Sunday, August 30, 2015

Don’t Roll the Dice! Why You Need to “Ban the Box” Now!

#SmallBiz #BantheBox #Hiring

Despite the continuing wave of states and cities adopting “Ban the Box” legislation, there are still companies who have not taken action.  They continue to use applications that contain “the box” or ask whether their applicants have a criminal record early in the hiring process.

Are You One of Them?

Small Businesses Take Note ~ Ignoring “Ban the Box” is like Rolling the Dice!  “Tweet This”

Now is the time to take action.  Assess your applications, both physical and online, to see if they include any questions about prior criminal records.  You also need to make sure they comply with any state and local laws where you do business.

You are not Compliant if You:

  • Ask Your Applicants if they have ever Been Convicted of a Crime 
  • Require them to Check a “Yes” or “No” Box concerning their Criminal Past
  • Include in Your Application a Warning that if they Lie in answer to either of these questions they will be eliminated from your list of potential hires.

According to a recent EmployeeScreenIQ survey* of managers and HR professionals; 

“more than half (53%) of respondents indicated that their companies continue to ask candidates to self-disclose criminal histories on employment applications despite EEOC guidance that recommends its removal as well as a number of state and municipal laws that “ban the box.”

As a business owner, it is completely understandable that you want to have as much information as possible on your potential hires ~ and that includes whether or not they have a criminal history.

What is important to remember is that these “ban the box” laws only apply early on in the hiring process.  They do not prevent you from asking about your applicant’s criminal history after the interview or a conditional offer of employment has been made.

You can find out more about “Ban the Box” and how it impacts your hiring process in my article “Background Checks & “Ban the Box” - The Pendulum Swings”!

Despite some states that are “Taking ‘Ban the Box’ to Far” (find out more here), removing the “box” from your applications and not asking about a criminal history too early in the process still makes sense!

Even the EEOC has weighed in on “Ban the Box”.  They recommend that you not ask about criminal history on your applications as “Best Practice”.  The EEOC even goes further in advising that when you do ask, it is only when that criminal history is relevant to the job you are filling.

You also need to realize that by not banning the box, you are opening yourself up to legal risks.  

In Minnesota, for example, their recent “ban the box” law lists these penalties for companies that fail to comply;

  • Employers with 10 or fewer employees ~ penalties up to $100/violation, not to exceed $100/month.
  • Employers with 11-20 employees ~ penalties up to $500/violation, not to exceed $5oo/month.
  • Employers with 20+ employees ~ penalties up to $500/violation, not to exceed $2,000/month.

The city of Baltimore has taken it even further.  Their law allows for misdemeanor criminal charges and a fine to be filed against employers who are guilty of violations.  The fine cannot exceed $500 or include imprisonment for more than 90 days, or both, for each offense.

However, the real risk to you, the employer, is a discrimination suit claiming you are using your applicant’s criminal history as a way to discriminate.  And that can start with continuing to use “the box” on your applications!

My advice?  Why take the gamble and put yourself in the danger of being noticed by the EEOC?

As a best practice, you should act now and remove any question involving criminal history from your applications.  Being proactive and voluntarily complying before any allegations are made is good for you and your company.

Remember, any time you can take measures to stay below the radar of the EEOC, it makes good business sense! (You can find out more about Flying Under the EEOC Radar here).

What can You Do to Comply?  Here are some Do’s and Don’ts:

#SmallBiz #BantheBox #EEOC

DON’T: Include questions about criminal history on your job application.

DO: Review and Revise your employment applications.  Remove any questions you find concerning criminal history and make sure only the new version is used both on paper and online.

DON’T: Ask Your Applicants to Self-Disclose their Criminal History early in the hiring process.

DO: Take a look at Your Hiring Policies.  Make sure you are delaying any questions concerning prior criminal convictions or any criminal background check until after the interview or a conditional offer of employment has been made.

DO:  Train everyone involved in your hiring process in following your new guidelines.

Keeping up with these ever changing laws can be challenging. A good background check company can help!  Contact me and I will help you navigate the world of hiring and background checks!

In the meantime, it makes sense to do what you can now ~ and eliminating the “box” from your applications is an easy first step!

Don’t continue to Roll the Dice!

#SmallBiz #BackgroundChecks

Please Share this and leave a comment.   I would love to hear your thoughts!  Thanks!

