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UPDATE: Court of Appeal Ruling will Continue Delays for CA Criminal Background Checks

As you likely know, courts across a number of California counties are now redacting date of birth from court cases reported via public indexes (online and public access terminals). Additionally—as we are now seeing in Los Angeles County—court clerks are facing restrictions against providing assistance to verify full dates of birth during criminal record checks. This negatively impacts a court researcher’s ability to quickly and accurately verify name/case matches—resulting in A-Check clients experiencing significant delays in county court searches throughout the state of California.

So, why the delay? In May, 2021, a case decision in All of Us or None vs. Hamrick provided direction for the removal of critical personal information—date of birth and/or driver license number—from public facing criminal court records. This case alleged that Riverside County allowed users of the Riverside Superior Court’s public website to search for criminal records by inputting a defendant’s date of birth, directly compromising the privacy of those involved in criminal proceedings. While this lawsuit was brought only against the Riverside Superior Court, it ultimately impacted most California state courts.

In September 2021, the California Supreme Court denied review in the matter, allowing—for now—the continuation of this information redaction. This denial by the California Supreme Court means that criminal record checks in California will continue to become more difficult, and in some cases impossible.

At A-Check Global, we know and understand this is extremely challenging for our valued clients. We will continue to work toward any and all potential opportunities for resolution—while also having full awareness that a solution may not be available in the near future. Furthermore, we anticipate that while this is limited to a select number of California counties, it is likely additional counties will adopt similar action.

We will continue to serve our clients by taking all possible steps to accurately match candidates to criminal records. For now, files with a possible match (as a combination of name and year or month/year of birth) will be noted with an extended turnaround time (TAT) and A-Check will continue to serve you to the best of our ability.

Additionally, there is activity within the background screening industry to find a viable solution to this situation. The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) Government Relations Date-of-Birth Redaction Task Force is currently executing two potential alternative paths to resolution:

  1. Work with the California Judicial Council to modify the rule.
  2. Create a legislative campaign to introduce statutory changes that requires the Judicial Council to modify the rule.

We’re here to help answer any questions you may have. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Featured

Client Update: Some CA Counties Removing Date of Birth from Public Court Case Indexes

Los Angeles County UPDATE: July 26, 2021 (see below)

A-Check is following recent news that a number of California counties are removing (or have already removed) the DOB from public court case indexes, in response to a legal decision against the Riverside Superior Court where the judge ruled that court records are improperly maintained.

As a result, public facing court research within impacted counties is “name match only,” “name and YOB only” and in some counties the public access option has been removed altogether, forcing researchers to rely on clerks for searches which could previously be performed online.  Consumer Reporting Agencies like A-Check are required to perform additional research to further confirm and validate cases. As you might guess, this causes increased or indefinite delay in completing criminal record searches because A-Check requires 3 identifiers to authenticate the identity of search information.

In light of these developments—and as additional counties may begin to follow this direction—A-Check will work closely with courts as we continue to serve all clients to the best of our ability.

IMPACTED COUNTIES

Fresno
, Kern – Search conducted by name only. All name matches require clerk assistance, and delays expected (and noted within candidate files) for search results.

Riverside – Search conducted by name only. All name matches require clerk assistance, and delays expected (and noted within candidate files) for search results.

Ventura – Ability to search by name online has been altogether removed from the online index. This county is now fully clerk assisted, and researchers are currently restricted from courts. We are reaching out daily to determine how they intend to assist with the data, and delays are noted within candidate files for search results.

ADDITIONAL IMPACTED COUNTIES (Now or in the near future)

Santa Clara
Tulare
Yuba
San Bernardino

UPDATE:

The Los Angeles Public Access site now restricts research filtering by name and year of birth only. A-Check researchers will need to verify DOB first to confirm a full name/DOB birth match before requesting court documents. As you might imagine, clerks already have severe COVID-19 restrictions regarding public contact. They will now be managing DOB verification requests in additional to existing workloads. Files with a possible match will be noted with an extended TAT and A-Check will continue to adjust as we refine our process with clerks in this high-volume county.

If you have any questions about this information, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here and always happy to help.

Featured

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.

