennial generation has been called the most “wired” generation in history. Millennials have been groomed to expect (even demand) intuitive, user-driven technologies even in the hiring and screening process and will be attracted to those organizations that are up-to-date and as fast-paced as they are.

Other considerations employers should make for the up-and-coming generation are:

  • Millennials, simply because they are younger, may have less information to obtain in the screening process
  • Work and credit history will be relatively limited
  • As many millennials have found car ownership impractical (or simply not an option), driving records will be sparse due to the rise of rideshare services and public transit
  • Millennials comprise a large portion of the workforce in what has been dubbed the “Gig Economy,” whether by employing themselves in freelance or working as driving for TNCs like Uber and Lyft

Going Forward

Adopting innovative hiring processes is not only a strategy for attracting technology-savvy Millennials, but it will ultimately benefit your company by protecting your interests in the most effective and efficient way possible. Bringing ideal people onto your team is imperative to your long-term success, and doing so begins with effective and intuitive screening.

Understanding Worker’s Compensation Reports

Making hiring decisions is no small task. Like dating, the hiring process is a meticulous investigative endeavor designed to sift out pebbles and unearth the gems. We all know the feeling when the process fails us and we end up with a pebble in our shoe. Comprehensive background checks, when done well, are the ultimate sieve.

By vetting candidates with diverse and thorough forms of verifications, which can include worker’s compensation reports, we can confidently make hiring decisions that will not only protect against future liability, but will ensure the continued success and profitability of your company. That is, after all, the whole idea, right?

Why Request a Worker’s Compensation Report?

One of the pieces of this comprehensive puzzle is the worker’s compensation report. Many employers choose to request these types of reports in order to further verify the legitimacy of the application. The American’s with Disabilities Act naturally forbids employment discrimination based on an applicant’s medical history and any worker’s compensations claims made in their past, but verifying the legitimacy of these claims is entirely within the employer’s rights.

What Does a Worker’s Compensation Report Consist of?

Worker’s compensation reports contain the following information:

  • the date and time of the injury
  • nature of the injury
  • injured body part(s)
  • medical status
  • and if applicable, the adjudication dates and type of settlements

Not every report may look the same or contain the same categories, and the ADA mandates that the contained information be used solely for informational purposes and not as a factor in the decision to take adverse action (the decision not to hire). In fact, some states do not provide these records at all.

For the states that do, VICTIG offers thorough reporting on worker’s compensation records.

Why Request Worker’s Compensation Records in a Background Check

A comprehensive background check is compiled of parts that when separate only give an incomplete snapshot of the individual in question. Only by capturing each separate image and bringing them together to make a complete picture will hiring managers be able to make hiring decisions with confidence. Some of these snapshots are references from landlords and previous employers, worker’s compensation claims, criminal history investigations, credit reports, and social security searches.

If your specific interest lies in researching worker’s compensation claims, you’ll need to be aware of special rules and requirements for the use of this information.

In 2012, a Federal court case (Bachman vs. Donahoe) ruled that worker’s compensation records fall outside of the FCRA definition of what is considered to be a “consumer report.” Consumer reports are considered to fall under one or more of seven categories:

  1. credit worthiness
  2. credit standing
  3. credit capacity
  4. character
  5. general reputation
  6. personal characteristics
  7. mode of living

As a result of the 2012 ruling, employers don’t need to obtain written consent from the individual in order to request worker’s compensation records from a reporting agency. However, that doesn’t mean that the use of these types of records is unregulated. They are protected under the American’s with Disabilities Act, which mandates that inquiries into medical histories should be postponed until the concluding steps of the hiring process. Additionally, worker’s compensation records should be considered separately from other the other background check snapshots (inquiries) and should be order at a separate time.

So the question remains: when should a worker’s compensation report be requested?

When is the Right Time?

The ADA protects employees from being discriminated against because of their medical histories and past worker’s compensation claims. Requesting reports should be done with the intention of procuring proof of previous injury and are provided for that reason. This information shouldn’t necessarily be considered vital to the hiring process, but incidental. In fact, some states do not make these reports available.

So Why Request a Report?

Proof. Some employers simply want to verify the legitimacy of the application. And who can blame them? Hiring managers bear the important responsibility as gatekeepers of the company. What’s at stake is the security of business assets. Investing in comprehensive background checks that may even include worker’s compensation records is the best way to protect the interests of your company.

Conducting Faster Background Checks

As any background check provider worth a second look will tell you, a quality background check takes time, persistence, and ingenuity. A screening process is only comprehensive, after all, if it approaches a background check like a series of important steps (verifications) rather than a giant box to be checked off all at once.

Time is Money

When time is money, how to do you conduct a quality background check on potential employees without spending a lifetime doing it? Unfortunately, any given background check isn’t held up for the same reason as the one before. It can be due to any number of things, from missing data to unresponsive parties. But there are a few areas that deserve special attention:

  1. Criminal Searches: there’s a vast difference between instant criminal databases and a search of county-level criminal records. The first difference is that instantly accessible databases are typically incomplete and non-compliant with the FCRA. They may seem faster, but they won’t do you any favors in the long run. Many employers are opting for thoroughness in the form of investigations into state repositories, national locator databases, and sex offender registries. In other words, employers are casting a wider net and thereby adding to the turnaround time of any given background check.
  2. Digital versus Physical: some legal jurisdictions are paper-logged, meaning they’ve yet to digitize their records. This will mean that a background check is held up by a court clerk needing to sift through paper records.
  3. Lack of Digital Integration: again, in place of digitization of information, screening providers are forced to utilize court runners to retrieve information for background checks, which opens the doors wide for variables like inclement weather and construction to impede an investigation.

Speeding Things Up

In light of these possible impediments, there are things you, the employer, can do to help speed up the process. The first is to be choosey when it comes to selecting a screening provider. Don’t be swayed based solely on price. Consider whether the provider has leveraged technology to make their services innovative and integrated with the different courthouses and repositories.

How do they address or guarantee their turnaround time? What are the actual methods they use to deliver? Rather than just relying on words, investigate how they do it and consider the savings their services represent to you, factoring in your potential loss of productivity as you try to do background checks on your own.