Authored by    

For more tips on Hiring and how to make sure your Small Business compliant, visit my Website!  I can guide you in creating good hiring policies.

And to learn more about What I Do and Why, check out my Services and About pages!

Let’s Connect!  Contact Me to find link to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter profiles and more! 

*Source:  Employee Screen IQ 2015 Survey

Sunday, August 23, 2015

You are the Target of an EEOC Lawsuit: What You Should Know!

#SmallBiz #EEOC

Finding yourself the target of an EEOC allegation or lawsuit can be scary.  You fear the stress of having to defend yourself in court, the possibility of being saddled with high fines, or even the prospect of losing your business.

But before you get yourself into full panic mode, there are things you should know and others that you should do that can help protect you and your business.

First and foremost, you should understand that you have rights.  In many ways, those rights parallel those that the EEOC insists be given to job candidates ~ you are entitled to clear notification of the charges and the chance to explain, mitigate, or remedy them.

In addition, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act states that the EEOC must engage in “informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion” with you, the employer, before any lawsuit is filed. Only in the event that the conciliation has failed is the EEOC able to file in court.

Before filing a lawsuit, You Have the Right to:

  • Be Notified about the Alleged Infraction ~ this may be done by mail or email (so pay attention to your inbox!) 
  • Be Informed of the Alleged Harm Suffered by Your Employee(s)
  • Be Provided the Chance to Enter into Discussions with the EEOC concerning the Infraction
  • Be Given the Opportunity to Remedy the Situation

If the EEOC does decide to file a suit, they must include a sworn affidavit  that they have met all of these requirements.  But you also have the right to provide a statement of your own indicating what you believe to be the EEOC’s failure to do so. 

Here is where a Judicial Review begins.  

Courts are currently putting the EEOC on notice that how they handle employee allegations can be reviewed.  While their power may be limited to reviewing the EEOC’s efforts of conciliation, or lack of effort as the case may be, it is a start.  

The key point to remember is that the EEOC must comply with their Title VII obligations to conciliate with you before resorting to litigation.  This is your Right!

And if you are successful during the Judicial Review in proving your charges that the EEOC failed, then the court would order the EEOC into talks with you.  

While this will not clear you of the EEOC’s charges, it will give you the chance to enter into discussions with them and possibly even settle before any court proceedings begin.

That is why it is important that you know what you should do if you find yourself the subject of an EEOC allegation.  

4 Things to Do if the EEOC has Targeted You!  “Tweet This”

#SmallBiz #EEOCLitigation

Be Sure to:

  1. Respond Immediately to any EEOC Notifications of Alleged Infractions in Your Hiring Processes.
  2. Verify that the Notification includes a detailed description of the infraction and the alleged harm it caused to your employee(s).
  3. Request that the EEOC enter into conciliation with you to resolve the issue prior to the filing of any lawsuit.
  4. Keep Detailed Documentation of everything concerning the case; letters and/or emails from the EEOC, transcripts of any discussions, and the results of those communications and discussions. 

Being proactive and requesting, in writing, that the EEOC lives up to their obligations of notification and conciliation helps you keep some control over the situation.  And your thorough records of all steps taken will be invaluable in the event of litigation.

Then, if the EEOC still files a lawsuit, be sure to request a judicial review to determine whether the EEOC truly met their Title VII obligations.

Before it ever comes to this, there are steps you can take to help your small business fly under the EEOC radar.  You can find more about them here

Discovering you are a target of the EEOC does not have to ruin you.  If you take steps beforehand to be as prepared as possible, understand your rights, and know what to do if the EEOC notifies you of an alleged infraction, then you are ahead of the game.

And that is a much better place to be!

Please Pay it Forward and Share this article on your favorite social networks!  And be sure to leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you!

Authored by   

For more information on how to keep your hiring processes safe and compliant, Contact Me!  I can Help!  You will also find links to connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more! 

And to find out more about what I do and why, visit by About and Services pages!  Thanks!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Social Media Check ~ The Forgotten Screening Tool Pt 4

#SmallBiz #SocialMediaCheck

When it comes to employment background checks, there are certain things that come quickly to mind.  Criminal court record checks, degree verifications, and even confirming past employments are usually part of the package.

However, there are other screening tools that can be just as important.  I call these the “Forgotten Screening Tools”.

Read on.....