A Focus on Return to Office: A-Check Global COVID-19 Testing Options for Your Workforce

FeaturedA Focus on Return to Office: A-Check Global COVID-19 Testing Options for Your Workforce

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.

While granted, it’s not quite yet a universal movement, we do speak every day with clients who are looking for resources to help them transition employees back to their physical workplaces, This not only means revising guidelines to help maintain safe, healthy offices, but perhaps also implementing COVID-19 testing as a critical element of return to office efforts.

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.

COVID-19 Rapid Infection At-Home Collection

Through A-Check’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we offer an at-home swab collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.

This anterior nares (nasal) swab collection kit, which is authorized by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), allows your employees to self-collect a sample to then be tested at a Quest laboratory. This test is used to screen for COVID-19.

Your employees have a convenient option to collect an upper respiratory nasal sample at home using the collection kit sent directly via express delivery at no additional charge to them. Detailed instructions on how to collect a sample are included in the collection kit. Also included in this at-home kit are a prepaid overnight shipping label and envelope that your employees can use to securely ship the sample to a Quest laboratory for COVID-19 testing.

Your employees are alerted when test results are ready (typically within 24-48 hours) and have secure access to the patient-friendly report. Additionally, your administrators can securely review and verify employee participation, status, and results online.

Additional COVID-19 Screening and Testing Services

Through our partnership with Concentra, we also offer initial screening using a COVID-19 Assessment. A clinician reviews your employee’s responses to determine if the employee may go to the office or if testing for active COVID-19 infection, testing for COVID-19 antibodies, or an in-person clinical examination is recommended.

  • COVID-19 Antibody Test – Initial: includes comprehensive screening and tests employees for possible COVID-19 immunity
  • COVID-19 RNA Test – Initial: includes comprehensive screening and tests employees for active COVID-19 infection
  • COVID-19 RNA Test – Surveillance: includes ongoing screening and testing of employees for active COVID-19 infection

Your employee’s COVID-19 status will be assessed by experienced clinicians who apply their medical knowledge and experience to evaluate the risk of each individual employee and the risk to the workforce.

You have the added assurance that services will be delivered consistently from more than 520 Concentra medical centers nationwide. We are more than happy to help you identify locations closest to your employees.

Who Should Get Tested?

While effective testing is essential in helping slow COVID-19 spread by identifying and isolating those with active infections, it’s also critical to make sure tests are distributed and implemented efficiently. That is, not everyone needs or should be getting tested. COVID-19 testing may be an option for those who:

  • Are required to perform COVID-19 testing to meet school, workforce, or travel requirements.
  • Are identified by an employer, public health department, contact investigator, or healthcare provider as someone who should get tested.
  • Have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Live or work in a place where people reside, meet, or gather in close proximity.
  • Currently have symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath, and/or loss of taste or smell (typical symptoms).
  • Are trying to determine if a prior infection with COVID-19 has resolved.

We are committed to the health and safety of our valued clients.

For more information, pricing, and to place an immediate order:
Contact Us
acheckorders@acheckglobal.com
877-345-2021

Featured

Celebrating 50 Years of the FCRA

Perhaps it went a little unnoticed by many, but let’s take just a moment now to acknowledge that the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)—the nation’s first consumer financial privacy statute—recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The FCRA was designed to regulate the practices of consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) that collect and process information into reports used by businesses to make informed financial or employment decisions about consumers. Since 1970, the law has been an immense benefit to consumers, and will continue to ensure covered entities honor their legal obligations. Likewise, it will also require ongoing review to address the evolving economic landscape.

There have been many additional developments to the FCRA over the years, but three important features are as applicable today as they were decades ago during its introduction:

  • The law was constructed to regulate the efficiency of the nation’s consumer credit reporting organizations, drastically reducing the amount of time it took credit applications to be reviewed and processed.
  • The FCRA included legislation specifically designed to improve accuracy and integrity of information presented in consumer reports.
  • And third, it set important—and evolving—provisions to minimize risk of misuse by specifically limiting private consumer information access to only those with a legitimate, permissible purpose to access it.
    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. Because we’re committed to compliant business practice, we keep a close eye on our own efforts while processing your requests—and are equally committed to our clients’ compliance throughout their employment programs. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements to keep handy:

  • 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 we always welcome your questions.