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In the Know: December 2021 Compliance Clips

CONSUMER REPORTING

PBSA Reports Positive Progress Regarding Michigan Date of Birth Redaction
As previously shared, a new Michigan rule, scheduled to go into effect by January 1, 2022, would remove date of birth (DOB) from public facing records.

The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA)—an important, non-profit organization established to represent the interest of companies offering employment background screening services—along with many industry allies, have been actively advocating to retain the DOB within Michigan court records as a critical identifier in accurate, comprehensive background screening.

A recent PBSA Advisory reports that the Michigan Supreme Court has officially adopted a negotiated court rule on Michigan redaction on Monday, December 6th, 2021.

Key elements of the rule are:

  1. Definition of what constitutes “consent” for purposes of background screening.
  2. Outlining a registration process for Michigan members as well as requirements for proof of liability insurance. This proposed registration would need to be verified every 6 months.
  3. Moving the effective date of these new procedures from January 1, 2022, to April 1, 2022.
  4. There is a public comment period in the new rule which will close on April 1, 2022.

The adopted rule addresses complaints about the original proposed rule (ADM File No. 2020-26), which would have barred the display of DOB in court records throughout Michigan. We will continue to monitor developments on this issue up to April 1, 2022, and keep you updated as more information becomes available.

CFPB Advisory Opinion on Name Only Matching
On November 4, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an advisory opinion, stating that a consumer reporting agency (CRA) engaging in name-only matching violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s (FCRA) reasonable procedures requirement, 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b). This opinion regarding the production of consumer reports stresses the importance of ensuring accuracy in the process. Specifically, that matching on name only very likely leads to report inaccuracies because thousands of consumers share first and last name combinations. These inaccuracies, as stated in the opinion, could also put Hispanic, Asian, and Black consumers at greater potential risk for inaccuracy due to lesser last name diversity among these populations. Here at A-Check Global, we take note of these positions and strive to maintain compliant, accurate policies that mitigate risk during the background screening process.
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I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now December 31, 2021.

UPDATE: On Monday, October 25, 2021, the DHS announced they are seeking public feedback on the possibility of making the remote document verification option for Form I-9 permanent. This is welcome news as many trend toward permanent hybrid work solutions, and is encouraging that the government is closely following workplace trends and is willing to take a look at updating the Form I-9 process. We will keep a close eye on this and let you know as more becomes available.
READ MORE

CRIMINAL HISTORY REPORTING

California’s Fair Chance Act and Job Advertising
The Fair Chance Act—known commonly as California’s Ban the Box law—restricts employers with 5 or more employees from requesting criminal conviction history from job applicants (in advertising, applications, or during a job interview) prior to a conditional employment offer.

Recently, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing has promoted enforcement of the Fair Chance Act by introducing tech efforts to correct violations in online job postings. Put simply, mass searches through online job listings identify prohibited statements such as those prohibiting employment to anyone with a criminal conviction history. In just one day, they found 500+ job advertisement violations!
READ MORE

University of Michigan
The University of Michigan removed questions asking applicants about criminal history from the application process. Inquiries are now part of the pre-employment background screening conducted after a contingent job offer. While answering “yes” to criminal history questions on a job application did not automatically disqualify previous applicants, the question in and of itself likely deterred qualified applicants from applying.
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SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

New York
The New York State Department of Labor recently issued guidance to address questions regarding recreational cannabis use by employees in and outside of the workplace. This guidance is intended to provide details regarding common scenarios and questions regarding adult-use cannabis and the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). In short, New York labor law states that cannabis used in accordance with New York state law is legal—and as such, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on the employee’s use of cannabis outside of the workplace, outside of work hours, and without use of the employer’s equipment or property. That said, there are employer actions permitted, such as when an employee, while working, manifests specific symptoms that impair performance or interfere with workplace safety. Time for employers to review policies and practices to ensure compliance.
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DATA PRIVACY

Nationwide
As more U.S. states—and even the federal government—consider privacy law, notable trends may continue to influence legislation: concern for targeted advertising, further definition for sensitive information, even how GDPR can continue as a key model for lawmaking. Recently, U.S. Representatives have submitted the “Control Our Data Act” privacy bill, which looks to have provisions very much like GDPR—required notice, consumer right to delete information, retention limits, information security measures, and more.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

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A-Check Global update: Serving our clients through the pandemic, worldwide labor shortages, and more.

While ongoing, challenges due to COVID-19, natural disasters, and workplace staffing issues make this a difficult time for many companies to perform at full capacity, we wanted to provide a quick update regarding A-Check efforts to further improve client support and background screen turnaround time.

As we slowly transition out of the pandemic, our valued clients have continued to hire, and as your screening partner, A-Check has remained committed to ensuring your needs are met. Our primary goal is to serve you to the best of our ability, and we humbly acknowledge that A-Check has experienced delays in processing time. That said, we are working daily to overcome these issues, and we truly appreciate the continued trust you have put in our partnership now and in the future.

Drug Testing

A-Check is working closely with our nationwide laboratory partners to further improve client support:

  • Additional software technology has enhanced our connection with labs, and is now greatly accelerating the turnaround and file closure time for “negative” drug testing results.
  • Lab updates within applicant files on A-Check Direct (ACD) now provide far greater transparency to both A-Check and clients—including collection status, specimen in transit, specimen in process, and more.
  • And coming soon—A-Check is implementing the ability within ACD for clients to self-schedule applicant drug testing (and appointment extensions) within seconds.

While our partner laboratories and specimen collection centers are operational, delays can occur in large part due to a significant increase in both new testing requests (as a result of new hiring) and applicant appointment rescheduling. And, due to high volume, labs are experiencing temporary processing delays of up to a week or more when performing follow-up specimen testing. For negative testing results, normal turnaround time remains 24-48 hours.

To combat these issues, labs are currently hiring and training lab employees for additional processing shifts. Likewise, investments in testing technology is allowing for increased specimen processing volume and should help improve overall turnaround time.

Verification

Due to ongoing, global school and company closures, A-Check continues to experience a heavy backlog of verification requests.

Please keep in mind that while we may be emerging slowly from the pandemic, the impact is still very real. Schools are not fully re-opened, and as a result, third party online services for education are delayed because they are dependent on school support.

Many employers are still remote, understaffed, or even worse, have sadly closed forever. In many cases, verification now often includes reaching out for documentation or additional research.

Criminal Records

A-Check is working with a number of partner vendors to further streamline our processing and client support:

  • We are further automating database searches to not only accommodate the current increase in client requests, but also significantly reduce turnaround and file closure time for record searches.
  • We are updating vendor integrations to take advantage of process efficiencies and advancements in data security.

Please keep in mind, A-Check Global continues to focus on and participate in continued efforts surrounding new Michigan and California legislation removing the date of birth (DOB) from public facing court records. This legislation has already begun to hinder the background screening industry’s ability to serve, and we predict that it will be some time yet before viable solutions are in place.

In spite of research challenges we face in Michigan and counties within California, we will continue to serve our valued clients to the best of our ability.

A-Check and Labor Shortages

Hiring and retaining top talent is always a priority at A-Check. While our goal is to implement technology and process efficiency to meet your needs, it’s equally important that we are here to answer your calls with personal service.

  • We are expanding our recruiter footprint beyond California to other U.S. states for administration, infrastructure, and client support positions.
  • Our recruiters are connecting with organizations like military groups and others to attract top talent. We are also working to promote A-Check to those who are skilled but underemployed in our communities.
  • Attractive referral programs (friends and family) are available to our employees.
  • Our staffing efforts are concentrated on employee engagement, efficiencies in onboarding, and increased mentoring during the first 90 days to improve overall employee retention.
  • And last but not least, we are focused on enhancing process automation and further integrating with our many data providers.

That said, even with delays we might experience, A-Check is here to help your business succeed. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Featured

In the Know: November 2021 Compliance Clips

I-9 Compliance

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been extending the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19.

Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now December 31, 2021.

UPDATE: On Monday, October 25, 2021, the DHS announced they are seeking public feedback on the possibility of making the remote document verification option for Form I-9 permanent. This is welcome news as many trend toward permanent hybrid work solutions, and is encouraging that the government is closely following workplace trends and is willing to take a look at updating the Form I-9 process. We will keep a close eye on this and let you know as more becomes available.
READ MORE

Substance Abuse Testing

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania lawmakers are joining forces to assemble bipartisan legislation proposals for marijuana legalization. In a legislation memo, it was stated that, “Enforcing and continuing to enforce drug laws prohibiting possession of small amounts of cannabis, we are clogging our court dockets, overcrowding our prisons, and holding down individuals and communities in most need of support, opportunity, and investment.”
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

Criminal History Reporting

Orange County, Florida
Beginning October 2021, job applicants with Orange County, Florida government are no longer asked on initial job applications if they have criminal convictions or criminal history. Officials hope this change will provide greater employment access for those with a criminal record and provide opportunity for residents in underrepresented communities.
READ MORE

Data Privacy

Nationwide
As more U.S. states consider privacy laws, notable trends may continue to influence legislation: concern for targeted advertising, further definition for sensitive information, even how GDPR can continue as a key model for lawmaking. The recently passed privacy laws in California, Colorado, and Virginia differ significantly, notable trends from these privacy laws are likely to influence legislation in other states.
READ MORE

Featured

Ban the Box: 20+ Years of Fair Chance Legislation

It all began more than 20 years ago, when Hawaii became the first state to officially pass Ban the Box legislation—law designed to provide those with criminal history a better chance of earning employment without having their misdeeds prevent access to job opportunities.

From its humble beginning as a grassroots, civil rights movement borne of All of Us or None, evolving legislation to provide applicants with fair chance quickly gained momentum nationwide. As law is generally applied today, Ban the Box prohibits certain employers from making criminal history inquiries until a later point during the application and employment process. Ban the Box laws typically:

  • Restricts employer inquiries prior to an applicant’s job interview or even a conditional offer of employment
  • Sets guidelines for how far in the past criminal history may be requested
  • Prevents job position ads from excluding applicants with criminal history

Legislation Today

20+ years later, this growing legal trend to lower barriers faced by job applicants with criminal records has progressed past the removal of an application’s “box,” to now include additional procedures designed to force employers to look past an applicant’s criminal history when making a hiring decision.  Additional requirements are unique to jurisdictional law, but most share a common theme:

  • Remove the check box from the application
  • Wait until further along in the hiring process to ask an applicant if they have a criminal history (this includes requesting a background check), for example, post interview or post offer
  • When making an adverse decision based on an applicant’s past criminal record, provide the applicant with specific details on what part of their background check caused the adverse decision, the business necessity for the decision, and in some cases, your company’s policy regarding the hiring of applicants with a criminal history

37 states, the District of Columbia, and over 150 cities and counties have adopted Ban the Box

With representation across nearly every portion of the country, 37 states now include guidelines for public-sector employment. These states include:

Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Further, extending fair chance law beyond government employment to private-sector employment helps ensure applicants with criminal records have a fair chance at employment across the majority of jobs. To date, fifteen states and 22 cities and counties have passed legislation to remove criminal history questions from job applications for private employers. States include:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Putting this all into perspective, it means that more than 267 million people—that’s more than four-fifths of the U.S. population—now lives in a jurisdiction with some form of fair chance law or policy.

Ban the Box and Your Employment Background Screening Program

Now, keep in mind that this evolving legislation regarding fair chance hiring does not prohibit your organization from performing criminal checks as part of your employment risk mitigation. It simply means that criminal history inquiries must be delayed until further in the hiring workflow. And, in addition to removing the “box” from employment applications, employers may be required to ask about criminal history either after an interview is completed, or after a conditional offer has been made.

As an HR professional, there’s a lot to consider (or continue to consider) as you navigate applicable Ban the Box legislation:

  • Audit your workflow. That will mean meeting regularly with your legal counsel to ensure your employment applications, related forms, and your overall hiring program is compliant.
  • While you’re at it, keep your legal counsel on speed-dial to ensure you’re updated with changes in legislation and fair chance policy. If you live in a state that isn’t impacted by Ban the Box law, it may not always be the case.
  • Take a look at job roles in your organization to further define where certain criminal history would pose increased risk among certain positions or your workplace as a whole. Likewise, there may be minimal risk opportunity within areas of your organization to extend employment to ex-offenders. This may be a good time to audit position definitions.
  • And finally, make sure you’re partnered with an employment background screening company (like A-Check Global) with updated compliance resources to help you navigate fair chance legislation and assist you in extending equal hiring practices to your applicants.

Please keep in mind that this Blog article is general in nature, and not all-inclusive in listing jurisdictions with Ban the Box law. Here is a complete listing of U.S. Cities, Counties, and States Adopting Fair-Chance Policies.

Please also note that A-Check provides a monthly compliance newsletter to keep you in the know with Ban the Box and other legislation updates, and we’d welcome the opportunity to add you to the mailing list. Simply email us at marketing@acheckglobal.com and let us know you’d like our compliance updates.

And, as always, we welcome your questions about this or any aspect of your background screening program. Please feel free to contact us.

Featured

PBSA Testifies in Michigan Hearing on Date of Birth Redaction

A-Check Global continues to focus on and participate in continued efforts surrounding new Michigan legislation removing the date of birth (DOB) from public facing court records. As previously shared, this new rule is scheduled to go into effect by January 1, 2022. However, some courts have already been implementing DOB redactions as earlier adopters of the rule.

The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA)—an important, non-profit organization established to represent the interest of companies offering employment background screening services—has been actively advocating to retain the DOB within Michigan court records as a critical identifier in accurate, comprehensive background screening.

On Wednesday, October 13, the Michigan House Judiciary Committee held a hearing regarding Michigan House Bill 5368 (Requirement for date of birth to be included in publicly accessible “personal identifying information” in court proceedings.) In this hearing, PBSA past chair Bon Idziak testified on behalf of PBSA as part of persistent efforts to ensure access to date of birth information in public records in Michigan. Others testifying included Lucia Bone on behalf of the Sue Weaver CAUSE, Jay Harris on behalf of CDIA, as well as several other proponents of the legislation.

PBSA will continue to pursue all available options to address current and upcoming redaction in both Michigan and California. A-Check will continue to provide information and requests for assistance as it becomes available. As you might imagine, these efforts are significant, and will require continued engagement.

Please also note that A-Check has not changed our standard processes for criminal record searches. Prior to presenting permissible results to our clients, we still require 3 identifiers to authenticate the identity of search information. In spite of research challenges we face in Michigan and counties within California, we will continue to serve our valued clients to the best of our ability.

We’re here to help answer any questions you may have.

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In the Know: October 2021 Compliance Updates

Consumer Reporting

District Court’s FCRA Decision:
Employer Guidance for “Clear and Conspicuous” Disclosure
As you know, before an employer pulls a consumer report for employment background screening purposes, the FCRA requires that the employer provides the applicant with a “clear and conspicuous” disclosure that the employer may obtain this report.

Furthermore, the disclosure document must consist solely of the disclosure. A recent Ninth Circuit Court ruling detailed that even with good will and intention, this disclosure must not include extraneous information—even if the employer believes that information is related to the disclosure.

The court did hold that disclosure may also include some concise explanation of what a consumer report is, how it will be obtained, and the type of employment purposes for which it may be used. However, additional information regarding consumer rights under federal and state law—additional information added in this instance by the employer to the disclosure—was extraneous. This case illustrates just how important strict compliance with the FCRA’s standalone requirement really is.
READ MORE

California and Michigan Date of Birth Redaction
As we’ve mentioned, efforts in Michigan and a number of California counties to redact date of birth from court cases reported via public indexes make timely employment background screening extremely challenging.

For California: 
A California Court of Appeal decision has unfortunately resulted in CA Courts restricting or limiting in-person research requests, and limiting PII provided for potential record matches. These efforts are being implemented with little notice, and as you can imagine, are having a profound impact in the ability for consumer reporting agencies to efficiently report criminal history.

For Michigan: 
Court rules in Michigan that limit PII provided to researchers are in effect. However, implementation has been delayed until January 2022.

