Compliance Clips for August 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

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 August 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

CRIMINAL HISTORY REPORTING

Louisiana
Effective August 1, 2021, Act No. 406 impacts employers conducting background screening prior to a job offer by prohibiting the request or consideration of an arrest record or charge that did not result in a conviction when a background check reveals that information. This legislation also requires employers to individually assess a candidate’s criminal history and determine if the outcome is directly or adversely related to specific duties of potential employment.
READ MORE

Criminal Record Screening Policy Review
Now more than ever before, it’s important for employers to review their criminal record screening policies. It’s a balance between compliance with evolving laws, and risk mitigation in hiring practices. Class action plaintiffs’ attorneys have had some high-profile success negotiating settlements, and Ban the Box legislation continues momentum in a growing number of states. Now, when it comes to litigation against background screening efforts, courts can hold that employers are required to prove their criminal record screening policies are not just appropriate as a business necessity, but also prove that these policies accurately distinguish between applicants that do and do not pose an unacceptable level of risk. While we are here to answer any questions you may have, we also strongly recommend you have legal counsel available to guide your screening program decisions.
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New York City
Effective July 29, 2021, New York City’s Fair Chance Act expands the scope of protection for applicants and employees with criminal histories. The FCA prohibits employers from denying employment based on an arrest or criminal accusation by expanding protection to prohibit any inquiry in writing or otherwise about a candidate’s arrest or criminal accusation. These amendments also offer additional candidate protection by expanding the list of information that employers are prohibited from considering, adding additional processes employers must take when presented with certain criminal information, and further clarifying other employer obligations under the Fair Chance Process. Here’s a great read on these amendments.
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SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Connecticut
The Connecticut Governor signed Senate Bill 1201—effective in 2022—making CT the 19th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older, but will allow employers to continue implementing drug-free employment policies.  This new law will require expungement of certain existing marijuana convictions, but also creates employment protections for recreational marijuana users. That said, employers are permitted to continue prohibiting employees from engaging in the recreational use of marijuana, subject to certain statutory requirements.
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.

DATA PRIVACY

Colorado
Colorado is the second state this year to pass a law making it easier for consumers to protect personal data online. Colorado’s Privacy Act follows Virginia’s Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Among other things, Colorado’s legislation gives consumers the right to opt-out of targeted advertising and the sale of personal data. It also gives consumers the right to access, correct, and delete personal data collected, provides the right to obtain a copy of personal data in a portable format. Additionally, Colorado’s Act requires that consumers have the ability to opt-out via a universal channel that meets established technical specifications.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

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.

Compliance Clips for July 2021

I-9 COMPLIANCE

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 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, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now August 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

Alabama
Governor Kay Ivey recently signed Alabama’s medical marijuana law, making Alabama the 37th state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. That said, employers are still permitted to establish drug testing and drug-free workplace policies. This new law identifies qualifying medical conditions, including but not limited to autism spectrum disorder (ASD); cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; depression; epilepsy or a condition causing seizures; and HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss. With recently granted access to medical marijuana, this law will not impose new obligations on employers.
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Montana
Montana has legalized marijuana for recreational use, and employers will be prohibited from taking adverse action against employees for lawful use of marijuana outside of work. New law amends the Montana definition of “lawful products” to now include marijuana. That said, employers can continue drug-free workplace policies.
READ MORE

Philadelphia
The city of Philadelphia recently passed an ordinance prohibiting employers from requiring candidates to submit to pre-employment marijuana testing as a condition of employment, effective January 1, 2022. However, this ordinance does not prohibit pre-employment testing of certain types of employees, including police and other law enforcement positions, any position requiring a commercial driver’s license, and any position that requires the supervision or care of children, medical patients, disabled people, and other vulnerable persons.
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SALARY DISCLOSURE

Connecticut
On June 7, Connecticut’s Governor signed House Bill Number 6380, requiring employers to disclose to applicants and employees the salary ranges for positions. This law also expands prohibition of gender-based pay discrimination. Under this new law, employers are prohibited from failing or refusing to provide the wage range for a position upon an applicant’s request, or for an employee’s position upon the employee’s request. Employers are recommended to consider implementing policies and practices to comply with the new law by its October 1, 2021 effective date.
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DATA PRIVACY

Colorado
Colorado has become the third state in the country to pass a comprehensive data privacy law, joining California and Virginia. The Colorado Privacy Act (CPA) will be effective on July 1, 2023. Similar in nature to California and Virginia privacy laws, the CPA provides extended privacy rights to Colorado consumers: (1) the right to opt out of certain processing of personal data; (2) the right to access personal data; (3) the right to correct inaccurate personal data; (4) the right to delete personal data; and (5) the right to data portability. And, it imposes greater duties on the controllers and processors of those organizations collecting personal data.
READ MORE

