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.

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!





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!

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!

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.