Do You Know Why, When, and How You can check your candidates Social Media sites before hiring them for your Small Business?

In part 4 of my series on “Forgotten” Screening Tools, I will take a look at these questions and help you decide whether doing a Social Media Check on your applicants is good for you and your Small Business!

Social Media searches are not so much a “forgotten” tool, as they are misunderstood.  It may seem like the information you would find should have no bearing on your employment decisions.  But that is not a wise way to think.

I will show you reasons why checking your applicant’s social media can yield information that will help in your hiring decisions.

Why, When, and How to Use a Social Media Check in Your Small Business Hiring Decisions!  “Tweet This”

  • Why Would You Do a Social Media Check?

There are definite reasons why doing a Social Media Check on your applicants makes sense.

One reason would be to find any relevant information and posts that contain professional information that could be used as a cross-check against their resume.  This can be the first step in verifying resume accuracy.

Another reason would be to look for things that could work both for and against your candidate.  Posts that give you a better insight into them and their character would be your focus.

Pros and Cons to Look for in your Social Media Check:

#SmallBiz #Hiring #SocialMediaCheck

Essentially, a Social Media Check, along with other screening tools, helps you discover things that may either give you pause or alarm you or even leave you with a better opinion of your potential candidate.

  • When Would You Do a Social Media Check?

A recent survey of HR professionals conducted by EmployeeScreen IQ asked this question:

Does your organization conduct online media searches as a means of screening candidates in the hiring process?

63% of those surveyed said they Do Not use social media searches as part of their employment screening.  Of those that do, only 7% outsource them, while the others do them in-house.

While this may not seem like a significant amount of employers using Social Media Checks, there are still those that use them as part of their hiring process.  And it is important to recognize that there are guidelines that should be followed.

Your best course of action is to wait until after the initial interview to conduct a Social Media Check.  Make sure you obtain a signed release explaining that a background check, including a social media search, is the next step.  

You should treat the social media check the same way you do other aspects of your employment screening.  Your candidate must be given a copy of their rights (their right to a copy of their report and the ability to mitigate or dispute the information found), just like when you run a court record check.

This includes documenting what social media sites were searched, when they were searched, what information was found, and what decision was made concerning employment.  The report should be kept in the candidate’s file. 

You can find out more in Part 1 of my series “Social Media, Background Checks, and Company Policy: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!”.

  • How Can You Do a Social Media Check?

There are definitely best practices when it comes to conducting a Social Media Check.

The number one rule is to Never ask for Passwords!!!  It is best to only search for “Public” content that does not require passwords. You should also not attempt to go in the “back door” by requiring your candidate to “friend” your company, log into their account in front of you, or use another employee to get your applicant’s information.

In fact, many states have laws that govern how you can and cannot use social media in determining employment. 

Find out more about the laws surrounding social media checks here.

When checking the social media profile of an applicant, LinkedIn is the site most frequently used.  Here you can find more legitimately professional information on your applicant.

In addition, general searches using Google, Bing, and other search engines are popular.  Your search also may include sites like Facebook and Twitter.

If you do use a social media search in any way during your hiring process, the information found is covered under the same rules as any other information in a background check.  And it is important to remember that What is Seen, Cannot be Unseen!  

That is why I recommend that you do not do this search yourself or have anyone else in your company do them.  Instead, it is best to have an independent background check company do the research.

#BackgroundCheck #SmallBiz

They know best what information is permitted under FCRA/EEOC guidelines.  This protects you from discovering information that is protected ~ anything pertaining to race, age, sex, religious affiliation, sexual orientation. 

A good background check company will ensure that any social media report you see does not include this protected information.   This can help protect you from charges of discrimination if you decide not to hire your applicant.

In addition, a knowledgable background check company will know and understand any applicable state laws governing the use of social media checks in employment decisions. 

As an employer, having a barrier between you and your possible personal biases and the sensitive information that may be found during a Social Media Check is good business.

This is why I have added a Social Media Check to my Services.  It can help employers legally find the information they need  and job seekers be more prepared for the possibility that their potential new employer may look!

If you do decide to do the social media check internally, make sure to have a dedicated researcher who understands what constitutes protected information.  They should be required to eliminate from your report anything that could get you or your company in hot water.

If you use social media checks as part of your hiring process, or if you even think you might, it is important to develop a sound social media policy.