A-Check Global, along with other CRAs, are very involved in working toward any and all potential opportunities for resolution. That said, answers may not be available in the near future. The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) Government Relations Date-of-Birth Redaction Task Force is also focused on resolution efforts, and they invite employers to learn about how to support the path toward solutions.
READ MORE

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 Compliance

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now December 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

Substance Abuse Testing

Rhode Island
Could Rhode Island be next? Lawmakers say they are very close to reaching a deal on a marijuana legalization bill that could be taken up during a special session this fall. A-Check will keep an eye out and let you know.
READ MORE

Connecticut
The Connecticut Governor signed Senate Bill 1201—effective in 2022—making CT the 19th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older, but will allow employers to continue implementing drug-free employment policies. This new law will require expungement of certain existing marijuana convictions, but also creates employment protections for recreational marijuana users. That said, employers are permitted to continue prohibiting employees from engaging in the recreational use of marijuana, subject to certain statutory requirements.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team. 

Criminal History Reporting

Maine
Governor Mills signed into law LD 1167, “An Act Relating to Fair Chance in Employment.” With this new Legislation, Maine joins a growing number of states in adopting a “ban-the-box” law that restricts employers’ ability to ask job applicants about their criminal history. While there are exceptions, new law prohibits employers from requesting criminal history information on applications or stating that a person with a criminal history may not apply or will not be considered for a position. Employers are also prohibited from stating—prior to determining a person’s qualifications—that candidates with criminal history will not be considered. This new law goes into effect on October 18, 2021, and employers who do not comply with the new law are subject to a penalty of $100-$500 per violation.
READ MORE

Data Privacy

Ohio
California, Colorado, and Virginia have passed comprehensive consumer data privacy laws. Additional legislation was recently introduced that, if passed, would create the Ohio Personal Privacy Act. By introducing the Act, Ohio follows the growing trend toward stronger state privacy laws related to consumer rights. The Act primarily applies to businesses in Ohio or businesses that collect data about consumers in Ohio, and among other guidelines, dictates that businesses must provide a “reasonably accessible, clear, and conspicuously posted privacy policy” to inform consumers about the data collected.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

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UPDATE: Court of Appeal Ruling will Continue Delays for CA Criminal Background Checks

As you likely know, courts across a number of California counties are now redacting date of birth from court cases reported via public indexes (online and public access terminals). Additionally—as we are now seeing in Los Angeles County—court clerks are facing restrictions against providing assistance to verify full dates of birth during criminal record checks. This negatively impacts a court researcher’s ability to quickly and accurately verify name/case matches—resulting in A-Check clients experiencing significant delays in county court searches throughout the state of California.

So, why the delay? In May, 2021, a case decision in All of Us or None vs. Hamrick provided direction for the removal of critical personal information—date of birth and/or driver license number—from public facing criminal court records. This case alleged that Riverside County allowed users of the Riverside Superior Court’s public website to search for criminal records by inputting a defendant’s date of birth, directly compromising the privacy of those involved in criminal proceedings. While this lawsuit was brought only against the Riverside Superior Court, it ultimately impacted most California state courts.

In September 2021, the California Supreme Court denied review in the matter, allowing—for now—the continuation of this information redaction. This denial by the California Supreme Court means that criminal record checks in California will continue to become more difficult, and in some cases impossible.

At A-Check Global, we know and understand this is extremely challenging for our valued clients. We will continue to work toward any and all potential opportunities for resolution—while also having full awareness that a solution may not be available in the near future. Furthermore, we anticipate that while this is limited to a select number of California counties, it is likely additional counties will adopt similar action.

We will continue to serve our clients by taking all possible steps to accurately match candidates to criminal records. For now, files with a possible match (as a combination of name and year or month/year of birth) will be noted with an extended turnaround time (TAT) and A-Check will continue to serve you to the best of our ability.

Additionally, there is activity within the background screening industry to find a viable solution to this situation. The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) Government Relations Date-of-Birth Redaction Task Force is currently executing two potential alternative paths to resolution:

  1. Work with the California Judicial Council to modify the rule.
  2. Create a legislative campaign to introduce statutory changes that requires the Judicial Council to modify the rule.

We’re here to help answer any questions you may have. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Compliance Clips for September 2021

Checklist of FCRA Requirements
We’ve included this information before, but it’s worth a repeat visit. When an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a short checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check.
  • If adverse action is taken upon final decision, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 COMPLIANCE

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now December 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Connecticut
The Connecticut Governor signed Senate Bill 1201—effective in 2022—making CT the 19th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older, but will allow employers to continue implementing drug-free employment policies. This new law will require expungement of certain existing marijuana convictions, but also creates employment protections for recreational marijuana users. That said, employers are permitted to continue prohibiting employees from engaging in the recreational use of marijuana, subject to certain statutory requirements.
READ MORE

California
A U.S. District Court in California held that an employer can condition an offer of employment on passing pre-employment drug screening, including a test for marijuana. In this case, a new employee was terminated for a positive marijuana test. The judge ruled that the employee failed to establish he suffered from a disability given the lack of detail or documentation submitted to the employer—and the employer had established a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employee’s termination.
READ MORE

New Jersey
New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission released regulations on August 19, governing recreational cannabis use. However, these rules do not yet include standards for employers prior to conducting marijuana drug testing. Marijuana was legalized for recreational purposes in New Jersey in February 2021, including certain protections with regard to off-duty use by employees. Legislation now imposes a new requirement that work-related marijuana testing include a physical examination conducted by an expert—a Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert (“WIRE”)—trained to recognize drug impairment. That said, the Commission did not indicate how long it will take to develop the certification standards or when employers can expect regulations addressing marijuana testing.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

CRIMINAL HISTORY REPORTING

Louisiana
Effective August 1, 2021, Act No. 406 impacts employers conducting background screening prior to a job offer by prohibiting the request or consideration of an arrest record or charge that did not result in a conviction when a background check reveals that information. This legislation also requires employers to individually assess a candidate’s criminal history and determine if the outcome is directly or adversely related to specific duties of potential employment.
READ MORE

Maine
Taking effect October 18, 2021, Maine joins the growing number of states with new Ban the Box legislation to prohibit employers from requesting criminal history information on initial employment applications. While there are exceptions, new law prohibits employers from requesting criminal history information on applications or stating that a person with a criminal history may not apply or will not be considered for a position. Employers are also prohibited from stating—prior to determining a person’s qualifications—that candidates with criminal history will not be considered.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

Compliance Clips for August 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

FCRA Requirements
As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is taking precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now August 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

CRIMINAL HISTORY REPORTING

Louisiana
Effective August 1, 2021, Act No. 406 impacts employers conducting background screening prior to a job offer by prohibiting the request or consideration of an arrest record or charge that did not result in a conviction when a background check reveals that information. This legislation also requires employers to individually assess a candidate’s criminal history and determine if the outcome is directly or adversely related to specific duties of potential employment.
READ MORE

Criminal Record Screening Policy Review
Now more than ever before, it’s important for employers to review their criminal record screening policies. It’s a balance between compliance with evolving laws, and risk mitigation in hiring practices. Class action plaintiffs’ attorneys have had some high-profile success negotiating settlements, and Ban the Box legislation continues momentum in a growing number of states. Now, when it comes to litigation against background screening efforts, courts can hold that employers are required to prove their criminal record screening policies are not just appropriate as a business necessity, but also prove that these policies accurately distinguish between applicants that do and do not pose an unacceptable level of risk. While we are here to answer any questions you may have, we also strongly recommend you have legal counsel available to guide your screening program decisions.
READ MORE

New York City
Effective July 29, 2021, New York City’s Fair Chance Act expands the scope of protection for applicants and employees with criminal histories. The FCA prohibits employers from denying employment based on an arrest or criminal accusation by expanding protection to prohibit any inquiry in writing or otherwise about a candidate’s arrest or criminal accusation. These amendments also offer additional candidate protection by expanding the list of information that employers are prohibited from considering, adding additional processes employers must take when presented with certain criminal information, and further clarifying other employer obligations under the Fair Chance Process. Here’s a great read on these amendments.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Connecticut
The Connecticut Governor signed Senate Bill 1201—effective in 2022—making CT the 19th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older, but will allow employers to continue implementing drug-free employment policies.  This new law will require expungement of certain existing marijuana convictions, but also creates employment protections for recreational marijuana users. That said, employers are permitted to continue prohibiting employees from engaging in the recreational use of marijuana, subject to certain statutory requirements.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us.

DATA PRIVACY

Colorado
Colorado is the second state this year to pass a law making it easier for consumers to protect personal data online. Colorado’s Privacy Act follows Virginia’s Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Among other things, Colorado’s legislation gives consumers the right to opt-out of targeted advertising and the sale of personal data. It also gives consumers the right to access, correct, and delete personal data collected, provides the right to obtain a copy of personal data in a portable format. Additionally, Colorado’s Act requires that consumers have the ability to opt-out via a universal channel that meets established technical specifications.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

Client Update: Some CA Counties Removing Date of Birth from Public Court Case Indexes

Los Angeles County UPDATE: July 26, 2021 (see below)

A-Check is following recent news that a number of California counties are removing (or have already removed) the DOB from public court case indexes, in response to a legal decision against the Riverside Superior Court where the judge ruled that court records are improperly maintained.

As a result, public facing court research within impacted counties is “name match only,” “name and YOB only” and in some counties the public access option has been removed altogether, forcing researchers to rely on clerks for searches which could previously be performed online.  Consumer Reporting Agencies like A-Check are required to perform additional research to further confirm and validate cases. As you might guess, this causes increased or indefinite delay in completing criminal record searches because A-Check requires 3 identifiers to authenticate the identity of search information.

In light of these developments—and as additional counties may begin to follow this direction—A-Check will work closely with courts as we continue to serve all clients to the best of our ability.

IMPACTED COUNTIES

Fresno
, Kern – Search conducted by name only. All name matches require clerk assistance, and delays expected (and noted within candidate files) for search results.

Riverside – Search conducted by name only. All name matches require clerk assistance, and delays expected (and noted within candidate files) for search results.

Ventura – Ability to search by name online has been altogether removed from the online index. This county is now fully clerk assisted, and researchers are currently restricted from courts. We are reaching out daily to determine how they intend to assist with the data, and delays are noted within candidate files for search results.

ADDITIONAL IMPACTED COUNTIES (Now or in the near future)

Santa Clara
Tulare
Yuba
San Bernardino

UPDATE:

The Los Angeles Public Access site now restricts research filtering by name and year of birth only. A-Check researchers will need to verify DOB first to confirm a full name/DOB birth match before requesting court documents. As you might imagine, clerks already have severe COVID-19 restrictions regarding public contact. They will now be managing DOB verification requests in additional to existing workloads. Files with a possible match will be noted with an extended TAT and A-Check will continue to adjust as we refine our process with clerks in this high-volume county.

If you have any questions about this information, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here and always happy to help.

Featured

Compliance Clips for July 2021

I-9 COMPLIANCE

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now August 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Alabama
Governor Kay Ivey recently signed Alabama’s medical marijuana law, making Alabama the 37th state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. That said, employers are still permitted to establish drug testing and drug-free workplace policies. This new law identifies qualifying medical conditions, including but not limited to autism spectrum disorder (ASD); cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; depression; epilepsy or a condition causing seizures; and HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss. With recently granted access to medical marijuana, this law will not impose new obligations on employers.
READ MORE

Montana
Montana has legalized marijuana for recreational use, and employers will be prohibited from taking adverse action against employees for lawful use of marijuana outside of work. New law amends the Montana definition of “lawful products” to now include marijuana. That said, employers can continue drug-free workplace policies.
READ MORE

Philadelphia
The city of Philadelphia recently passed an ordinance prohibiting employers from requiring candidates to submit to pre-employment marijuana testing as a condition of employment, effective January 1, 2022. However, this ordinance does not prohibit pre-employment testing of certain types of employees, including police and other law enforcement positions, any position requiring a commercial driver’s license, and any position that requires the supervision or care of children, medical patients, disabled people, and other vulnerable persons.
READ MORE

SALARY DISCLOSURE

Connecticut
On June 7, Connecticut’s Governor signed House Bill Number 6380, requiring employers to disclose to applicants and employees the salary ranges for positions. This law also expands prohibition of gender-based pay discrimination. Under this new law, employers are prohibited from failing or refusing to provide the wage range for a position upon an applicant’s request, or for an employee’s position upon the employee’s request. Employers are recommended to consider implementing policies and practices to comply with the new law by its October 1, 2021 effective date.
READ MORE

DATA PRIVACY

Colorado
Colorado has become the third state in the country to pass a comprehensive data privacy law, joining California and Virginia. The Colorado Privacy Act (CPA) will be effective on July 1, 2023. Similar in nature to California and Virginia privacy laws, the CPA provides extended privacy rights to Colorado consumers: (1) the right to opt out of certain processing of personal data; (2) the right to access personal data; (3) the right to correct inaccurate personal data; (4) the right to delete personal data; and (5) the right to data portability. And, it imposes greater duties on the controllers and processors of those organizations collecting personal data.
READ MORE

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania introduced HB-1126, the Consumer Data Privacy Act (CDPA), creating duty for businesses to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices surrounding the protection of consumer information. And, under the CDPA’s private right of action, consumers may obtain statutory damages of not less than $100 but not more than $750 per consumer per incident, actual damages, and injunctive or declaratory relief.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

UPDATE: Michigan Supreme Court Issues Order to Delay PII Redaction Rule

A-Check Global has been keeping a close eye on recent Michigan legislation that proposed removing the date of birth (DOB) and other certain identifiers—Social Security and Driver’s License Numbers, for example—from court records. Initially, Michigan was moving forward with a July 1, 2021 effective date for this rule. However, today the Michigan Supreme Court issued an order that delays implementation of this rule, and the implementation date has been changed from July 1, 2021 until January 1, 2022.

How would PII redaction impact A-Check criminal record searches in Michigan?

A-Check has not changed our standard processes for criminal record searches. Prior to presenting permissible results to our clients, we still require 3 identifiers to authenticate the identity of search information. If and when Michigan implements a redaction rule, A-Check will continue to serve our clients to the best of our ability.

We’re here to help answer any questions you may have.

Featured

In 2020, Marijuana Drug Testing Positivity Continued to Increase Among U.S. Workers

Quest Diagnostics—A-Check’s drug screening partner and a leading provider of diagnostic services—released their 2020 Drug Testing Index. It is thought to be the first large-scale national analysis of U.S. workforce drug testing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes findings from more than 9 million drug tests performed throughout 2020.

In general, the reported positivity for most drug categories—with the exception of marijuana—remained fairly flat, or somewhat declined, in the combined U.S. workforce. Overall, it was down slightly in 2020 (at 4.4%) compared to 2019 (4.5%). Throughout the safety-sensitive, federally mandated U.S. workforce (based on more than 2 million drug tests), positive drug test results declined from 2.4% in 2019 to 2.2% in 2020.

While COVID-19 altered the workforce landscape last year, the increasing positivity trend in marijuana testing continued, in part due to state-by-state legislation regarding adult medical or recreational use legalization. In the U.S. general workforce, marijuana positivity increased in urine testing (3.1% in 2019 versus 3.6% in 2020), in oral fluid testing (9.1% in 2019 versus 12.3% in 2020) and in hair testing (7.1% in 2019 versus 8.7% in 2020). Worth noting, especially as many companies are now initiating plans to return employees to the office. It’s important for employers to continue considering workforce drug testing as a key effort in maintaining workplace and employee safety.

Here are just a few findings from Quest:

  • While positivity is down for most drug categories, it increased very slightly for ecstasy—an increase from 0.008% in 2019 to 0.010% in 2020. Still, this represents a very low positivity number of 1 in every 10,000 tests overall.
  • Positivity rates declined in federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce testing categories. Cocaine declined to 0.25% positivity in 2019 versus 0.20% in 2020. Opiates represent a similar positivity decline from 0.26% in 2019 to 0.21% in 2020. In this category, positivity for marijuana did decline very slightly (0.88% in 2019 versus 0.79% in 2020).
  • Marijuana continued increases in the general U.S. workforce, with lower positivity rates in states with only medical marijuana use or no form of legalized marijuana use versus states with legalized recreational statutes.
  • The marijuana positivity rate of post-accident test results grew faster than the rate for pre-employment testing. In 2012 (when the first state legalized marijuana), Pre-employment marijuana positivity was 1.9% and post-accident positivity as 2.4%. Fast forward to 2020, pre-employment marijuana positivity reached 3.7% while post-accident positivity surged to 6.4%.
  • Cocaine positivity was the lowest since 2012 in the general U.S. workforce, falling to 0.22% in 2020 versus 0.27% in 2019.
  • Workforce positivity increased significantly in multiple industries with the Retail Trade sector continuing to top the list. For example, the Accommodations and Food Service category had the highest workforce positivity for marijuana at 6.3%.
  • More Quest insight can be found online within their 2020 Drug Testing Index.

