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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.
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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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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.
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Questions? We’re here to help!

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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.
READ MORE

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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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.