Your policy needs to state that, as with all other aspects of your background check, you will obtain a signed release from your applicants.  Be sure to include what will be checked and how that information will be used.

Using a Social Media Check can help you develop a better overall picture of your applicants.  You can learn things, both good and bad, that will help you make a better hiring decision.

And that is what an Employment Screening is all about!

Be sure to check out the other 3 articles in this series to find out more about the “Forgotten” screening tools:

Please Pay it Forward and Share this article on your favorite social media sites!  And leave a comment, I would love to hear from you! Thanks!

Authored by  

I can help you navigate the world of hiring in your Small Business. Visit my Website to learn more about me and my company, Access Profiles.  You can also discover the many Services I offer.

Let’s Connect!  Click here to find links to my social sites!  Thanks!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Address History Search ~ A Forgotten Screening Tool Part 3!

#BackgroundCheck #addresshistory #hiring #SmBiz

When it comes to employment background checks, there are certain things that come quickly to mind.  Criminal court record checks, degree verifications, and even confirming past employments are usually part of the package.

However, there are other screening tools that can be just as important.  I call these the “Forgotten Screening Tools”.

Read on.....

Do You Know Why, When, and How You should verify your candidates prior addresses before hiring them for your Small Business?

In part 3 of my series on “Forgotten” Screening Tools, I will take a look at these questions and help you decide whether researching your applicant’s past addresses is good for you and your Small Business!

Verifying that your candidate is who they say they are is an important goal in your hiring process.  Making sure the social security number they provide is valid and belongs to them is often the first step.  

And while a Social Security Number and Address History search often go hand in hand, the benefits of researching where your applicant has lived are not always as apparent as verifying their SSN.

Knowing Every Place Your Applicant has Lived is Vital to a Quality Background Check!  “Tweet This”

  • Why Should You Verify Your Applicant’s Past Addresses?
Knowing your candidate’s address history can provide you with a concrete guideline to other aspects of their background check.  For example, if you know everywhere your applicant has lived, you can match that with their employment and/or education records to see if they match.  

However, the most important benefit is that it can help you select which courts to check during the criminal record search.  It is critical that you look for a criminal history in every county/state where your applicant has lived, worked, or went to school (at least for the past 7 to 10 years). 

Applicants do not always disclose every place that they have ever lived ~ and this is especially true of those that may have something to hide.  That is why having a complete address history independent of what your candidate provides makes sense.

  • When Should You Verify Your Applicant’s Past Addresses?
Research of past addresses should be done on all your applicants.  It is the first step (along with a SSN verification) in building your background checklist and verifying their identity.  

Checking their address history for the past 7 to 10 years is best practice.  That timeframe falls in line with EEOC guidelines on criminal records and will give you a good picture of your applicant’s past. 

Any background check that does not cover every place your candidate has lived or worked is incomplete.  Vital information may be missed that could put your Small Business at risk.

  • How Can You Verify Your Applicant’s Past Addresses?
A Social Security Number Trace is a great way to verify both SSN and past addresses.  This report will list any names and addresses associated with your applicant’s SSN.  

On a smaller scale, you can verify that the SSN provided is valid, where (state) and when (year or approximate year) it was issued, and whether it belongs to a living or deceased person.  While this will not give you a list of past addresses, it will provide a state as a jumping off point for your background check.

Another option requires more leg work.  In many states and counties it is possible to research property records or tax records to find out ownership.  This cannot be done without at least some idea of your candidate’s past addresses.  And this search has no value if your applicant did not own the property but rented instead. 

You can also check social media for mentions of places where your applicant has lived and worked.  But you will still have to verify the validity of this information using other research tools.  

(You will find out more about using Social Media as part of your background check process in Part 4 of this series!).

All these research methods are much easier to accomplish in the hands of a seasoned background check company.  They will be able to access the information more quickly and cost-effectively.

Verifying everywhere that your applicant has resided in the past 7 to 10 years is the best way to begin your employment background check.  First, it gives you the information you need to check the right courts for any relevant criminal records.  And second, it helps validate the information provided by your applicant.

In both cases, it gives another indication of your candidate’s honesty ~ and that helps you make a more informed hiring decision!

Please Pay it Forward and Share this article.  And leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!

Authored by   

For more information and tips on Hiring for Your Small Business, Contact me here!  I would be happy to help you and answer any of your hiring and background check questions!

You will also find links to connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and more!