Let’s work together for the continued safety of your workplace

Based on the potential for drug abuse due to ongoing COVID uncertainty, as well as personal and professional life stress, it stands to reason that you continue your company’s focus on workplace safety, as well as all employee health concerns.

Whether you are maintaining a remote workforce well into the future, have begun bringing employees back into the office, or are implementing a business plan that builds on a hybrid workforce (as so many now are choosing to do), screening your employees for substance abuse can greatly help ensure you’re doing all you can to promote a safe workplace and healthy, productive team members.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your options, what you currently might have in place, or to help you build an effective, compliant drug screening program for your company. We’re here to help, and as always, truly appreciate your call and your business.

Featured

Compliance Clips for June 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

Fair Credit Reporting Act – Permissible Purpose
We always like to pass along good articles we find as reminders of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and requirements regarding how your FCRA Policy should reflect permissible purpose for obtaining and using a candidate’s personal information. This quick read is a good refresher on obtaining consumer report information, subject to the following permissible purposes:

  • in accordance with a consumer’s written instructions
  • for employment purposes
  • for underwriting insurance
  • in connection with the extension of credit to, or the review or collection of an account of, the consumer
  • for a legitimate business purpose in connection with a transaction initiated by a consumer
  • for making pre-screened firm offers of credit or insurance

READ MORE

And Even More about FCRA Requirements
As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check.
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is taking precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now August 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

BAN THE BOX

Arizona
While Arizona won’t allow job and occupational license seekers to receive expungement of convictions from record, a new law does allow certain convictions to be set aside through a Certificate of Second Chance. The Arizona Governor signed House Bill 2067 into law, which will take effect August 27, 2021, benefiting ex-offenders by allowing them to seek to set aside certain felony and misdemeanor convictions specifically to increase greater employment and housing opportunities. Crimes excluded from being set aside include but are not limited to: 1) driving on a suspended license; 2) criminal speeding, felony flight, aggressive driving, and hit and run; 3) convictions involving a deadly weapon, or convictions involving infliction of serious physical injury; 4) convictions requiring the individual to register as a sexual offender or for offender monitoring; 5) sexual motivation convictions; and 6) convictions involving victims under age 15.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Alabama
On May 17, the Governor signed Alabama’s medical marijuana law, making Alabama the 37th state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Alabama employers are still permitted to establish drug testing, drug-free workplace policies. The law identifies specific qualifying medical conditions, including but not limited to autism spectrum disorder (ASD); cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; depression; epilepsy or a condition causing seizures; and HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss. While the law grants access to medical marijuana, it will not impose new obligations on employers.
READ MORE

Quest Diagnostics 2020 Drug Testing Index
With 9 million+ drug tests in 2020, Quest Diagnostics releases its latest Drug Testing Index, with insight across a range of drugs and workplace industries. Marijuana testing continues positivity increases in the general U.S. workforce. Some additional key findings from the latest Drug Testing Index include:

  • Positivity down or flat for most drug categories, but increased for ecstasy
  • Positivity rates declined in federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce testing categories
  • Marijuana continued double-digit year-over-year increases in the general U.S. workforce, with lower positivity rates in states with only medical marijuana use or no form of legalized marijuana use versus states with legalized recreational statutes
  • The marijuana positivity rate of post-accident test results grew faster than the rate for pre-employment testing
  • Cocaine positivity lowest since 2012 in the general U.S. workforce
  • Workforce positivity increased significantly in multiple industries with the Retail Trade sector continuing to top the list
    READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

COVID-19

COVID-19 Rapid Infection At-Home Collection
Although Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dramatically impacted the business landscape worldwide, it is also encouraging to now see employers focused on safely and gradually welcoming their workforces back to the office. Depending on your company’s return to office policies, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing COVID-19 testing and surveillance solutions through A-Check’s medical partner networks. Through A-Check’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we offer an at-home collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.
READ MORE

Questions?
We’re here to help!

Featured

The Name Game: FAQs about AKAs

Among the many critical elements of a comprehensive background check is the determination of different names an applicant has used in the past. Because background screening relies on database research—and the single largest criteria used during a search is name—it’s critical to establish an Also Known As (AKA) history for each applicant.

An AKA can typically be a result of marriage, but an individual may also choose to change their name altogether, or might use a shortened version of their legal name. We often get questions about candidate AKAs and how these names are processed at A-Check during a background screen, and wanted to take just a few moments to share some of those with you in this entry.

How does A-Check Global locate AKA’s?
The Three Credit Bureaus are typical sources of information used to discover existence of an applicant’s AKAs. A credit report or credit report header—known as an ID Report or Social Security Trace—provide additional AKAs that an individual may have used in their past. As a side note, querying this Credit Bureau information has no impact on a person’s credit score.

Why are AKAs important to A-Check’s background screening process?
An AKA can be utilized to locate information that might not ordinarily be located using conventional name searches, for example:
A college degree obtained under a maiden name
A criminal record filed under a secondary or maiden name
A Driver’s License issued prior to marriage
A record of employment indexed under the applicant’s maiden name

Is there a difference between an AKA and a Nickname?
A-Check does not add obvious nicknames during a background screen, although some applications might provide a place for the applicant to list nicknames—a term of endearment for example—that is not relevant in the background check process:
Legal Name: Diana Prince
AKA: Di Prince (will be added as part of the process)
Nickname: Wonder Woman (will not be added as part of the process)

How are hyphenated/double names processed?
If an applicant submits a hyphenated or double last name, A-Check will create an AKA utilizing the legal first name in combination with each of the last names to create two additional names. The last name will also be searched without the hyphen or space as a single name in conjunction with the legal first name. This process is not applied to hyphenated/double first names.

What are examples of non-AKAs A-Check might find?
A-Check reviews the original name and compares it to any AKAs that might be listed. We utilize the following guidelines to determine if names provided by the Credit Bureau are not applicable—and need not be processed:
Obvious Typographical errors
Suffixes/Prefixes
Variations of middle names or middle initials
Any initial replacing a first or last name
Opposite Gender names

Questions? We’re always here to help.

Featured

Compliance Clips for May 2021

Consumer Reporting

Missouri
If an applicant lacks concrete injury based on technical violation of FCRA employment purposes, is that grounds to sue? There is disagreement among courts, but time may bring consensus whether technical violation constitutes applicant injury. In this particular case, the plaintiff sued, claiming that he was not provided with the FCRA Summary of Rights, and was not permitted to review the report to address any information in it before his offer of employment was withdrawn. He did not, however, claim that any information in the report was inaccurate, or that his review would have resulted in him obtaining employment. The court determined that the plaintiff had standing to bring suit for this procedural violation of the FCRA.
READ MORE

New York
Let’s help keep your employment program compliant. Class action suits are ever present, as this gig employer is hit with lawsuit alleging unlawful use of criminal history to discriminate against New York City drivers. FCRA and its state equivalents impose requirements on employers using consumer reports for employment purposes, including providing notice to individuals before taking adverse action based on a consumer report. This lawsuit alleges the employer failed to comply with these requirements.
READ MORE

A Friendly Reminder about FCRA Requirements
As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is taking precautions due to COVID-19. 
The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now MAY 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

Florida
Florida Employers: A 2021 reminder worth mentioning. Public employers, contractors and subcontractors in the state of Florida are now required to enroll in and use the E-Verify system to verify identity and eligibility of all new employees. Private employers are not required to use the E-Verify system unless they have a contract with a public employer or they apply for taxpayer-funded incentives through the state Department of Economic Opportunity. They must, however, still complete and maintain I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms for the duration of employment, and for at least one year from the date the employee is terminated or three years from hire, whichever is later under the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. 
READ MORE

BAN THE BOX

Illinois
Illinois recently enacted SB 1480 (The Employee Background Fairness Act) which significantly expands Ban the Box law to restrict private employers from using a conviction record to refuse to hire, deny promotion, or take adverse action. Along with a clear definition of adverse action an employer must take prior to an employment decision, an employer may only consider an applicant or employee’s criminal convictions record if either the employment position offers the opportunity for the same or a similar offense to occur, or if hiring the applicant or continuing the current employee’s employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

New Mexico, Virginia

Following recent New York and New Jersey recreational cannabis laws, New Mexico and Virginia have now enacted similar laws regarding adult recreational cannabis use, effective July 1, 2021. Likely, employers can still prohibit cannabis and impairment at their worksites, but this does provide a good opportunity for employers to assess the implications of the laws on their current policies and drug testing practices.
READ MORE

New York
New York State legalizes recreational adult use of marijuana. On March 31, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act. While, this act is not intended to limit authority of employers from enforcing workplace drug policies, it does prohibit discrimination because of an individual’s lawful activities outside the workplace, now including the use of cannabis in accordance with state law.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

COVID-19

COVID-19 Rapid Infection At-Home Collection
Although Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dramatically impacted the business landscape worldwide, it is also encouraging to now see employers focused on safely and gradually welcoming their workforces back to the office. Depending on your company’s return to office policies, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing COVID-19 testing and surveillance solutions through A-Check’s medical partner networks. Through A-Check’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we offer an at-home collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.
READ MORE

DATA PRIVACY

Virginia
On March 2, 2021, Governor Northam signed into law Virginia’s own Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA), the second comprehensive state data privacy law in the United States after the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). The law will go into effect on January 1, 2023. As anticipated, it governs companies who collect and control consumer personal data, obligating them to have security measures and accountability in place to protect and safeguard the data. There are now more than 20 other states with active introduction of privacy legislation. Here’s the list:
READ MORE

Washington, Oklahoma, Florida
For now, proposed statewide privacy legislation in both Washington and Oklahoma fails to advance. While in Florida, the chances of passing a comprehensive privacy law are good, but legislation is currently undergoing significant amendment.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!





Featured

Michigan Ruling: Redaction of PII Expected, Beginning July 1, 2021

The state of Michigan has enacted legislation to further strengthen the security of Personal Identifiable Information (PII) by allowing the redaction of certain identifiers used as ID confirmation during court case research. Effective July 1, 2021, PII impacted (as defined in MCR 1.109(G)(9) and MCR 8.119(I)) throughout all Michigan counties may include:

DOB
SSN
Driver’s License
Passport Numbers

How does this impact A-Check criminal record searches in Michigan?

A-Check has not changed our standard processes for criminal record searches. Prior to presenting permissible results to our clients, we still require 3 identifiers to authenticate the identity of search information. At this time however, we can predict that court researchers in Michigan will have limited ability to confirm redacted information.

While this ruling may be subject to discussion, delay, or revision, we do know that a number of Michigan counties have already begun to remove identifiers prior to July 1, 2021. That said, A-Check will continue to serve our clients to the best of our ability. In speaking with Michigan courts, many clerks have mentioned that providing assistance in some capacity and wherever county process allows will continue.

We’ll keep a close eye on this ruling and will continue to report any developments as we near the July 1, 2021 effective date. We’re here to help answer any questions you may have.

Featured

Compliance Clips for April 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

California
Compliance is critical! A recent ruling approved a $175,000 class action settlement regarding alleged violation of the FCRA’s stand-alone disclosure requirement when requesting employment background screening. Let’s work together to minimize your litigation risk.
READ MORE

A Friendly Reminder about FCRA Requirements
As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is taking precautions due to COVID-19. 
The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now MAY 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

BAN THE BOX

California
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is increasing efforts to enforce compliance with Fair Chance protections against criminal record discrimination. Employers with operations in California should stay focused on compliance with protections against criminal record discrimination. These guidelines include eliminating conviction history questions on employment applications, as well as prohibiting consideration of conviction history before a conditional offer of employment. While A-Check recommends you consult with your company’s legal counsel, we are here to help answer compliance questions you may have.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

New Jersey
Marijuana is now officially legal in New Jersey. Gov. Phil Murphy signed three bills into law that make adult use of marijuana officially legal, and decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession in New Jersey. New Jersey becomes the 13th state in the nation to legalize marijuana. The bills will limit the use of previous marijuana convictions and help to create a carefully regulated cannabis marketplace, giving the state an economic boost.
READ MORE

New York
New York State legalizes recreational adult use of marijuana. On March 31, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act. The Act is not intended to limit authority of employers from enforcing workplace drug policies.
READ MORE

Nationwide Cannabis Bills in 2021
It bears repeating that there are currently more than a dozen state legislatures considering bills this year for medical and/or adult-use cannabis legalization. This site gives a rundown of continued progress toward state-level marijuana reform for 2021. At A-Check, we’re keeping a close eye on these developments and will continue to report.

Adult-Use Legalization Efforts:
Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia
Medical Legalization Efforts:
Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Tennessee
Both Medical and Adult-Use Legalization Efforts:
Indiana, South Carolina
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

COVID-19

COVID-19 Rapid Infection At-Home Collection
Although Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dramatically impacted the business landscape worldwide, it is also encouraging to now see employers focused on safely and gradually welcoming their workforces back to the office. Depending on your company’s return to office policies, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing COVID-19 testing and surveillance solutions through A-Check’s medical partner networks. Through A-Check’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we offer an at-home collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.
READ MORE

DATA PRIVACY

Minnesota
Minnesota is the latest state to introduce legislation toward a comprehensive consumer data privacy law. On February 22, the “Minnesota Consumer Data Privacy Act” was introduced as HF 1492, and is expected to be signed into law. If passed, the MCDPA will govern the processing of consumer personal information, and will provide a number of consumer privacy rights, including the right to verify, correct, delete, access, and opt out of processing personal data. It will also set company requirements for data protection and consumer privacy notices.
READ MORE

Virginia
On March 2, 2021, Governor Northam signed into law Virginia’s own Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA), the second comprehensive state data privacy law in the United States after the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). The law will go into effect on January 1, 2023. As anticipated, it governs companies who collect and control consumer personal data, obligating them to have security measures and accountability in place to protect and safeguard the data.
READ MORE

Florida
With the introduction of HB 969, Florida’s House is moving forward with major consumer data privacy legislation to address consumer rights, the protection of personal information, business online privacy policy, and more. Consumer rights will include access to their personal data, the ability to request deletion of data, and opt out of personal data sharing or selling.
READ MORE

Illinois
Yes, data protection is important—as illustrated in a recent ruling that Facebook pay a $650 million settlement for violating Illinois consumer privacy. This case involved a claim that the tech giant illegally collected biometric data.
READ MORE

Nationwide
U.S. consumer data privacy legislation could be on the way. The Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act was introduced to represent a uniform policy of regulations to help protect personal information from misuse. The bill aims to give consumers control over how businesses are sharing or selling their personal information, along with additional consumer rights regarding personal data.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

A-Check Certified Integration with Oracle Recruiting

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) integration is like having the best of both worlds. Your recruiting workflow is handled within the system you already know and use every day, and business partners like A-Check can seamlessly provide time-saving benefits (like background screening services) to help make your life just a bit easier.

A-Check Global works with many industry leading ATS vendors to integrate comprehensive background check and drug screening into the onboarding workflow—further improving the experience for employers and candidates:

  • Secure connectivity
  • Faster onboarding efficiency
  • Improved data accuracy and security
  • Compliance focused service

Oracle Recruiting Integration: Now Available within the Oracle Cloud Marketplace

A-Check is proud to share that as a Certified Oracle Gold Partner, we’re now also a Certified Integration with Oracle Recruiting, available within the Oracle Cloud Marketplace. This newest integration provides an additional resource to help organizations make informed employment decisions with greater accuracy, quicker turnaround, and within the convenience of the Oracle Recruiting talent management workflow.

A-Check Global background screening integration with Oracle Recruiting automates a critical step in the hiring process, giving hiring managers the ability to quickly request customizable background screening on candidates, receive updates throughout the workflow, and gain secure access to final reports through the Oracle Recruiting integration.

