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What Ban-the-Box Laws Mean for Employers

Over the past several years, more than 33 states and 150 cities have created laws prohibiting employers from asking applicants if they have ever been convicted of a crime. These laws are called “ban-the-box” rules and businesses must shift their hiring practices to meet the requirements of the laws. As Congress considers a federal ban-the-box law, called the “Fair Chance Act,” let’s dig into what the law could mean, how it could impact your business and how to keep your hiring process compliant.

Origin of ban-the-box laws

Job applications often include the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Check yes or no.” That leaves the 60–70 million Americans who have a criminal record no choice but to check the “yes” box. Employers have used this question to narrow down their applicant pool without knowing the specifics or timing of candidate’s crime. Because of this hiring practice, those with criminal records have high unemployment rates, and studies show ex-offenders who do not find work are much more likely to commit another crime.

Ban-the-box laws have been introduced across the country to keep employers from asking about criminal history in initial job applications. Under these laws, it is illegal to disqualify an applicant from consideration just because they have a criminal record. Employers must at least know an applicant’s offenses to make an informed hiring decision.

Organizations working in security or with vulnerable populations are generally exempt from ban-the-box laws.

How you can meet ban-the-box requirements

Compliance with these kinds of laws and secure hiring practices are absolutely not mutually exclusive. With slight adjustments to your organization’s processes, you can build a safe workforce and in accordance with the law.

If necessary, update your organization’s application forms—removing criminal history questions and making sure outdated applications are completely inaccessible. You may also need to train your hiring managers how to handle applications and interviews to stay ban-the-box compliant.

Even if a state or city does not have a ban-the-box law, it is becoming more common for companies to voluntarily remove criminal record questions from applications. If your organization chooses not to ask upfront about criminal history but still needs to consider criminal offenses, decide when in the hiring process would be best to inquire about a background check.

To give all applicants a fair chance and make informed hiring choices, partner with a background check agency giving you a comprehensive report of applicants’ criminal records. Background reports will show you what crimes an applicant was convicted of, how long ago the crimes were and how relevant they are to your organization.

With the assistance of background checks, you can accommodate ban-the-box laws and make the best possible hiring choices for your team. Contact our Client Relations team to learn more about criminal background checks and how One Source can help you.

Questions Nonprofits Should Ask About Background Checks

Nonprofit organizations solve problems, enrich communities and advocate for social good. The altruistic nature of many nonprofits’ work includes consistent interaction with vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and people with disabilities. In order for nonprofits to protect the people they serve and expand their mission, they must do everything in their power to ensure safety and honesty in their staff and volunteer base. 

One way nonprofits can promote security is by background checking all of their workers, both paid and volunteer. By screening everyone who would like to associate with a nonprofit, leadership can more carefully select those representing the organization and place more trust in its team members. Before any nonprofit initiates a screening policy, it should clarify these questions nonprofits should ask about background checks with a screening agency.

What background information do nonprofits need to know?

A criminal history check is the baseline screening every organization should run on their applicants. Different organizations may require more specialized checks like driving records or certifications, but background check agencies can easily bundle those screenings with criminal checks. One Source provides county, state, multi-court and federal criminal checks as well as searches of the National Sex offender Registry and global watchlists in its standard TotalCheck package.

TotalCheck provides a full picture of an applicant’s criminal history, and One Source can include additional checks if necessary. You should identify screenings that may be relevant to your nonprofit—driving history, child abuse registries, drug screening or others.

How can a nonprofit create an ideal screening program?

Background checks are just one piece of an entire resource toolkit nonprofits should use to promote a safe environment. By developing and implementing a security program, you can supplement the information from background checks and further build credibility. Safety should be an expectation integral to a nonprofit’s organizational culture.

All team members should be screened every few years so you can stay up to date on the status of everyone associated with your organization. Subsequent screenings paired with educational materials demonstrating how safety is imperative to your mission should help create a transparent culture of security. When staff and volunteers join your nonprofit with the understanding of regular screenings, they will be more open to all security measures. One Source has screening programs designed just for nonprofits to allow consistent screening and stay within budget with special nonprofit pricing.