Check out my About and Services pages to find out more about What I Do and Why! 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Driving Records ~ A Forgotten Screening Tool Part 2!

#DrivingRecords & #BackgroundChecks

When it comes to employment background checks, there are certain things that come quickly to mind.  Criminal court record checks, degree verifications, and even confirming past employments are usually part of the package.

However, there are other screening tools that can be just as important.  I call these the “Forgotten Screening Tools”.

Read on.....

Do You Know Why, When, and How You can check a potential employee’s Driving Records before hiring them for your Small Business?

In part 2 of my series on “Forgotten” Screening Tools, I will take a look at these questions and help you decide whether checking your applicant’s driving history is good for you and your Small Business!

Checking an Applicant’s Driving History is Good for Your Business!  “Tweet This”

Why Should You Check an Applicant’s Driving History:

You may think that a person’s driving history is really not that important when it comes to making your new hire.  And unless you are looking to fill a job where driving is required, it would seem that you are correct.

However, you can learn a lot about your candidate from the information you get in a driving history report.  

A driving record report typically contains:

  • Driver Identifying Information - Name, current address, date of birth, and sometimes their social security number (although you many times need this to access the information).

  •  Class and Status of Driver’s License - Type of license (regular, commercial, etc.) and whether it is a valid license.

  • Record of Violations - tickets, moving violations, accidents, DUIs, insurance coverage lapses (if applicable)

  • History of Suspensions and/or Revocations - Dates that your applicant’s license may have been suspended or revoked along with when or if their license was reinstated.

  • Failure to Appear or Failure to Pay Fines - Not paying fines levied or failing to show up for hearings when summoned are part of a driving record. 

In addition, knowing beforehand if their license is suspended, revoked, or in danger of either can be a very important tool.  Not having a valid license can result in it being harder for them to get to work or, most importantly, not being eligible to drive even if it is part of the job’s requirements.  This is especially vital if the use of a company vehicle is involved.  

Hiring someone that you find out later has a poor driving record can even impact your company’s bottom line.  For example, your insurance rates may increase if you are in any way having your new hire drive as part of their job duties.  Your company liability also increases in the event of an accident while on the job.

#drivingrecords & #employmentscreening

When Should You Check an Applicant’s Driving History:

You should always check the driving record of any potential employee if driving is a part of the job description.  This is true whether driving is their main job duty or even when driving may only be an occasional responsibility.

This driving can include a company vehicle, operating heavy equipment or, in some circumstances, even the employee’s own vehicle.  Any time your employee is driving as a representative of your company, you should be sure to have checked their driving history.

When it comes to other types of jobs, especially ones where no driving is required, employers have traditionally not screened an applicant’s driving records.  However, that is changing.

A driving record can say a lot about a person’s responsibility and reliability.  Excessive or repeated infractions may be a red flag, especially if they are coupled with other information found during the background check.  You can also gain additional information on a potential drug or alcohol problem.

In most cases, having a crystal clean record is not what is important.  Your main goal in checking an applicant’s driving history is to look for major violations that can put your company at risk.  

How Can You Check an Applicant’s Driving History:

When you are checking the driving record of someone other than yourself, the best results come from the state’s department of transportation where your applicant is licensed.

You should secure a signed release from your applicant giving you permission to obtain this information.  This is part of good hiring practices for two reasons.  

One, having a signed release helps ensure the safety of the sensitive information contained in a driving record.  And two, it keeps you compliant with EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines.

Hiring a good background check company can help you navigate these issues and make the process much easier.

To learn more about keeping your Small Business below the EEOC’s radar, check out my tips here!

In short, while a Driving History Search may be a “forgotten” tool for some, many employers use them to hire safely and effectively. You may do well to join the club!

And if you are looking for a job yourself, I suggest you are proactive and find out what is on your driving record before you apply! 

Do You use Driving History Reports in your hiring process?  I would love to hear your thoughts on Why or Why Not!  

If you missed Part 1 in this series on Why, When, and How you can use Civil Court Records when you hire, then check it out here!

And Please Help Pay it Forward and Share my article.  Thanks!

#backgroundcheck & #hiringtips

Authored by   

Interested in tweaking your Hiring Process?  I can help You make sure you are compliant and cost effective.  Contact me here and we can chat!  

You will also find links to connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and more about the Services I offer that are designed to help You and Your Small Business!