Here to Serve You through Oracle Recruiting . . . and Many Others. Keep in mind that we have also have Certified Integrations with:

And, our development experts have worked directly with clients to implement integrated solutions with many other leading ATS partners. Let us know how we can help you further improve your onboarding efficiency at your organization. We’re here to help!

Featured

Compliance Clips for March 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

Philadelphia
Effective February 20, 2021, Philadelphia has expanded legislation to prohibit covered employers from using an applicant’s credit-related information in connection with employment decisions or considerations. The amendment expands the scope of covered employers to include financial institutions and law enforcement agencies operating in Philadelphia, which were previously exempt from the law’s requirements. Once in effect, law enforcement agencies and financial institutions (such as banks, insurance companies, and brokerage firms) may not rely, in whole or in part, on credit-related information to take adverse employment action related to job applicants or employees, unless exceptions apply (obtained under federal or state law, for example).
READ MORE

Nationwide
There’s no question, Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) case filings continue to increase year over year. Here’s a link to 10 FCRA case decisions from 2020 that all clearly illustrate the importance of accuracy, disclosure, and compliance with credit reporting laws. Take a read and then let A-Check know if you have any questions about your background screening program.
READ MORE

A Friendly Reminder about FCRA Requirements
As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is taking precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now MARCH 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Nationwide Cannabis Bills in 2021
After the 2020 election where we saw five states pass marijuana legalization measures, now more than a dozen state legislatures are considering bills this year for medical and/or adult-use cannabis legalization.
Adult-Use Legalization Efforts:
Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia
Medical Legalization Efforts:
Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Tennessee
Both Medical and Adult-Use Legalization Efforts:
Indiana, South Carolina
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX

Illinois
Illinois is one of several states that have passed a Ban the Box law—called the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act—which prohibits most employers from asking about criminal history until the later stages of the application process. Under the law, employers may not ask about or consider an applicant’s criminal history until they have 1) determined the applicant to be qualified for the position, and 2) notified the applicant of being selected for an interview, or if there is no interview, extended a conditional job offer to the applicant.
READ MORE

COVID-19

COVID-19 Rapid Infection At-Home Collection
Although Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dramatically impacted the business landscape worldwide, it is also encouraging to now see employers focused on safely and gradually welcoming their workforces back to the office. Depending on your company’s return to office policies, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing COVID-19 testing and surveillance solutions through A-Check’s medical partner networks. Through A-Check’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we offer an at-home collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.
READ MORE

DATA PRIVACY

Washington State
An updated Washington state privacy act, SB 5062, was re-introduced in early January with revisions to consumer rights regarding their personal data, controller responsibility, and more. The bill will apply to companies conducting business or offering products and services to Washington consumers, controlling or processing data for 100,000+ consumers, and adds nonprofit corporations, air carriers, and higher learning institutions to the list.
READ MORE

Oklahoma
In legislation news we’re watching: Oklahoma joins numerous other states in proposing consumer data privacy legislation. The Oklahoma Computer Data Privacy Act (OCDPA), House Bill 1602, was filed in January for review and commentary. If passed, the OCDPA would require that certain companies obtain prior consent before collecting and selling consumer data. The bill also gives Oklahoma residents a mechanism for requesting that businesses disclose what information they have about them, as well as the right to request deletion of that information. The bill also provides a private right of action for Oklahoma residents for which residents may seek injunctive relief, actual damages, and statutory damages up to $7,500 for intentional violations.
READ MORE

Virginia
Virginia House of Delegates voted 89-9 to pass a privacy bill, potentially making Virginia the next state behind California to enact a comprehensive data privacy law similar to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Now, going one step further, Virginia’s Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA) is now expected to be signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam, and would take effect on January 1, 2023. Companies already complying with the CCPA have a head start on their compliance efforts but will need to plan privacy compliance program adjustments to be fully prepared for the CDPA, including consumer rights regarding personal data, controller responsibility, and more.
READ MORE

California
Yes, the CPRA deferred some of the CCPA’s employee-related requirements until Jan. 1, 2023. That said, employers are still required to provide employees with notice prior to collection of personal data. Since January 1, 2020, a notice at collection, which must be provided “at or before the point at which” the collection of information occurs, including: a list of personal information categories collected, permissible purpose, how to opt out, and how to find and view a company’s privacy notice.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

Five Questions to Ask when Selecting a Background Screening Partner

Do they understand your business?

Your organization is unique, these times are unique, and what may have worked for you a year or two ago may not necessarily present a clear picture of what will continue to work as your company evolves. The same applies to the relationship between you and your background screening partner. It should be an ongoing discussion of your specific hiring needs and how your industry impacts your background screening program.

Any reputable background screening provider can provide a service. Taking it to the next level means partnering with a vendor that’s familiar with serving your industry. For example, the healthcare industry may require regulated occupational health screening services, or perhaps screening programs for volunteer or other non-personnel positions, while the transportation industry will require motor vehicle record services that require quick and convenient bulk uploads and periodic checks for their staff.

Of course, the screening services you order may change over time as your needs of your company and your industry change. It’s not a static process. Your screening company should always be available to discuss your specific needs, and should be flexible enough to make recommendations and adjustments for ongoing focus on your business success.

At A-Check Global, it’s exactly why we enjoy holding business reviews with clients. They are valuable opportunities to discuss specific goals together while also looking at real-world data to make informed and compliant decisions as a team.

Are they focused on compliance?

It’s no secret that class action attorneys, year after year, continue to pursue employers and Consumer Reporting Agencies that are not in strict compliance with FCRA requirements.

That’s where the confusion can start. While there may be a belief that the background screening vendor is solely responsible for the compliance of the entire screening process, the reality is that it’s a shared responsibility between those that request consumer reports (a client end user) and those that compile the consumer report (A Consumer Reporting Agency like A-Check).

Language within important disclosure and authorization documents presented to job applicants can change over time, and state-by-state requirements can be cumbersome to understand and put in practice. It’s more important than ever before that your background screening partner has advanced experience with ensuring customers have what they need to remain compliant.

Are they Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) Certified?

As you may already know, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) “exists to advance excellence in the screening profession.” The PBSA was founded in 2003 as a non-profit association representing, guiding, and promoting ethics and performance standards of companies offering employment background screening services. PBSA Member companies—like A-Check Global—are defined as “consumer reporting agencies” and governed by Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) legislation.

As an active and founding member of the PBSA, we’ve been honored to work alongside this important industry association since its founding, and have been honored to achieve accreditation as, not just a business milestone, but also as valuable recognition of our ongoing commitment to maintaining the highest levels of both professional standards and customer service.

Keep in mind, PBSA membership does not result in an automatic Background Screening Agency Accreditation (BSAAP). In fact, the BSAAP is governed by a strict professional standard of specified requirements and measurements, and recognized widely as a critical seal of approval.

For our clients, this accreditation is an important element of the trust they put in us to provide quality, consistent, and compliant service. It’s definitely peace of mind knowing your screening partner has demonstrated a service commitment and a complex understanding of the background screening industry.

Are you still trying to get an answer to your question?

Customer service is probably among the top two or three pain points for most HR professionals. Well, actually, most people, even in their day to day lives. Chances are, we all have shared experiences of endless phone menus, unanswered messages, or worse, the hand-off to yet another live person who doesn’t know you, your account, or the answer to your question.

We don’t have to get too detailed here, because we all have a good idea of what it takes to provide excellent customer service, and how horrible it can be to receive unsatisfactory service from a business partner.

Simply put, your background screening partner should 1) have a dedicated customer support team who knows you and your account, 2) have secure account and information access across your support team so anyone can effectively and accurately answer your questions, 3) have notes and system alerts to help keep you updated on your background screens, and 4) maintain extended hours to serve when it’s convenient for you.

Have they invested in the customer AND candidate experience?

Your background screening partner should be taking advantage of HR technology to provide convenience, connectivity, and automation wherever possible. Their system should have the ability to integrate background screening processes into your current Applicant Tracking System (ATS)—meaning you can easily request a background screen and have secure access to the final report, all originating from the system you’re already using.

And likewise, your job applicants should have access to a straightforward, mobile-friendly application when asked to authorize and provide further information for the background screening process, or to self-schedule drug screens.

How can we help you?

That was only five questions. If you’re looking for a background screening partner, chances are you have many more to ask. We’d be honored to introduce you to A-Check Global.

Featured

Marijuana and Employment Drug Testing: What’s an Employer to Do?

It’s enough to make your head spin. Marijuana is legal for medical and/or adult recreational use in a growing number of U.S. states. However, testing positive during a drug test can be an issue for job applicants, employees, and employers alike. For employers and HR professionals, we assume trying to keep up with the velocity of new legalization has left you wondering just how these new laws are going to impact your drug testing policies.

From here on out, successfully navigating legalized marijuana legislation is going to be a challenge for organizations. Published statistics all point to increased marijuana use over the next five years (fueled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic), and U.S. legal marijuana market revenues are projected to reach $42 billion by 2025.

Marijuana and Federal Law

At the federal level, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substances are considered to have a high potential for dependency and no accepted medical use, making distribution of marijuana a federal offense. And in spite of ongoing legalization at the state level, this federal classification has not yet changed. As such, when it comes to drug testing, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to developing a program.

Because cannabis use remains illegal under federal law, employers within federal government regulated industries must maintain employment policies requiring pre-employment and random drug testing. While non-federally regulated employers are not required to include drug testing, keep in mind that there are still states and local governments that still enforce marijuana laws, and may require drug screening for certain positions.

Marijuana and State Law (Currently)

Legal use of marijuana (medical and recreational) varies from state to state. In 36 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is legal for those dealing with epilepsy or other particular illnesses to legally use marijuana for medical reasons.

In 15 states—Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington—the District of Columbia, and Guam, adults can legally use recreational marijuana.

Evolving Legislation

Let’s take a quick look at New York City, for example. Effective May 10, 2020, New York City enacted a law that considers testing of Marijuana for job applicants a discriminatory practice equivalent to denying employment to a job applicant based on race or gender. This law applies to all job applicants in New York City with the following exceptions:

  • Law enforcement positions
  • Construction workers on public projects
  • Jobs requiring a commercial license
  • Position involving the care of vulnerable persons
  • Positions that impact health or safety of the public

So, where to from here?

Regardless of state or local legislation, you as an employer have the legal right to promote and maintain an alcohol- and drug-free workplace. Likewise, you have the right to test employees (random) and job applicants (pre-employment screening) provided you clearly inform them of your organization’s substance abuse testing policies.

That said, drug screening for marijuana remains quite the debated topic. Especially in how it differs from alcohol, as alcohol does not linger in the bloodstream as cannabis does. A positive test does not mean someone is impaired at that moment. In fact, it’s widely proven that someone can fail a marijuana test days after using marijuana.

Be extremely careful when using marijuana testing results to make employment decisions. For example, if you decide to fire someone holding a medical marijuana card because of a positive drug test, it could potentially be litigated as workplace discrimination. In states like Nevada and New York, those using marijuana for a medical purpose, and holding a legal medical marijuana card, are considered legally disabled and have the same rights as others covered by disability laws which require employers to “reasonably accommodate” medical needs of an employee.

As a final thought, work closely with your legal counsel to:

  • Create standardized policies that effectively dictate all substance abuse and marijuana testing
  • Identify each job and jurisdiction to ensure compliance for each applicant/employee being tested
  • And, work closely with a resource you trust—like A-Check—to regularly confirm which states have legalized marijuana laws and what might be pending

While A-Check does not provide legal advice or counsel, we truly appreciate every opportunity to assist our clients, and welcome questions about your organization’s screening program.

We’re here to help.

Featured

Compliance Clips for February 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

FTC Settles Tenant Background Screening Company Claim
Welcome to 2021, where—no surprise—compliance is still just as important. The Federal Trade Commission has reached a $4.25 million settlement regarding alleged unfair or deceptive acts in connection with background screening reports. More specifically, 1) identifiers did not reasonably match the applicant, 2) inconsistencies existed in identifiers, 3) records did not accurately reflect offenses, and 4) multiple entries existed for criminal records. This particular complaint alleged that reasonable procedures were not in place to assure the accuracy of the criminal and eviction records obtained from a third party vendor for tenant background screening reports. While these screens were presented to landlords and property management companies, it also is a very important example to illustrate why everyone at A-Check is committed to ensuring we meet your organization’s screening requests with attention to compliant business practices.
READ MORE

A Friendly Reminder about FCRA Requirements
As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is taking precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now MARCH 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

Florida
Florida Public Employers: Every public employer, contractor, and subcontractor in Florida must now register with and use the E-Verify system to verify the work authorization status of all newly hired employees. E-Verify is the online system operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration that allows participating employers to electronically verify and confirm the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees. Both federal and Florida law prohibit employing individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States. Many states have legislation mandating E-Verify use, now including Florida.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

What We’re Watching: Potential Legislation
Looking ahead, New York, Connecticut, and Virginia might be three states likely to legalize marijuana in 2021. And 2020 national Gallup polling hits an all-time high with 68% in favor of U.S. legalization. Currently, 36 states have enacted medical cannabis legislation, with 15 also allowing for the adult-use consumption and/or retail sale of marijuana. Although 2021 isn’t a big year for elections, there are indications that New York, Connecticut, and Virginia may consider cannabis law this year.
READ MORE

Illinois
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently announced the forgiveness and expungement of about 500,000 criminal cannabis cases, as mandated by the Illinois law that legalized the licensed sale of marijuana starting in 2020. Pardons were issued for 9,210 low-level cannabis convictions, while Illinois State Police have wiped clean more than 492,000 non-felony cannabis-related arrest records. The intent of the law is to reduce the impact of the war on drugs on minorities, who were disproportionately arrested and locked up for cannabis crimes.
READ MORE

New Jersey
Although there have been delays in legislative action, and after voters approved legalization in November, the governor of New Jersey recently reaffirmed commitment to passing laws regarding marijuana. Lawmakers introduced marijuana legislation last November, soon after voters approved cannabis reform. However, since then, it’s been subject to a number of changes and delays in legislative action.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX

Nationwide
It’s now reported that as many as three-fourths of U.S. population lives within a Ban the Box jurisdiction. That’s nearly 40 states and 150+ cities and counties nationwide. Ban the Box legislation provides applicants a fair chance at employment by removing conviction and arrest history questions from job applications and delaying background checks until later in the hiring process, or even after a conditional offer has been made. We recently found a great site that clearly illustrates current states and localities with Ban the Box legislation in place.
READ MORE

DATA PRIVACY

New year, new privacy legislation. In 2021, we will likely see a wave of GDPR-like regulatory measures to address data protection and privacy around the world. With information security the focal point of a world that has made the shift to remote activity, this year may prove to be a year where countries not only catch up with their privacy legislation backlogs, but also work to enact 2021 privacy legislation. Here in the United States, three states (California, Nevada, and Maine) have enacted consumer privacy legislation, with 16 more introducing similar laws of their own. And, while there is federal law providing some degree of data protection, efforts are still being put forth to create an overarching framework to govern privacy law.
READ MORE

COVID-19

COVID-19 Rapid Infection At-Home Collection
Although Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dramatically impacted the business landscape worldwide, it is also encouraging to now see employers focused on safely and gradually welcoming their workforces back to the office. Depending on your company’s return to office policies, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing COVID-19 testing and surveillance solutions through A-Check’s medical partner networks. Through A-Check’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we offer an at-home swab collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

A Focus on Return to Office: A-Check Global COVID-19 Testing Options for Your Workforce

FeaturedA Focus on Return to Office: A-Check Global COVID-19 Testing Options for Your Workforce

Although Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dramatically impacted the business landscape worldwide, it is also encouraging to now see employers focused on safely and gradually welcoming their workforces back to the office.

While granted, it’s not quite yet a universal movement, we do speak every day with clients who are looking for resources to help them transition employees back to their physical workplaces, This not only means revising guidelines to help maintain safe, healthy offices, but perhaps also implementing COVID-19 testing as a critical element of return to office efforts.

Depending on your company’s return to office policies, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices.

We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing COVID-19 testing and surveillance solutions through A-Check’s medical partner networks.

COVID-19 Rapid Infection At-Home Collection

Through A-Check’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we offer an at-home swab collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.

