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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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

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.
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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.
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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.
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Questions? We’re here to help.

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