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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.
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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.
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

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.
READ MORE

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.
READ MORE

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.
READ MORE

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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Featured

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

Featured

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.

Featured

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.
READ MORE

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.
READ MORE

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.
READ MORE

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.
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

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.
READ MORE

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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