This anterior nares (nasal) swab collection kit, which is authorized by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), allows your employees to self-collect a sample to then be tested at a Quest laboratory. This test is used to screen for COVID-19.

Your employees have a convenient option to collect an upper respiratory nasal sample at home using the collection kit sent directly via express delivery at no additional charge to them. Detailed instructions on how to collect a sample are included in the collection kit. Also included in this at-home kit are a prepaid overnight shipping label and envelope that your employees can use to securely ship the sample to a Quest laboratory for COVID-19 testing.

Your employees are alerted when test results are ready (typically within 24-48 hours) and have secure access to the patient-friendly report. Additionally, your administrators can securely review and verify employee participation, status, and results online.

Additional COVID-19 Screening and Testing Services

Through our partnership with Concentra, we also offer initial screening using a COVID-19 Assessment. A clinician reviews your employee’s responses to determine if the employee may go to the office or if testing for active COVID-19 infection, testing for COVID-19 antibodies, or an in-person clinical examination is recommended.

  • COVID-19 Antibody Test – Initial: includes comprehensive screening and tests employees for possible COVID-19 immunity
  • COVID-19 RNA Test – Initial: includes comprehensive screening and tests employees for active COVID-19 infection
  • COVID-19 RNA Test – Surveillance: includes ongoing screening and testing of employees for active COVID-19 infection

Your employee’s COVID-19 status will be assessed by experienced clinicians who apply their medical knowledge and experience to evaluate the risk of each individual employee and the risk to the workforce.

You have the added assurance that services will be delivered consistently from more than 520 Concentra medical centers nationwide. We are more than happy to help you identify locations closest to your employees.

Who Should Get Tested?

While effective testing is essential in helping slow COVID-19 spread by identifying and isolating those with active infections, it’s also critical to make sure tests are distributed and implemented efficiently. That is, not everyone needs or should be getting tested. COVID-19 testing may be an option for those who:

  • Are required to perform COVID-19 testing to meet school, workforce, or travel requirements.
  • Are identified by an employer, public health department, contact investigator, or healthcare provider as someone who should get tested.
  • Have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Live or work in a place where people reside, meet, or gather in close proximity.
  • Currently have symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath, and/or loss of taste or smell (typical symptoms).
  • Are trying to determine if a prior infection with COVID-19 has resolved.

We are committed to the health and safety of our valued clients.

For more information, pricing, and to place an immediate order:
Contact Us
acheckorders@acheckglobal.com
877-345-2021

Featured

Compliance Clips for January 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

FCRA Violation Finding
Another reminder regarding the importance of FCRA compliance: On November 12, 2020, Illinois-based a non-bank debt collector and furnisher of consumer information, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) entered into a Consent Order requiring that they take a number of affirmative actions to prevent future violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as well as pay a $500,000 civil money penalty for past violations, including consumer disclosure and communication.
READ MORE

A Friendly Reminder about FCRA Requirements
As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Further Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now January 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Virginia
On the heels of the November election, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a plan to establish a path toward marijuana legalization. However, it is assumed that legalizing recreational marijuana will likely be a lengthy process. If legislation passes, Virginia would join about a dozen other states and could become the first state in the South to legalize recreational marijuana. Currently, medical cannabis is legal in Virginia for certain patients.
READ MORE

New Jersey
Because legalized adult recreational use of cannabis is coming to New Jersey—as of January 1, 2021—employers will want to start considering steps toward compliance while proposed laws are in discussion. Here’s a good list of where to focus initial efforts. Specifically, hiring and adverse action guidance for employees based on cannabis use. Likewise, proposed law would permit employers to keep or establish drug and alcohol-free workplaces and employers would not have to permit or accommodate cannabis use in the workplace or during work hours.
READ MORE

Texas
In news we’re watching: Historically, Texas has taken a tough stance on marijuana possession, but Texas lawmakers will once again take another run at legislation to legalize marijuana when the legislature convenes in January, 2021. But while those who are pre-filing marijuana legalization bills have high hopes, most political pundits say they doubt that Texas will decriminalize marijuana in 2021.
READ MORE

Federal
The nation may be one step closer to federal decriminalization of cannabis. A House of Representatives vote, 228-164, removes marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, eliminating conflict between state and federal marijuana laws. The legislation would also expunge some criminal records, allow for more testing and research of the substance, allow veterans for the first time to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their VA doctors, remove the threat of deportation for immigrants accused of minor marijuana infractions or who are gainfully employed in the state-legal cannabis industry, and create funding for people and communities impacted by the War on Drugs.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX

New York City
On December 10, 2020, New York City expanded the scope of its Ban the Box law—the New York City Fair Chance Act (FCU)—further limiting an employer’s ability to take adverse action based on pending criminal charges or arrests, or convictions arising during employment. The amendments expand the FCA’s protections by requiring employers to apply the FCA review process before taking adverse action based on an applicant or employee’s pending, open criminal charges, arrests or accusations. The amendments to the FCA also apply the FCA notice and review process to criminal convictions arising during employment.
READ MORE

COVID-19

A Quick Scam Reminder
In a recent BBB Scam Alert: COVID-19 vaccines have arrived. So have the scams. Watch out for phony treatments and phishing messages while government officials crack down on fake testing kits and vaccines. Scammers are very creative, so be skeptical of anything that seems too good—or crazy—to be true. Double check any information about the vaccine with official news sources. And be aware that none of the vaccines can be currently purchased online or in stores.
READ MORE

Return-to-Office COVID-19 Testing Services for Your Workforce
Depending on your company’s policy, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices you may already have in place. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing solutions to meet your immediate needs. Testing and surveillance services through A-Check’s Medical Center partner networks can help as your employees return to the office.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help.

Featured

Happy Holidays from everyone at A-Check!

As we all work feverishly toward the last business day of 2020, we just want to take a few moments to wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season. Thank you for your trust in us throughout 2020. It’s been quite a ride this year, and we owe our current and future success to your loyal and ongoing business. Likewise, it is an honor to be part of your organization’s family, and we appreciate every opportunity to help you and your business thrive.

Here’s to the opportunity and success that lies ahead of us.

You’ve probably heard already, but we’re all planning to take a little time to enjoy the holidays with our families too. Here’s a quick note of our upcoming holiday hours of operation.

Thursday, December 24: Closed at 3:00 pm (PST)
Friday, December 25: Closed in observance of Christmas
Thursday, December 31: Closed at 3:00 pm (PST)
Friday, January 1: Closed in observance of New Year’s Day

Please note: most schools, businesses, courts, government agencies, and drug collection facilities will have limited availability during the holidays. Minor delays may occur for some search results.

As always, we’re here to help. Just reach out and let us know what we can do to assist. Have a healthy, happy, and peaceful holiday season!

Featured

Celebrating 50 Years of the FCRA

Perhaps it went a little unnoticed by many, but let’s take just a moment now to acknowledge that the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)—the nation’s first consumer financial privacy statute—recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The FCRA was designed to regulate the practices of consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) that collect and process information into reports used by businesses to make informed financial or employment decisions about consumers. Since 1970, the law has been an immense benefit to consumers, and will continue to ensure covered entities honor their legal obligations. Likewise, it will also require ongoing review to address the evolving economic landscape.

There have been many additional developments to the FCRA over the years, but three important features are as applicable today as they were decades ago during its introduction:

  • The law was constructed to regulate the efficiency of the nation’s consumer credit reporting organizations, drastically reducing the amount of time it took credit applications to be reviewed and processed.
  • The FCRA included legislation specifically designed to improve accuracy and integrity of information presented in consumer reports.
  • And third, it set important—and evolving—provisions to minimize risk of misuse by specifically limiting private consumer information access to only those with a legitimate, permissible purpose to access it.
    READ MORE

A Friendly Reminder about FCRA Requirements

As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. Because we’re committed to compliant business practice, we keep a close eye on our own efforts while processing your requests—and are equally committed to our clients’ compliance throughout their employment programs. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements to keep handy:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check.
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and we always welcome your questions.

Featured

Compliance Clips for December 2020

CONSUMER REPORTING

The California Privacy Rights Act
The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), a ballot initiative approved by California voters, amends the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to create additional consumer rights and create a new category of consumer personal information. Never before has a state gone so far to protect consumer data privacy. Before the CPRA takes effect on Jan. 1, 2023, we expect to see another lengthy process of proposing, commenting on, and finalizing CPRA regulations, which the CPRA requires to be promulgated by July 1, 2022. Here’s a closer look.
READ MORE

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Further Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now December 31, 2020.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

Recent E-Verify Requirement Update
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new timing requirement for employers that receive a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) during the E-Verify case creation process. E-Verify now requires enrolled employers to take action on Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNC) for their employees within 10 federal government working days or risk potential compliance actions, up to and including termination of their E-Verify account.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

New York
In news we’re watching: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said legalizing marijuana could represent a key opportunity for the state to recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic. Cannabis has been decriminalized in New York since 2019, but recreational marijuana remains illegal in the state. The hope is to have something introduced to address this in early 2021.
READ MORE

Ballot Measures Passed in November
Cannabis legalization was on many state ballots in November, and of the states that voted on cannabis, all approved legal recreational marijuana for adults age 21 and older. New Jersey and Montana approved recreational cannabis, Mississippi approved medical use, while South Dakota approved both recreational and medical use at one time.
READ MORE

Oregon
In yet more recent ballot news, Oregon has become the first state to decriminalize personal possession of small amount of illegal hard drugs, including cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, and methamphetamine. The ballot measure reclassified possession of small amounts of a list of hard drugs as a Class E civil violation, similar to a traffic offense.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX

Montgomery County, Maryland
The Montgomery County, Maryland Council approved amendments to its 2014 Ban the Box legislation. Original legislation prohibited employers with 15 or more full-time employees in Montgomery County from conducting a criminal background check of a job applicant, or otherwise inquiring about the criminal or arrest history of an applicant, prior to the completion of a first interview. Bill 35-20 expands previous legislation by prohibiting background checks until after extending a conditional job offer, and redefining “employer” to include any employer with one or more full-time employees in Montgomery County.
READ MORE

COVID-19

Return-to-Office COVID-19 Testing Services for Your Workforce
Depending on your company’s policy, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices you may already have in place. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing solutions to meet your immediate needs. Testing and surveillance services through A-Check’s partner network of Concentra Medical Centers can help as your employees return to the office.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

The 2020 November Election Was a Big Day . . . for Marijuana.

While Americans across the country were glued to their TVs throughout the day, it’s noteworthy to mention that aside from the Presidential election, it was a big day in America for the legalization of marijuana. In fact, voters in five states approved new measures to legalize medical or recreational marijuana. Here’s a quick rundown of ballot measures that passed:

Arizona
While an earlier legalization measure failed in 2016, voters this time around passed Prop 207—the Smart and Safe Arizona Act (SSAA). This new legislation will permit possession (up to one ounce) and use of marijuana for adults ages 21+, and will permit individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants in their primary residence.

Mississippi
Nearly 70% of voters supported Mississippi Ballot Measure 1, legislation permitting doctors within the state to prescribe medical marijuana for patients with at least one of nearly two dozen qualifying conditions such as cancer, PTSD, HIV, and many more.

Montana
Voters passed Initiative 190 and Initiative 118, which together legalize the consumption, possession, and purchase of marijuana for adults ages 21+. This legislation also provides an opportunity for people serving marijuana-related sentences—which are no longer considered crimes under these Initiatives—to request resentencing or that their convictions be expunged.

New Jersey
A majority of New Jersey voters supported legalization, by a roughly 2-to-1 margin, to pass Public Question No. 1. This legislation will legalize the use and possession of marijuana for adults ages 21+, and will also legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of marijuana. Keep an eye out for neighboring states to consider and introduce future legislation measures to capitalize on this area’s tax revenue potential.

South Dakota
Voters overwhelmingly passed Constitutional Amendment A and Measure 26, making it the first state to legalize marijuana for both recreational and medical use on the same ballot. Legislation legalizes recreational marijuana use, possession, and distribution of up to one ounce for adults ages 21+. Additionally, this allows for a medical marijuana program to support patients with a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition.

Oregon
Additionally, it’s worth reporting that Oregon voters passed Measure 110, which decriminalizes possession of small amounts of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine—making them no longer punishable by jail time, but instead amounting to something along the lines of a traffic ticket. It also evolves addiction assistance and health services, offering critical help instead of a jail sentence.

Please keep in mind that in spite of evolving legislation, employers still have a right to maintain a drug-free workplace and/or maintain workplace policies that address drug and alcohol use among employees or applicants. We’re happy to answer any substance abuse screening questions you may have, help you implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs, or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us.

Featured

Compliance Clips for November 2020

EMPLOYMENT LAW

2020 Headlines
While Halloween is now officially behind us, it’s still worth a quick look at 2020 headlines that are sure to give HR professionals—and the rest of us—nightmares! Steer clear of lawsuits by managing with care and attention to employment law.
READ MORE

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Extension Still Applies: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. 
The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now November 19, 2020.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

Exploring the Basics of Form I-9
With U.S. government focus on enforcement and audit of employee authorization to work, it’s always worth taking a few moments to review the basics of Form I-9. Every employer must have a Form I-9 for every employee. While the form itself is not complicated, accuracy and process counts to ensure that you’re prepared for an audit.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Substance Abuse Trends Reported by Quest Diagnostics
U.S. General Workforce drug positivity hits 16-Year High in 2019. Quest Diagnostics—a trusted A-Check drug screening partner and leading provider of diagnostic services—recently released their Drug Testing Index™ analysis of more than nine million workplace drug test results. As Quest Diagnostics reports, even prior to COVID-19, workplace drug positivity rates were trending in the wrong direction. Now, with many Americans under higher stress levels as they continue to juggle remote work schedules, childcare and homeschool responsibilities, and even frustration from ongoing social isolation, it stands to reason that there may have been negative impact on general health and well-being during these recent months.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX AND CRIMINAL HISTORY DISCLOSURE

Hawaii
Now effective, Hawaii has amended its Ban the Box law, offering protections for individuals with old and/or relatively minor conviction records. The law prevents most private sector employers from considering felony convictions older than seven years, and misdemeanor convictions older than five years. However, an employer making employment decisions may inquire about and consider an individual’s criminal conviction record, provided the conviction in question has a logical relationship to the position’s duties.
READ MORE

South Carolina
In other Ban the Box news, the city of North Augusta, SC, is removing a question about criminal history from job applications for city positions. This change won’t alter the hiring process at all; it will simply remove the question from upcoming applications.
READ MORE

A Ban the Box Overview
36 states and 150+ municipalities have Ban the Box laws to prohibit employers from asking about criminal history on job applications. This article quickly details a number of the most recent changes and updates in Hawaii, California, and St. Louis, Missouri.
READ MORE

SALARY HISTORY

Maryland
Now effective as of October 1, 2020, there are more boxes to ban from Maryland employment applications. Maryland prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s current or prior pay. This new law will 1) prohibit employers from requesting or relying on job applicants’ prior pay history to make decisions about employment or initial pay in most circumstances; and 2) require an employer to provide an applicant, upon request, with the wage range for the job applied for. The new law amends Maryland’s existing Equal Pay for Equal Work (EWEW) law, and will apply to all private, state, and local government employers in Maryland.
READ MORE

A Look at Salary History Bans Already in Place
State and local governments are increasingly adopting legislation to prohibit employers from requesting salary history from job applicants. For your reference, here’s a great running list of states and localities that have legislation in place.
READ MORE

COVID-19

Updated COVID-19 Guidance from the EEOC
While we mentioned this in last month’s email, it’s worth repeating, especially as many organizations continue to make cautious, careful decisions about the balance between remote and in-office workforces.

The EEOC recently updated guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Coronavirus pandemic. This new information expands their prior guidance on how the ADA applies to the current pandemic. In a question and answer form, this guidance covers a number of important issues surrounding COVID-19 and the workplace, including: the right for an employer to ask employees entering the office if they have COVID-19 symptoms, the right for an employer to report employees with COVID-19 or associated symptoms to appropriate personnel, the right for an employer to require a temperature check, and much more.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

A Quick Look at Pre-Employment Credit Screening (From the Applicant Point of View)

If your organization runs pre-employment credit checks as part of your overall screening program, let’s ask you to put on your “applicant hat” for this blog entry. We’ll take a minute to look at credit checks from the applicant angle. And more importantly, to see what they face when applying for positions while also battling—or recovering from—lackluster credit histories.

