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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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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.
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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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Featured

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.
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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.
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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

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!

Featured

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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