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania introduced HB-1126, the Consumer Data Privacy Act (CDPA), creating duty for businesses to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices surrounding the protection of consumer information. And, under the CDPA’s private right of action, consumers may obtain statutory damages of not less than $100 but not more than $750 per consumer per incident, actual damages, and injunctive or declaratory relief.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

UPDATE: Michigan Supreme Court Issues Order to Delay PII Redaction Rule

A-Check Global has been keeping a close eye on recent Michigan legislation that proposed removing the date of birth (DOB) and other certain identifiers—Social Security and Driver’s License Numbers, for example—from court records. Initially, Michigan was moving forward with a July 1, 2021 effective date for this rule. However, today the Michigan Supreme Court issued an order that delays implementation of this rule, and the implementation date has been changed from July 1, 2021 until January 1, 2022.

How would PII redaction impact A-Check criminal record searches in Michigan?

A-Check has not changed our standard processes for criminal record searches. Prior to presenting permissible results to our clients, we still require 3 identifiers to authenticate the identity of search information. If and when Michigan implements a redaction rule, A-Check will continue to serve our clients to the best of our ability.

We’re here to help answer any questions you may have.

In 2020, Marijuana Drug Testing Positivity Continued to Increase Among U.S. Workers

Quest Diagnostics—A-Check’s drug screening partner and a leading provider of diagnostic services—released their 2020 Drug Testing Index. It is thought to be the first large-scale national analysis of U.S. workforce drug testing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes findings from more than 9 million drug tests performed throughout 2020.

In general, the reported positivity for most drug categories—with the exception of marijuana—remained fairly flat, or somewhat declined, in the combined U.S. workforce. Overall, it was down slightly in 2020 (at 4.4%) compared to 2019 (4.5%). Throughout the safety-sensitive, federally mandated U.S. workforce (based on more than 2 million drug tests), positive drug test results declined from 2.4% in 2019 to 2.2% in 2020.

While COVID-19 altered the workforce landscape last year, the increasing positivity trend in marijuana testing continued, in part due to state-by-state legislation regarding adult medical or recreational use legalization. In the U.S. general workforce, marijuana positivity increased in urine testing (3.1% in 2019 versus 3.6% in 2020), in oral fluid testing (9.1% in 2019 versus 12.3% in 2020) and in hair testing (7.1% in 2019 versus 8.7% in 2020). Worth noting, especially as many companies are now initiating plans to return employees to the office. It’s important for employers to continue considering workforce drug testing as a key effort in maintaining workplace and employee safety.

Here are just a few findings from Quest:

  • While positivity is down for most drug categories, it increased very slightly for ecstasy—an increase from 0.008% in 2019 to 0.010% in 2020. Still, this represents a very low positivity number of 1 in every 10,000 tests overall.
  • Positivity rates declined in federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce testing categories. Cocaine declined to 0.25% positivity in 2019 versus 0.20% in 2020. Opiates represent a similar positivity decline from 0.26% in 2019 to 0.21% in 2020. In this category, positivity for marijuana did decline very slightly (0.88% in 2019 versus 0.79% in 2020).
  • Marijuana continued increases in the general U.S. workforce, with lower positivity rates in states with only medical marijuana use or no form of legalized marijuana use versus states with legalized recreational statutes.
  • The marijuana positivity rate of post-accident test results grew faster than the rate for pre-employment testing. In 2012 (when the first state legalized marijuana), Pre-employment marijuana positivity was 1.9% and post-accident positivity as 2.4%. Fast forward to 2020, pre-employment marijuana positivity reached 3.7% while post-accident positivity surged to 6.4%.
  • Cocaine positivity was the lowest since 2012 in the general U.S. workforce, falling to 0.22% in 2020 versus 0.27% in 2019.
  • Workforce positivity increased significantly in multiple industries with the Retail Trade sector continuing to top the list. For example, the Accommodations and Food Service category had the highest workforce positivity for marijuana at 6.3%.
  • More Quest insight can be found online within their 2020 Drug Testing Index.

Let’s work together for the continued safety of your workplace

Based on the potential for drug abuse due to ongoing COVID uncertainty, as well as personal and professional life stress, it stands to reason that you continue your company’s focus on workplace safety, as well as all employee health concerns.

Whether you are maintaining a remote workforce well into the future, have begun bringing employees back into the office, or are implementing a business plan that builds on a hybrid workforce (as so many now are choosing to do), screening your employees for substance abuse can greatly help ensure you’re doing all you can to promote a safe workplace and healthy, productive team members.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your options, what you currently might have in place, or to help you build an effective, compliant drug screening program for your company. We’re here to help, and as always, truly appreciate your call and your business.