So, just how many companies run pre-employment credit checks?

You might be surprised to know that a good percentage of companies make it common practice to run credit checks, especially for job positions handling money and/or sensitive, personal information. In fact, many run credit checks as a predictor that if an applicant successfully manages their own money, it’s a sign that he or she will make good, ethical decisions in the workplace.

A 2018 HR.com survey of HR professionals reported that just over 30% of companies performed credit checks on at least some of their applicants, if not all. Of course, if you’re not already running credit checks, we always recommend you check with your legal resource to confirm any limitations in your area for doing so.

Let applicants know what information is available during a credit check.

Your applicant just dazzled you with an impressive interview. You think it could potentially be a great match, and hopefully for many years to come. You may even be considering a conditional job offer. Now, it’s time to share that you run a pre-employment credit check as part of your company’s overall background screening—and here come the questions. No worries, this is what you do best. Take a moment to let them know what is, and isn’t, part of the credit check:

  • First, and probably most important to your applicant: the credit check doesn’t include a credit score. The credit score isn’t provided as part of a pre-employment credit check.
  • The report will show open accounts (without actual account numbers), payment history, outstanding balances, and open credit amounts. You’ll also have access to information about accounts in collections, negative payment history, and credit to balance limits ratio—unfortunately known as red flag items that illustrate credit issues.
  • The credit check is known as a soft hit, which will have no impact on the applicant’s credit score. Hard hits, like inquiries run for purposes of a loan offer or credit extension, can potentially impact a credit score.

Now, pretend you’re the applicant. How’s YOUR Credit?

Applicants may have asked you how they can improve their credit score. As an HR professional, it certainly helps to have a few key pieces of advice on hand. Or, perhaps this has you now thinking about your own credit history. Because who knows, perhaps someday you might be an applicant about to land your next dream job!

  • Top Tip: Regularly review your credit report for inaccurate information. You may already know, but it bears repeating that you can obtain a free credit report from all three credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.com. You’re entitled to one free report per year from each bureau (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). If you spread that out across the year, it would mean you could go to one of the three bureaus every four months for your report.  
  • If you find inaccurate information, it is critical to immediately dispute it with the credit bureaus. Keep in mind that applicants finding inaccurate information may also reach out before a credit check to let you know they are currently disputing information. And, while it may be a little “too much information,” know that applicants may let you know their credit troubles are the result of a particular hardship—like a divorce, family death, or other life event.

The bottom line, pre-employment credit checks can be a valuable tool to understand your applicants’ approach to money management, as well as their potential to make appropriate decisions in their roles within your organization. As an HR professional, it’s also a great opportunity to help ensure you’re making informed employment decisions for the safety and well-being of your organization.

Featured

Compliance Clips for October 2020

CONSUMER REPORTING

Helpful Compliance Guidance for End Users of Consumer Reports
You may already know that the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the primary legislation regulating the procurement and use of a consumer report (a background screening report from A-Check Global, for example). Adding even more complexity to compliance focus—regulatory compliance for domestic consumer reporting also includes state and jurisdiction consumer reporting laws with additional procedures and disclosures. This topic can become very confusing, very quickly. Please know we’re always here to help. A-Check developed a handy checklist to help you gauge your organization’s current level of regulatory compliance for the end use of consumer reports in the hiring process.
READ MORE

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Extension: Form I-9 and Requirements in response to COVID-19
An additional update is available in light of ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, it has been announced that remote I-9 document review has been extended for another 60 days; the expiration date for these accommodations is now November 19, 2020.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

Florida
The Florida Governor signed a new E-Verify law. Beginning January 1, 2021, Florida public employers, private contractors, and subcontractors, must register with and use E-Verify to confirm work eligibility of new hires.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Arizona
A measure to legalize marijuana in Arizona officially qualified for the November General Election ballot as Prop. 207. Under the measure, adults could possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. The initiative also contains several restorative justice provisions such as allowing individuals with prior marijuana convictions to petition the courts for expungement. We’ll keep an eye on this one and report back to you after the elections.
READ MORE

Substance Abuse Trends Reported by Quest Diagnostics
U.S. General Workforce drug positivity hits 16-Year High in 2019. Quest Diagnostics—a trusted A-Check drug screening partner and leading provider of diagnostic services—recently released their Drug Testing Index™ analysis of more than nine million workplace drug test results. As Quest Diagnostics reports, even prior to COVID-19, workplace drug positivity rates were trending in the wrong direction. Now, with many Americans under higher stress levels as they continue to juggle remote work schedules, childcare and homeschool responsibilities, and even frustration from ongoing social isolation, it stands to reason that there may have been negative impact on general health and well-being during these recent months.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX AND CRIMINAL HISTORY DISCLOSURE

Hawaii
Effective September 15, 2020, Hawaii amends its Ban the Box law to fortify protections for individuals with old and/or relatively minor conviction records. The law prevents most private sector employers from considering felony convictions older than seven years, and misdemeanor convictions older than five years. However, an employer making employment decisions may inquire about and consider an individual’s criminal conviction record, provided the conviction in question has a logical relationship to the position’s duties.
READ MORE

North Carolina
State jobs will be more open to people with criminal records, due to a new executive order signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Starting in November, 2020, the state will no longer ask prospective job applicants to check a box saying whether they have a criminal record. This law will apply only to state government jobs, not private companies or local governments. The elimination of that question on job applications has been a longtime goal of Ban the Box supporters in North Carolina.
READ MORE

SALARY HISTORY

Maryland
Maryland prohibits employers from relying on job applicants’ prior pay. The new salary history ban and wage range notice requirement takes effect October 1, 2020. This new law will 1) prohibit employers from requesting or relying on job applicants’ prior pay history to make decisions about employment or initial pay in most circumstances; and 2) require an employer to provide an applicant, upon request, with the wage range for the job applied for. The new law amends Maryland’s existing Equal Pay for Equal Work (EWEW) law, and will apply to all private, state, and local government employers in Maryland.
READ MORE

A Look at Salary History Bans Already in Place
State and local governments are increasingly adopting legislation to prohibit employers from requesting salary history from job applicants. For your reference, here’s a great running list of states and localities that have legislation in place.
READ MORE

COVID-19

Updated COVID-19 Guidance from the EEOC
The EEOC recently updated guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Coronavirus pandemic. This new information expands their prior guidance on how the ADA applies to the current pandemic. In a question and answer form, this guidance covers a number of important issues surrounding COVID-19 and the workplace, including: the right for an employer to ask employees entering the office if they have COVID-19 symptoms, the right for an employer to report employees with COVID-19 or associated symptoms to appropriate personnel, the right for an employer to require a temperature check, and much more.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

U.S. General Workforce Drug Positivity hits 16-Year High in 2019

Quest Diagnostics—a trusted A-Check drug screening partner and leading provider of diagnostic services—recently released their Drug Testing Index™ analysis of more than nine million workplace drug test results. According to their findings, the rate of workforce drug positivity hit a 16-year high in 2019. For example, positivity rates in the combined U.S. workforce increased in urine drug tests, climbing to 4.5%, the highest level since 2003—and more than 28% percent higher than the thirty-year low of 3.5% recorded between 2010 and 2012.

Here are a few key index findings from Quest:

  • Marijuana positivity continues to top the list of most commonly detected substances across all U.S. workforce categories, reaching 3.1% in 2019. This of course is led by positivity in recreational use states. And we hear you . . . it’s hard enough keeping track of evolving legalization legislation. Here’s a website with comprehensive information that may be a good resource in addition to our own compliance updates each month.
  • Specific regions of the United States, particularly the West and Midwest, experienced increases in positivity for cocaine and methamphetamine in 2019. Positivity increased to as high as 0.28% in these areas. 
  • Methamphetamine positivity continues to increase across multiple specimen types. General U.S. workforce categories reached positivity a positivity rate of 0.19% in 2019, when analyzing results from urine, hair, and oral fluid testing.
  • When looking across classifications based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the Retail Trade category has been identified by Quest as holding the top spot for industry-specific positivity since 2015.
  • And, since 2015, the post-accident positivity rate has increased each year in the general U.S. workforce, reaching 9.1% in 2019.
  • More Quest insight can be found online within their Drug Testing Index.

Will COVID-19 prove to further these trends?

As Quest Diagnostics reports, even prior to COVID-19, workplace drug positivity rates were trending in the wrong direction. Now, with many Americans under higher stress levels as they continue to juggle remote work schedules, childcare and homeschool responsibilities, and even frustration from ongoing social isolation, it stands to reason that there may have been negative impact on general health and well-being during these recent months.

This combination of external forces can very easily lead to worsening heath issues and the opportunity to perhaps abuse alcohol or drugs—even among those who would not normally be inclined to do so. It’s not simply an issue of those at risk relapsing into prior addictive behavior.

Let’s work together for the continued safety of your workplace

Based on the potential for abuse due to COVID-19 related anxiety and strain, it is critical to continue your focus on workplace safety, as well as all employee health concerns.

Your company may be operating with a remote workforce, and you may be in the fortunate position to welcome new employees to the team over the coming weeks and months. Screening employees for substance abuse before they begin working for you—or if you have begun to see sharp declines in remote productivity among current employees—can greatly help ensure you’re doing all you can to keep a safe workplace and healthy, productive team members.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your options, what you currently might have in place, or to help you build an effective, compliant drug screening program for your company.

Featured

Compliance Clips for September 2020

CONSUMER REPORTING

FCRA Class Action Activity
With nearly 5,000 FCRA cases filed in 2019, it’s no wonder everyone at A-Check Global is so committed to compliance. Case law decisions surrounding the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) continue to spotlight the critical need for compliance in background screening. Let’s use ongoing class action suits as an opportunity to see activity trends and best practice suggestions that can help your company remain compliant.
READ MORE

I-9 COMPLIANCE

A Further Extension: Form I-9 and Requirements in Light of COVID-19
An additional update is available in light of ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.
UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, it has been announced that remote I-9 document review has been extended for another 30 days; the expiration date for these accommodations is now September 19, 2020.
The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

I-9 Compliance Advice for Employers
And while we’re on the subject of I-9, we think there’s always time for a useful Top 10 list. Here’s a quick look at best practices for how to stay compliant with I-9 regulations.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Marijuana Legalization in November Elections
Along with all the other upcoming election activity, here’s a quick read on states voting on marijuana legalization in November: New Jersey, Mississippi, and South Dakota. Additional states—Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, and Oklahoma—are all working toward ballot measures for the upcoming November election.
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New York
New York continues to lead the way with employee-friendly laws, regulations, and court rulings, including their approach to marijuana in the workplace. Employers should proceed with caution when terminating an employee who fails a drug test for marijuana. A New York employer was recently sued for discharging an employee for a positive marijuana test. They were sued for disability discrimination based on the employee disability and failure to accommodate a disability.
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AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX AND CRIMINAL HISTORY DISCLOSURE

Boston University
A new player in the Ban-the-Box movement: Boston University is hoping to diversify its applicant pool by no longer requiring disclosure of criminal history on grad school applications. Recent research has highlighted that knowing applicant criminal history doesn’t help predict or reduce crime on campuses, and additionally, can have the negative effect of discrimination against people with criminal records.
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Montgomery County, MD
A new bill is being introduced in Montgomery County, MD, to expand the scope of a Ban the Box law already in place, and would prohibit criminal background checks on job applicants until after a conditional job offer has been made. If passed, it would also apply to businesses with fewer than 15 employees. Further discussion planned for September 15.
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Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Senate Bill 637 was recently signed, removing some job licensing barriers to Pennsylvania workers with a criminal record. It is reported that one in five Pennsylvanians needs an occupational license to work. Boards and commissions are now not allowed to deny someone employment based on their criminal history unless their prior offenses are related to that particular line of work. Additionally, if boards and commissions do have stipulations about granting a job license to someone based on certain prior criminal offenses, that information will have to be publically available. However, sexual offenders will still not be permitted to work as healthcare providers.
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FDIC Restrictions Loosened
The FDIC has loosened a number of restrictions that previously prohibited the hiring of bank personnel with criminal histories. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) published a final rule regarding Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, which restricts hiring at FDIC-insured depository institutions. Changes include the narrowing scope of crimes subject to Section 19 and the circumstances under which the FDIC’s written consent is required for a financial institution to make a hiring decision. This will allow more applicants to obtain work at FDIC member banks without having to go through the Section 19 application process.
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SALARY HISTORY

Philadelphia
Starting September 1, 2020, Philadelphia employers will no longer be able to ask job applicants about their salary history, or require job applicants to disclose their salary history during the application process. Applicants may choose to disclose their wage history voluntarily, but an employer cannot use that information in setting initial wages. Likewise, Philadelphia employers may not retaliate against applicants who refuse to disclose their wage history.
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Anticipated Court Delays Due to Extreme Weather Events

In the midst of recent and anticipated tropical storm and hurricane activity, we first want to say that we hope you and your families remain healthy and out of harm’s way. Due to these events, clients should anticipate delays at courthouses within the following counties. A-Check will continue to follow up on the status of these counties and provide additional updates as weather patterns are updated.

Current Counties Affected:
Texas: Jefferson, Hardin, Chambers, Sabine, and Orange
Louisiana: East Baton Rouge, St. Landry, and Livingston, Lafourche, Allen, Jefferson Davis, Cameron, St. John the Baptist

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Helpful Compliance Guidance for End Users of Consumer Reports

You may already know that the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the primary legislation regulating the procurement and use of a consumer report (a background screening report from A-Check Global, for example). In fact, A-Check is required to distribute a simplified document—Notice to Users of Consumer Reports: Obligations of Users Under the FCRA—that illustrates End User requirements.

Adding even more complexity to compliance focus—regulatory compliance for domestic consumer reporting also includes state and jurisdiction consumer reporting laws with additional procedures and disclosures.

Sound like a lot to keep up with? It is, and that’s why we’re your partner in the process.

This topic can become very confusing, very quickly. Regulatory compliance can be a lot for employers to digest while also depending on background screening reports to make ongoing hiring decisions. While many organizations may believe the background check company is solely responsible for the entire scope of every background screen, the reality is it’s a shared responsibility between those requesting a consumer report (the End User) and the company compiling the consumer report (A Consumer Reporting Agency like A-Check).

Your responsibilities as an End User:

It is recommended that your organization develop a background screening program and policy to ensure you’ve got a consistent process in place that can be regularly audited and adjusted if necessary. What’s more, this comprehensive documentation will go a long way in providing a defense should you experience a legal complaint from an applicant.

We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have about your own background screening program, but in the meantime, A-Check has developed the following checklist to help you quickly gauge your organization’s current level of regulatory compliance for the end use of consumer reports in the hiring process:

PERMISSIBLE PURPOSE:
Ensure that your teams understands the permissible purpose for obtaining a consumer report and that you have certified with your Consumer Reporting Agency (A-Check, for example) that you’ll comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and all other legislation regulating the use of consumer reports.

DISCLOSURE:
Identify and carefully construct each of the required Disclosures for your process. Consider federal and state law, in addition to including all necessary language based on the type of information you include in the consumer report used for screening job applicants. For example:
– Consumer Report Disclosure
– Investigative Consumer Reporting Disclosure
– California Investigative Consumer Report Disclosure & check box requirement
– Credit Report Disclosure

AUTHORIZATION:
Craft a compliance Authorization form for signature. For example:
– Consumer Report Authorization that states “I authorize” the background check
– State required notices for Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Washington & check box requirements
– Personal Identifying Information form if applicable
– FCRA Summary of Rights
– If applicable, a compliant e-signature process

EVALUATION CRITERIA:
Standardize evaluation criteria based upon the characteristics and requirements of the job and not based on the characteristics of what is found in a consumer report.

DECISION:
A decision to hire is easy—simply onboard your applicant. However, the adverse decision not to hire based on the contents of a consumer report must be executed flawlessly each time a candidate is denied a job, including A) Pre-adverse—a dispute waiting period of 5 days, and B) Adverse communication. It is important to follow the FCRA process and applicable legislation like Ban the Box, etc. For example:
– FCRA: Pre-adverse Communication, EEOC form, copy of the report, and Summary of Rights
– Pre-adverse Ban the Box requirements including forms in Los Angeles and New York City
– Final Adverse Communication with state required notices for New Jersey, New York, & Washington
– Final Adverse Ban the Box requirements including forms in Los Angeles and New York City

Have questions about your current background screening program? We welcome your call, and we’re happy to help.

