Compliance Clips for February 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

FTC Settles Tenant Background Screening Company Claim
Welcome to 2021, where—no surprise—compliance is still just as important. The Federal Trade Commission has reached a $4.25 million settlement regarding alleged unfair or deceptive acts in connection with background screening reports. More specifically, 1) identifiers did not reasonably match the applicant, 2) inconsistencies existed in identifiers, 3) records did not accurately reflect offenses, and 4) multiple entries existed for criminal records. This particular complaint alleged that reasonable procedures were not in place to assure the accuracy of the criminal and eviction records obtained from a third party vendor for tenant background screening reports. While these screens were presented to landlords and property management companies, it also is a very important example to illustrate why everyone at A-Check is committed to ensuring we meet your organization’s screening requests with attention to compliant business practices.
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

Florida
Florida Public Employers: Every public employer, contractor, and subcontractor in Florida must now register with and use the E-Verify system to verify the work authorization status of all newly hired employees. E-Verify is the online system operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration that allows participating employers to electronically verify and confirm the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees. Both federal and Florida law prohibit employing individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States. Many states have legislation mandating E-Verify use, now including Florida.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

What We’re Watching: Potential Legislation
Looking ahead, New York, Connecticut, and Virginia might be three states likely to legalize marijuana in 2021. And 2020 national Gallup polling hits an all-time high with 68% in favor of U.S. legalization. Currently, 36 states have enacted medical cannabis legislation, with 15 also allowing for the adult-use consumption and/or retail sale of marijuana. Although 2021 isn’t a big year for elections, there are indications that New York, Connecticut, and Virginia may consider cannabis law this year.
READ MORE

Illinois
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently announced the forgiveness and expungement of about 500,000 criminal cannabis cases, as mandated by the Illinois law that legalized the licensed sale of marijuana starting in 2020. Pardons were issued for 9,210 low-level cannabis convictions, while Illinois State Police have wiped clean more than 492,000 non-felony cannabis-related arrest records. The intent of the law is to reduce the impact of the war on drugs on minorities, who were disproportionately arrested and locked up for cannabis crimes.
READ MORE

New Jersey
Although there have been delays in legislative action, and after voters approved legalization in November, the governor of New Jersey recently reaffirmed commitment to passing laws regarding marijuana. Lawmakers introduced marijuana legislation last November, soon after voters approved cannabis reform. However, since then, it’s been subject to a number of changes and delays in legislative action.
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

Nationwide
It’s now reported that as many as three-fourths of U.S. population lives within a Ban the Box jurisdiction. That’s nearly 40 states and 150+ cities and counties nationwide. Ban the Box legislation provides applicants a fair chance at employment by removing conviction and arrest history questions from job applications and delaying background checks until later in the hiring process, or even after a conditional offer has been made. We recently found a great site that clearly illustrates current states and localities with Ban the Box legislation in place.
READ MORE

DATA PRIVACY

New year, new privacy legislation. In 2021, we will likely see a wave of GDPR-like regulatory measures to address data protection and privacy around the world. With information security the focal point of a world that has made the shift to remote activity, this year may prove to be a year where countries not only catch up with their privacy legislation backlogs, but also work to enact 2021 privacy legislation. Here in the United States, three states (California, Nevada, and Maine) have enacted consumer privacy legislation, with 16 more introducing similar laws of their own. And, while there is federal law providing some degree of data protection, efforts are still being put forth to create an overarching framework to govern privacy law.
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 swab collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

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

A 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

Compliance Clips for January 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

FCRA Violation Finding
Another reminder regarding the importance of FCRA compliance: On November 12, 2020, Illinois-based a non-bank debt collector and furnisher of consumer information, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) entered into a Consent Order requiring that they take a number of affirmative actions to prevent future violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as well as pay a $500,000 civil money penalty for past violations, including consumer disclosure and communication.
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

Further 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 January 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

Virginia
On the heels of the November election, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a plan to establish a path toward marijuana legalization. However, it is assumed that legalizing recreational marijuana will likely be a lengthy process. If legislation passes, Virginia would join about a dozen other states and could become the first state in the South to legalize recreational marijuana. Currently, medical cannabis is legal in Virginia for certain patients.
READ MORE

New Jersey
Because legalized adult recreational use of cannabis is coming to New Jersey—as of January 1, 2021—employers will want to start considering steps toward compliance while proposed laws are in discussion. Here’s a good list of where to focus initial efforts. Specifically, hiring and adverse action guidance for employees based on cannabis use. Likewise, proposed law would permit employers to keep or establish drug and alcohol-free workplaces and employers would not have to permit or accommodate cannabis use in the workplace or during work hours.
READ MORE

Texas
In news we’re watching: Historically, Texas has taken a tough stance on marijuana possession, but Texas lawmakers will once again take another run at legislation to legalize marijuana when the legislature convenes in January, 2021. But while those who are pre-filing marijuana legalization bills have high hopes, most political pundits say they doubt that Texas will decriminalize marijuana in 2021.
READ MORE

Federal
The nation may be one step closer to federal decriminalization of cannabis. A House of Representatives vote, 228-164, removes marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, eliminating conflict between state and federal marijuana laws. The legislation would also expunge some criminal records, allow for more testing and research of the substance, allow veterans for the first time to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their VA doctors, remove the threat of deportation for immigrants accused of minor marijuana infractions or who are gainfully employed in the state-legal cannabis industry, and create funding for people and communities impacted by the War on Drugs.
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

New York City
On December 10, 2020, New York City expanded the scope of its Ban the Box law—the New York City Fair Chance Act (FCU)—further limiting an employer’s ability to take adverse action based on pending criminal charges or arrests, or convictions arising during employment. The amendments expand the FCA’s protections by requiring employers to apply the FCA review process before taking adverse action based on an applicant or employee’s pending, open criminal charges, arrests or accusations. The amendments to the FCA also apply the FCA notice and review process to criminal convictions arising during employment.
READ MORE

COVID-19

A Quick Scam Reminder
In a recent BBB Scam Alert: COVID-19 vaccines have arrived. So have the scams. Watch out for phony treatments and phishing messages while government officials crack down on fake testing kits and vaccines. Scammers are very creative, so be skeptical of anything that seems too good—or crazy—to be true. Double check any information about the vaccine with official news sources. And be aware that none of the vaccines can be currently purchased online or in stores.
READ MORE

Return-to-Office COVID-19 Testing Services for Your Workforce
Depending on your company’s policy, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices you may already have in place. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing solutions to meet your immediate needs. Testing and surveillance services through A-Check’s Medical Center partner networks can help as your employees return to the office.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help.

Happy Holidays from everyone at A-Check!

As we all work feverishly toward the last business day of 2020, we just want to take a few moments to wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season. Thank you for your trust in us throughout 2020. It’s been quite a ride this year, and we owe our current and future success to your loyal and ongoing business. Likewise, it is an honor to be part of your organization’s family, and we appreciate every opportunity to help you and your business thrive.

Here’s to the opportunity and success that lies ahead of us.

You’ve probably heard already, but we’re all planning to take a little time to enjoy the holidays with our families too. Here’s a quick note of our upcoming holiday hours of operation.

Thursday, December 24: Closed at 3:00 pm (PST)
Friday, December 25: Closed in observance of Christmas
Thursday, December 31: Closed at 3:00 pm (PST)
Friday, January 1: Closed in observance of New Year’s Day

Please note: most schools, businesses, courts, government agencies, and drug collection facilities will have limited availability during the holidays. Minor delays may occur for some search results.

As always, we’re here to help. Just reach out and let us know what we can do to assist. Have a healthy, happy, and peaceful holiday season!

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.