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Compliance Clips for August 2020

CONSUMER REPORTING

FCRA Class Action Activity
With 4,937 FCRA cases filed in 2019, it’s no wonder everyone at A-Check Global is so committed to compliance. And, since the FCRA allows for the award of statutory damages and attorney’s fees, case filings are unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Let’s use ongoing class action suits as an opportunity to see activity trends and best practice suggestions that can help your company remain compliant.
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How the FCRA Protects You
The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects you by ensuring the accuracy and privacy of your personal information, and by regulating the way credit reporting agencies gather, process, and share your data. Here’s a quick “refresher” read on basic protections the FCRA provides you and all other consumers.
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I-9 COMPLIANCE

A Further Extension: Form I-9 and Requirements in Light of COVID-19
There has been an additional update in light of ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.
UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, it has been announced that remote I-9 document review has been extended for another 30 days; the original exemption was set to expire July 19, 2020.
The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Kansas Currently Debating Marijuana Legislation
Marijuana legalization remains controversial in Kansas despite neighboring states showing much success. Kansas House candidates weigh in on the subject of future legislation in this quick read.
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Montana Also Considering Marijuana Legislation
Montana may be on track to have marijuana legalization measures for the November ballot. In spite of signature gathering setbacks caused by COVID-19, Montana marijuana activists said on Friday that official county-level data shows they’ve collected enough valid signatures to qualify two legalization measures for the November ballot.
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AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX

Aiken, South Carolina Joins Ban the Box
Aiken becomes the latest South Carolina city to join the Ban the Box initiative, removing criminal history from job applications—giving formerly incarcerated people a better chance at getting a job.
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Suffolk County, New York: Ban the Box Effective August 25, 2020
Suffolk County, NY, soon will join other state and local governments enacting Ban The Box legislation, prohibiting the County or any other employer having at least 15 employees from asking job applicants about their prior criminal convictions until after the first interview. This previously passed Amendment will now go into effect on August 25, 2020.
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COVID-19 & RETURN TO OFFICE

Workers Not Required to Submit to COVID-19 Antibody Testing
For those of you preparing to welcome employees back to the office: the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently stated that employers may not require that workers submit to a COVID-19 antibody test. An antibody test constitutes a medical examination under the ADA, and doesn’t meet the law’s “job related/business necessity” standard. The EEOC also stated that while temperature checks are also medical exams, they do satisfy as an element within a combination of health measures.
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Unprecedented Times: Courts Remain Closed or “Kind-Of Open”

As an employer focused on the health of your employees and the continued success of your business, you’ve no doubt made a lot of pretty big adjustments to the way you do things. COVID-19 has presented challenges like we’ve never seen before.

Here at A-Check, we’ve been working via remote workforce to meet your needs without interruption, while at the same time navigating widespread court closures that have limited our access to documents and information.

As you already know, we continue to see impact in areas that have been hit hardest by COVID-19—like California and New Jersey. In NJ for example, some public access terminals have been removed, and court clerks are experiencing overwhelming call volume from field researchers requesting updates.

Courts are also working hard to meet the need

In spite of ongoing uncertainty and pandemic spikes, courts across the country have been doing their best to safely reopen wherever and whenever possible. This is great news for A-Check Global and other consumer reporting agencies trying to assist our customer requests.

During this time, many criminal record checks have been fulfilled through electronic court research, and we’ve provided results with little, if any delay. That said, in-person research has continued to be challenging in some courts. Limitations understandably continue to create longer turnaround times:

  • Courts are implementing CDC health guidelines. And while that is great for the safety of employees and visitors, that safety often means reduced capacity—often limited to just a few researchers within the building at a time—and longer turnaround time within courts.
  • Some courts have either removed or limited the access to public-facing terminals, limiting researcher access to information.
  • Some courts are requiring visitor/researcher appointments during specific times and days, or are limiting the amount of time any researcher can spend using public-facing terminals.
  • And, courts who offer personal service are now working with a substantial backlog of information requests that need to be fulfilled before getting to newer requests.

We’re here to help keep your requests moving forward, and will do everything we can to that end. Within our client-facing portal, we include a daily listing of court closures/delays to keep you informed, but are happy to answer any questions you may have about your criminal record requests. Please feel free to reach out to us at support@acheckglobal.com. Your business means the world to us, and we look forward to meeting your needs.

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Compliance Clips for July 2020

DATA SECURITY LEGISLATION

New Zealand: New Privacy Bill Effective December 1, 2020
New Zealand’s parliament recently passed a modern version of privacy bill to replace the previous New Zealand Privacy Act. The bill is a new legal framework for the protection of information, including the introduction of a mandatory data breach notification. It received unanimous support in the parliament, and the bill—known as the New Zealand Privacy Act 2020—will become effective on December 1, 2020. This bill seeks to increase New Zealanders’ confidence that their personal information is secure and will be treated properly.
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South Africa: New Privacy Law Now Effective
South Africa’s privacy law known as the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (the POPIA) becomes effective July 1, 2020, providing detailed legislation supporting right to privacy. The POPIA provides for a general information protection mechanism applicable to organizations in both the public and private sectors. Similar to EU’s GDPR, POPIA establishes specific conditions for lawful processing of data.
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Happy Birthday, GDPR
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) recently turned two years old, and we’ve all learned a thing or two about preparing for, and complying with evolving data security legislation. GDPR has also done much to elevate overall focus on privacy compliance.
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I-9 COMPLIANCE

A Reminder: Compliance with Form I-9 and E-Verify Requirements in Light of COVID-19
While we shared this information previously, there has been an additional update in light of ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes. UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, it has been announced that remote I-9 document review has been extended for another 30 days; the original exemption was set to expire June 18, 2020. The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Virginia: New Legislation Decriminalizes Simple Marijuana Possession
Now effective as of July 1, 2020, Virginia legislation decriminalizes possession, and prohibits employers from requiring applicants to disclose information related to past criminal possession charges.
READ MORE

Arizona: Growing Support for Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure
Is Arizona next? In a survey of likely voters, about two-thirds showed support for placing a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot this November. In the poll, which was conducted from May 18-22, the legalization initiative was positioned as a measure making it legal for adults 21 and older to purchase and possess cannabis and also impose taxes on legal sales. 400 respondents were asked if they would vote yes or no on the proposal.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX

St. Louis, Missouri: Ban the Box Legislation Passes
Beginning January 1, 2021, employers with ten or more employees, located within the City of St. Louis will be prohibited from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on the employment application. Once the law takes effect, employers may not base a hiring or promotional decision on the criminal history, or sentence, of an applicant unless 1) the history is found to be reasonably related to, or bearing upon, the duties and responsibilities of the position; and 2) the employer can demonstrate that the decision is based on all available information.
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Suffolk County, New York: Ban the Box Legislation Passes
Suffolk County soon will follow the trend of other state and local governments enacting “ban the box” legislation. The Suffolk County, New York, Legislature has passed the “Fair Employment Screening Amendment,” prohibiting the County or any other employer having at least 15 employees from asking job applicants about their prior criminal convictions until after the first interview. The Amendment will go into effect on August 25, 2020.
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SALARY HISTORY

Maryland: Upcoming Prohibition Against Wage History Inquiries
Maryland employers, get ready for new employment laws: Prohibition against facial recognition technology, salary history ban, and more. With regard to salary history ban, employers in Maryland should assess their hiring processes to ensure they do not request wage history information from applicants once the new law goes into effect on October 1, 2020.  Additionally, employers should ensure that applicants who request wage range information for the position to which they are applying are able to obtain such information once the new law is in effect.
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Questions? We’re here to help!

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Feds Grant Another 30-Day Extension for Remote I-9 Document Review

We previously noted in May that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had extended the flexibility policy in complying with requirements related to Form I-9’s section 2 (in-person employment eligibility verification) due to COVID-19.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, it has been announced that remote I-9 document review has been extended for another 30 days; the original exemption was set to expire June 18, 2020.

The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes. However, in light of COVID-19, the government is suspending the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.

Once normal operations resume, employers must inspect documents in person and note “COVID-19” as the reason for the delay in the section’s “additional information” field, as well as “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to that field or Section 3 as appropriate, per ICE guidelines.

Please also keep in mind that this exception is only available to employers/workplaces currently operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no I-9 exceptions are currently implemented.

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Happy Birthday, Dear GDPR, Happy Birthday to You.

FeaturedHappy Birthday, Dear GDPR, Happy Birthday to You.

That’s right, Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) just turned two years old. Seems like just yesterday this new legislation was the hot topic, and organizations were spending big dollars and months of development resources to ensure they were in compliance. Many were sure these new data privacy regulations would trigger millions of dollars in big fines, and even jeopardize the existence of some companies doing business online.

Fast forward two years, and there’s a lot of online discussion about what exactly GDPR has done for data privacy and the way companies look at their own roles in protecting consumer information. We haven’t seen the level of immense fines everyone anticipated, but GDPR has done much to elevate overall focus on compliance.

Consumers have greater awareness of how their information is used/shared

It’s been a long and slowly increasing trend, but consumer awareness about data privacy is gaining momentum. GDPR has helped by further bringing to light the way businesses gather personal information, the types of information they gather, and the rights consumers have over the protection of that data. In turn, companies doing business under GDPR are forced to handle that data with greater focus on compliance, including improved security controls and even adherence to guidelines that dictate how a company may use consumer data.

And yes, online consumers are also probably seeing a lot more website cookie messages these days. These messages aren’t the “be all, end all” of consumer education, but they are ongoing reminders to be increasingly aware of online privacy measures.

Other countries are aligning with GDPR legislation

By now, you’ve no doubt heard that many countries, states, and local governments are now aligning upcoming privacy laws with GDPR regulations. Here in the U.S., there is movement to further address data privacy at the federal level, and California’s new privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) became effective on January 1, 2020.

While the U.S., Brazil, and other countries working toward nationwide privacy laws aren’t necessarily developing mirror images of GDPR, they are working with the same general data privacy principles in mind.

Companies must adapt to growing data privacy regulations

Compliance with data law isn’t an option. Enforcement of privacy laws such as GDPR require companies to keep comprehensive compliance policies and procedures in place—and of equal importance, they must regularly review and improve upon those policies to remain current and compliant. Be it GDPR, CCPA, or perhaps even local law enacted in the future, companies have had to, and will need to continue their focus on data privacy and consumer education.

So, GDPR may only be two years old, but its impact is already proving to be far reaching and important legislation for both companies and consumers.

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Compliance Clips for June 2020

CONSUMER LEGISLATION

Heroes Act Amendment Awaits Consideration in the Senate
The Heroes Act includes a provision which would place a temporary moratorium on the ability of consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to furnish certain adverse information during major disasters, including during COVID-19. Section 110401 of the Heroes Act would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by adding, “No person may furnish any adverse item of information (except information related to a felony criminal conviction) relating to a consumer that was the result of any action or inaction that occurred during a covered period.”  A covered period could refer to COVID-19 and/or any major disaster or health emergency.
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Brazil: New Privacy Law Enforcement Likely Postponed in Response to COVID-19
Brazil’s General Data Protection Law (aka, the Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados and referred to as the “LGPD” in the Portuguese acronym) appeared ready to go into effect in August 2020. However, as Brazil has recently become a COVID-19 hot spot, on April 3, 2020, the Brazilian Senate approved Bill No. 1179/2020. This emergency measure postpones the effective date for the LGPD to January 2021, with sanctions and penalties enforceable only after August 2021.
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Maryland: Employers, Get Ready for New Employment Laws
Several new bills, including ones that prohibit use of facial recognition technology, wage history inquires, hairstyle discrimination, and revisions to the state’s mini-WARN act, recently became law when the deadline for their enactment passed without Governor Larry Hogan’s veto.  These laws will take effect beginning October 1, 2020.
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I-9 COMPLIANCE

A Reminder: Compliance with Form I-9 and E-Verify Requirements in Light of COVID-19
While we shared this information previously, it bears repeating in light of ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes. However, the government is suspending the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Virginia: New Legislation Decriminalizes Simple Marijuana Possession
Effective July 1, 2020, Virginia legislation decriminalizes possession, and prohibits employers from requiring applicants to disclose information related to past criminal possession charges. The law will take effect July 1, 2020.
READ MORE

Montana: Statewide Signature Drive for Marijuana Ballot Initiative
Montana’s Cannabis Legalization Campaign launched a signature drive—with careful attention to COVID-19 social distancing—to drive legislation toward a vote for cannabis legalization later this year, including the establishment of a system to regulate and tax cannabis for adult use, and authorization to set Montana’s legal age for marijuana consumption at 21.
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Minnesota: Legislation is Being Introduced to Legalize Marijuana
As states begin to move forward again amid the COVID-19 health emergency, Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler is introducing what he called “the best legalization bill in the country.” If passed as written, the bill would allow Minnesota adults 21 and older to possess and transport up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana (and 8 grams of cannabis concentrates) in public places and keep up to 10 pounds at their private residence. Adults could grow up to eight marijuana plants at home, up to four of which could be mature, flowering plants. Gifting small amounts to other adults would also be legal.
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Rochester, NY: Legislation is Being Considered to Stop Drug Testing Applicants
City Council is considering legislation that would drop pre-employment drug testing for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a compound found in marijuana. Exceptions would include those applying for public safety positions. Monroe County continues to screen for THC during pre-employment drug testing but these policies will be reviewed at some point given the shifting regulations nationally, and the potential legalization of marijuana in New York state.
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AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX

Suffolk County, New York: Ban the Box Legislation Passes
Suffolk County soon will follow the trend of other state and local governments enacting “ban the box” legislation. The Suffolk County, New York, Legislature has passed the “Fair Employment Screening Amendment,” prohibiting the County or any other employer having at least 15 employees from asking job applicants about their prior criminal convictions until after the first interview. The Amendment will go into effect on August 25, 2020.
READ MORE

SALARY HISTORY

Philadelphia: Employer Questions About Applicant’s Wage History Now Prohibited
Philadelphia was the first city to pass a law to ban employers from asking about the wage history of job applicants in 2018. Now that a federal court’s injunction has been lifted, the law is in effect as of May 8, 2020. Employers or employment agencies may not inquire about a prospective employee’s wage history, require disclosure of wage history, or condition employment or consideration for an interview on the disclosure of an applicant’s wage history. The law also prohibits retaliation against a prospective employee for failing to comply with any wage history inquiry.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

Feds Grant 30-Day Extension for Remote I-9 Document Review

In an earlier blog entry, we noted that the in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19.

UPDATE: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced remote I-9 document review has been extended for another 30 days; the original exemption was set to expire May 19, 2020.

The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes. However, in light of COVID-19, the government is suspending the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.

Once normal operations resume,​ employers must inspect documents in person and note “COVID-19” as the reason for the delay in the section’s “additional information” field, as well as “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to that field or Section 3 as appropriate, per ICE guidelines.

Please also keep in mind that this exception is only available to employers/workplaces currently operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no I-9 exceptions are currently implemented.

READ MORE

 

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Compliance Clips for May 2020

CONSUMER REPORTING

9th Circuit Case Addresses FCRA, Background Screening, and Rules on “Standalone” Disclosure
As class action lawsuits continue to gain momentum, employers should continue to be very aware of compliance surrounding Disclosure and Authorization forms related to background screening. With that said, on April 24, 2020, the 9th Circuit upheld the dismissal of a case arguing that an employer violates the FCRA (a) by providing an FCRA disclosure simultaneously with other employment materials, and (b) by failing to place a FCRA authorization on a standalone document. In this latest decision, the court held that the employer’s disclosure document satisfied the “standalone” requirement because that single-page document included nothing beyond disclosing an intent to obtain a background report, the employer’s logo, and a signature block. Moving forward, please consult with your legal resources to determine compliance of your Disclosure and Authorization forms.
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Compliance with Form I-9 and E-Verify Requirements in Light of COVID-19
While we shared this information previously, it bears repeating in light of ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes. However, the government is suspending the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Florida Medical Marijuana Users may Soon Become Protected Class
Both chambers of the Florida Legislature are currently considering proposed bills aimed at extending certain protections to Florida employees who are legal medical marijuana users — H.B. 595 and S.B. 962, which are collectively entitled the Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act. Both bills, if passed, would extend to both private- and public-sector employees (with the exception of safety sensitive positions) and employment applicants in Florida. If passed, one of the new rights these bills would provide to employees is the right to sue an employer if the employer takes an adverse employment action due to an employee’s status as a legal medical marijuana user.
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Utah State Legislature Clarifies: Private Employers Not Required to Accommodate Use of Medical Cannabis
The Utah State Legislature enacted Senate Bill 121, which amends and clarifies various provisions of Utah’s medical cannabis laws, including a pronouncement that private employers are not required to accommodate the use of medical cannabis. The key takeaway: private employers in Utah now definitively know that they are under no legal obligation to accommodate employee use of medical cannabis, either at the workplace or away from work. Employers that do not intend to accommodate the use of medical marijuana are advised to clearly communicate their policies so employees are aware that the use of marijuana, medical or otherwise, violates company policy.
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New Jersey: Failed Drug Test not Enough to Dismiss Claim of Disability Discrimination
In a recent employee-friendly trend, various courts have found that employers discriminate against certified medical marijuana users when adverse employment actions are taken against them solely because of failed drug tests. This certainly means employers should consider assessing their current policies and procedures.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX

Lawsuit against Waterloo’s ‘Ban the Box’ is dismissed
The City of Waterloo, Iowa announced that the lawsuit filed against the Fair Chance Initiative (Ban the Box) has been dismissed. Under the city ordinance, scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2020, employers will no longer be allowed to have a criminal history box on applications, and cannot ask about criminal history during the hiring process. However, employers can still do background checks on applicants.
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SALARY HISTORY

States and localities that have outlawed pay history questions
State and local governments are increasingly adopting laws and regulations that prohibit employers from requesting salary history information from job applicants. In fact, there currently are 18 state-wide salary bans in place, and another 21 cities/jurisdictions who have salary history ban legislation. As a reminder, we’re reposting a great site that lists them all, including recent additions and upcoming bans:
Colorado: January 1, 2021
St. Louis, Missouri: March, 2020
Cincinnati, Ohio: March, 2020 (estimated)
Toledo, Ohio: June, 2020
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

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The New Normal: Hiring and Onboarding Employees Remotely During COVID-19

For organizations worldwide, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a swift shift to a new normal. In part, that likely means keeping business as usual by transitioning to hiring and onboarding employees remotely. The fundamentals of hiring remain the same, and the goal is always to make great hires. That said, there’s never been a better time to take a look at your procedures and ensure you’re discovering good people, making them feel like they’re a part of your company’s big picture, and giving them the tools to succeed—regardless of whether they ultimately work inside or outside of your office.

Be creative in discovering your next great candidate

As a result of COVID-19, there are a LOT of candidates looking for their next opportunity to contribute. Your job is to find an efficient way to sort through a growing stack of applications and find the ones you’ll likely interview.

First step? Consider finding a free moment to take a look at your application. Are you simply asking “yes/no” questions, or are you also asking deeper, open-ended questions—questions that allow your potential candidates to really paint a complete picture of who they are, where they’ve been, and most importantly, what they’re capable of achieving at your company? Perhaps go one step further and ask what interests them about your company, the open position, and more specifically, what they might accomplish once hired. Additional information can help considerably as you decide who to move forward in your process.

Be transparent during trying times

Once it’s time to reach out for introductions, remember that these are strange days. Chances are really good that you’re speaking with candidates who are feeling uncertain about their professional future. You may speak to a recent graduate who is unsure how to land a first opportunity during COVID-19, or you may be connecting with candidates who have lost long-standing jobs.

Now is the time to be transparent. Be very honest and open with your candidates about your company’s efforts to protect both the business and the safety of the employees. Share with them the realistic timeline for remotely hiring and onboarding new employees. Clear and authentic communication can put candidates at ease during this time, and even give them greater confidence in your company.

Take advantage of tech

It’s no secret that the video format is taking over. From virtual proms, to family gatherings and holidays, we are growing more comfortable communicating “on-screen.” As you move forward with interviews, video chat apps are a good alternative to conducting phone interviews. Honestly, it’s not as easy to pick up on non-verbal cues when you’re not sitting in front of a candidate. But through video, you can get a general sense for how they present themselves, and how they show enthusiasm for you, your company, and the potential role.

Collaborate with IT for success

If you aren’t best friends with your IT team, there’s never been a better time to introduce yourself. Hiring remotely can present a long list of challenges . . . many of them technical. There’s nothing more off-putting than stalling an interview or training session because your microphone isn’t working.

Work closely with your IT team to evaluate the tools and resources you have in place, and where you can quickly and effectively improve things to benefit your candidate’s experience. And remember, the onboarding experience is more than the video interview. Be sure to collaborate with IT to ensure that your training program and other onboarding tasks can also successfully be administered remotely.

Get your candidate’s team involved

Whether your candidate will work remotely or in your offices, it’s important to immediately provide a sense of teamwork. Even when hiring remotely, there are opportunities to find candidates who will thrive when contributing to a team atmosphere.

Whenever possible, include your candidate’s future teammates in the interview process. With the success of video chat software, this is now more possible than ever before. It’s not much of an issue to set up conversations between people in multiple locations and across different time zones. No need to get everyone traveling to numerous office interviews. Even better, it allows candidates to quickly meet and get to know team members they will be working with before accepting an offer.

Introduce them to the big picture and make sure they’re interested

It probably goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Since your candidates are getting introduced to you and your company without visiting your offices, it’s important to spend a little time with the big picture. Open a dialogue to find out just how truly interested in your company the candidate is, and if they seem driven to contribute to what your company is accomplishing. Let them know what success looks like for your open position, and what will be asked of them to achieve that success. With smart questions, you’ll be well on your way to finding the right person for the job.

Show flexibility when onboarding

As you’re making great hires during COVID-19, you’re probably noticing that the onboarding process requires a little flexibility. The first days and weeks are critical as you introduce your employees to their teams, company culture, product information, benefits, etc. During this time, video conferencing can play an immense role in the process. Now is also a good time to take a look at the effectiveness of welcome packages and other introductory communication you present.

During this time, you may not have opportunity to meet face to face with your new employees, so it’s critical that you go the extra mile to make sure your they feel as connected to their new company as possible.

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Guidance from DOT’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) during COVID-19

The Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance released guidance regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on processes and compliance related to DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing requirements.

This information is specific to:

  1. performing remote evaluations by Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP), and,
  2. the re-qualification timelines for collectors, Medical Review Officers (MRO), Screening Test Technicians (STT) and Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT), and SAPs.

This information is effective while there is a determination that COVID-19 presents a health emergency, or through June 30, 2020, whichever is sooner.

FOR DETAILS, please read the full statement. In short:

SAP Assessments and Evaluations

ODAPC recognizes that conducting face-to-face assessments and evaluations during the COVID-19 public health emergency may not be possible or advisable for certain individuals. ODAPC would allow SAPs to conduct a remote face-to-face evaluation and assessment (under statement parameters like two-way audio and visual technology that offers quality and clarity to read non-verbal physical cues) while this policy is in effect. ODAPC will not consider an evaluation or assessment performed remotely as an act of serious non-compliance for purposes of starting a public interest exclusion proceeding against the service agent while this statement of enforcement discretion is in effect.

Re-qualification Timelines for Certain Service Agents

If a service agent is unable to meet their re-qualification due date while this statement of enforcement discretion is in effect, the Department will not consider it a non-compliance for purposes of starting a public interest exclusion proceeding against the service agent.  The Department is providing this flexibility for service agents that cannot meet their re-qualification requirements by their respective due dates due to restrictions imposed by Federal, State and local authorities, and health agencies related to the COVID-19 national emergency (e.g., facility closures, State or locally imposed quarantine requirements, or other impediments).

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Drug Screening Precautions for Candidates Visiting Patient Service Centers

Throughout the ongoing fight to overcome COVID-19, screening laboratories and their Patient Service Centers have shown great commitment to the safety of their employees as well as candidates visiting locations nationwide to undergo drug screening collection. Employers can rest assured that efforts are in place to help make candidate experiences as safe as possible:

Patient Service Centers do Not Collect/Process COVID-19 Specimens
For the protection of candidates, Patient Service Centers do not collect or process COVID-19 test specimens. Anyone who has reason to suspect they have COVID-19 should immediately reach out to their doctor or healthcare provider for advice on where to get tested in their specific community.

Service Center Hours for High-Risk/Vulnerable Candidates
Please note that older candidates, or those with special medical conditions that put them at greater risk for COVID-19, have options. Patient Service Centers offer early hour availability each business day to serve with VIP care. While nobody will be turned away during these early appointments, the intent of this action is to provide protection to our communities while also offering a little peace of mind to those vulnerable candidates accessing Patient Service Centers for drug screening collection.

Wait for Your Appointment Where Comfortable
To best comply with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for social distancing, Patient Service Centers offer options for candidates to check in and then wait in their vehicle or a nearby location for their appointment. Candidates can be alerted via text message or phone call when a technician is available to see them.

Safety at Patient Service Centers
In addition to social distancing efforts, technicians and facilities have strengthened their already-rigorous hygiene practices, including more frequent hand washing and disinfection/sanitation schedules, and ongoing COVID-19 education and training. Many, if not the majority of Patient Service Centers, may now also require candidates to wear face masks when visiting.

Please let us know if you have any questions about your Drug Screening program during this time of heightened precaution.

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Compliance Clips for April 2020

CONSUMER REPORTING

Compliance with Form I-9 and E-Verify Requirements in Light of COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19.The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes. However, in light of COVID-19–the government is suspending the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

House and Senate Bills Introduced to Amend FCRA in Response to COVID-19
On March 17, 2020, the United States Senate introduced a bill to amend the Fair Credit Report Act, preventing negative credit reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 23, 2020, the United States House of Representatives introduced a similar bill.  “The Disaster Protection for Workers’ Credit Act” seek to place a four-month moratorium on all negative credit reporting.
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SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Marijuana Legislation: Coming Soon to the Southeast?
The 2020 state legislative sessions are underway across the country and a hot topic in many states is medical marijuana. Last year, Alabama was poised to become the first Deep South state to enact a medical marijuana law. The Alabama legislature ultimately tabled the issue until the 2020 legislative session. Now, the Alabama Legislature is considering Senate Bill 165 (AL-SB165), which would create the Compassion Act to legalize medical marijuana in Alabama. The Kentucky legislature is considering House Bill 136 (KY-HB136), which would legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky. Finally, Mississippi voters will soon have the opportunity to vote on whether to amend the state constitution to allow medical marijuana.
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Recent DOT Guidance on Drug and Alcohol Testing During COVID-19
Monday, March 23, 2020: the United States Department of Transportation issued guidance for DOT-regulated employers, employees, and their service agents that might be facing challenges in meeting the department’s drug and alcohol testing requirements due to the pandemic. While DOT-regulated employers remain obligated to comply with applicable DOT training and testing requirements, this guidance addresses optional best practices if collection sites and related services are unavailable.
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New Jersey: Medical Marijuana Industry Advocates Recommend Legislation Changes
The state Health Department amended the medical marijuana program to serve patients and inhibit the spread of the coronavirus by letting dispensaries make curbside sales. As an upcoming change, Attorney Bill Caruso, a founding member of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, expressed optimism that support for home cultivation would also grow.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

DATA PRIVACY

Seven Coronavirus Scams Targeting Your Business
Please know that businesses are at risk, too. Keep your guard up against these seven B2B scams that try to exploit companies’ concerns about COVID-19.
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SALARY HISTORY

States and Localities that have Outlawed Pay History Questions
State and local governments are increasingly adopting laws and regulations that prohibit employers from requesting salary history information from job applicants. In fact, there currently are 18 state-wide salary bans in place, and another 21 cities/jurisdictions who have salary history ban legislation. To keep it all top of mind, here’s a great site that lists them all, including recent additions, and upcoming bans:
Colorado: January 1, 2021
St. Louis, Missouri: March, 2020
Cincinnati, Ohio: March, 2020 (estimated)
Toledo, Ohio: June, 2020
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

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Temporary Flexibility of Form I-9 Requirements in Response to COVID-19

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently announced temporary flexibility in compliance with Form I-9 requirements during remote on-boarding. The article link below gives specific info on how employers with remote employees can obtain, remotely inspect, and comply with Section 2 of Form I-9.

Here’s a quick read on the latest developments:

  1. The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended for companies closed or working remotely due to COVID-19. Employers will not be required to review employee identity and related documents in the employee’s physical presence. Instead, inspection of Section 2 documents will take place remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.).
  2. Employers must still create a case in E-Verify within three business days from the date of hire. “COVID-19” is entered as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 Additional Information field once physical inspection takes place after normal operations resume.
  3. Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9, or to section 3 as appropriate.
  4. Once normal operations resume, all employees on-boarded using remote verification must—within three business days—complete in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

For your reference, here is further detail. PLEASE READ MORE. Drop an email to support@acheckglobal.com if you have any questions.

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Compliance Clip March 2020

CREDIT CHECKS

House Passes Bill Restricting Employer Credit Checks

The House of Representatives passed the Comprehensive CREDIT Act of 2020, which would change federal laws pertaining to consumer reporting agencies and credit checks in a number of ways. Significantly for employers, the Act includes an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which would restrict the use of credit information for most employment decisions. PLEASE NOTE: The Act now heads to the Senate where it is unlikely to pass in its current form . . . we’ll monitor and keep you updated.
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SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

NEW YORK City Employers Must Say Bye-Bye to Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing
A common onboarding practice is about to become illegal in New York City. Effective May 10, 2020, most New York City employers will be prohibited from requiring job applicants to undergo testing for marijuana. The new law makes mandatory marijuana testing of prospective employees equivalent to an unlawful discriminatory practice, such as denying a job applicant employment because of his or her race, gender, or any other protected characteristic.
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Department of Transportation Cautions Employers About CBD Use by Regulated Workers
If a CBD product has a concentration of more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an amount generally viewed to be sufficient to produce a psychoactive effect, then it is an unlawful Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. Problems arise when employees test positive for THC but then claim to be using a “THC-free” or “pure CBD” product.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX LAW

NEW ENGLAND Ban the Box Trend: Navigating Criminal History Checks in the Hiring Process
Many states and localities have been adopting Ban the Box, prohibiting employers (including private employers) from asking applicants to disclose information concerning their criminal histories prior to an initial interview or a conditional offer of employment. Currently, all New England states except Maine and New Hampshire have a Ban the Box law that is applicable to private employers.  Bills that would have applied Ban the Box to private employers in both Maine and New Hampshire died in last year’s legislative sessions, but there is a good chance that similar legislation will resurface.
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DATA PRIVACY

WISCONSIN Proposes “Groundbreaking” Data Privacy Law Modeled After GDPR
A trio of consumer data privacy bills modeled after Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been introduced in the Wisconsin State Assembly. The three bills, collectively dubbed the Wisconsin Data Privacy Act (WDPA), were sponsored by Republican State Representative Shannon Zimmerman, who is seeking to make Wisconsin “the most consumer-friendly state in our nation on data privacy.” If enacted, the WDPA would take effect July 31, 2022.
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State Consumer Privacy Law Round-Up
As the likelihood of the federal government passing a timely, workable national consumer privacy law before the November election decreases, states from coast to coast have been busy. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, over 150 new consumer privacy bills were introduced in 25 states and Puerto Rico in 2019. This link is a comprehensive summary of privacy bills introduced thus far in 2020:
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SALARY HISTORY

Ninth Circuit Reaffirms Only Job-Related Factors Will Excuse Pay Disparity Under Federal EPA, Prior Salary Not Job-Related
On February 27, 2020, the Ninth Circuit issued a long-anticipated decision.  The appellate court affirmed its prior holding and concluded that: (1) only job-related factors may excuse wage disparities between comparable employees within the context of a federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) claim, and (2) prior salary, alone or in consideration with other factors, is not job-related, and therefore cannot serve as an affirmative defense to an EPA claim.
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Questions? We’re here to help!