What if a background report raises concerns?

In order to disqualify applicants ethically and consistently, create a code of expectations your nonprofit follows when reviewing background reports. Determine what offenses do and do not exclude applicants from participating in your organization and stick to that plan. If you need assistance in deciding how your nonprofit will interpret reports, One Source can help.

If you decide not to hire an employee or volunteer based on the results of their background check, you must follow (pre) adverse action requirements and notify them in writing of as quickly as possible. Provide context for your reasoning and give the applicant the contact information of your screening agency so the agency can handle any disputes the applicant may file.

You should be able to focus on doing good without having to worry about their team members. Nonprofit screening solutions with One Source can help your organization stay safe even on a budget. Contact One Source Client Relations to learn more.

Your Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance crash course

In 2016, Florida woman Theresa Jones applied to drive for Lyft, Inc. The rideshare company ran its typical pre-employment screening then immediately barred her from employment because of her criminal record.

However, the record reported in Jones’ screening was not hers. It was that of a different woman with the same name and same date of birth. Lyft’s credit reporting agency pulled these records with a “name-based only search,” which means common names like Jones may show multiple results. The agency did not dig farther into each result’s specific information to find the report that matched the real Jones. Lyft cleared up the confusion by confirming Jones’ identity with her fingerprints, but she still filed a lawsuit against the company.

She claimed the rideshare company took adverse action without giving her a chance to dispute the background check first. This unjustified consequence cost Jones weeks of work and broke compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

In 2019, Lyft rescreened Jones. Again, Lyft’s background check provider presented the wrong criminal record report and Lyft once again suspended her employment. This time, Jones filed a lawsuit against both Lyft and its screening provider. Jones now drives for a Lyft competitor.

Stories like this underscore why FCRA compliance is so important in the background check industry. When screening agencies and the organizations hiring them maintain the standards of the FCRA, all of these problems can be prevented.

Below is a breakdown of the Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance and how to protect your employees, business and reputation.

What is the FCRA?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the FCRA “promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies” to protect those subjected to background checks.

Under the FCRA, the candidates you screen have several rights throughout the background check process. In order to be compliant with the FCRA, your organization and the background check agency you hire must respect those rights.

Anyone you run a background check on has the right to know everything in their file. If they request access to their report, your consumer reporting agency must provide them with the information they have.

Those you screen also have the right to dispute any part of their background check they believe is incorrect or incomplete. Before you can take adverse action against an applicant, you have to give them the chance to dispute their report.

If the person disputing information in their report provides the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with enough information to investigate their claim and their dispute is resolved, they have the right to get all the incorrect information erased or changed. Once this process is complete, you can proceed with hiring decisions.

How can I make sure my organization complies with the FCRA?

The most important and simplest thing any organization can do to stay complaint with the FCRA is ensure everyone gives written consent to a screening. No background check agency can give you any information without certainty that the subject is fully aware of the check. Including a consent form early in your application process is an easy way to secure compliance.

Once you have an applicant’s report, you must immediately notify them if you want to take adverse action against them. You need to explain what specific information in their report led you to your decision so they can see if the report is accurate.

In the case of Lyft, they were taken to court for notifying Jones that they had already taken adverse action without giving her any opportunity to correct her report. Following the FCRA can help you avoid this. 

To learn more about the FCRA or One Source’s FCRA compliance practices, contact One Source Client Relations.

Debunking 5 common background check myths

Hiring managers should use every tool available to build the best team for their organization. Professional background checks are the best way to ensure a safe, reliable work environment, but some misconceptions prevent organizations from seeking out screenings. We’re debunking 5 common background check myths about all aspects of the background check industry so you can confidently partner with an agency to expedite and secure your hiring process.

All the information in a background check can easily be found on the internet

There are many online companies advertising cheap and quick database records. However, that does not mean all internet databases are reliable for hiring purposes. The future of your organization depends on the quality of your hiring, so it pays to take time to let a professional background check agency scour government records. It is impossible to obtain a thorough, high-quality report instantly, but an agency can make a certified accurate report in just a few days.

Volunteers don’t need to be screened

Just because volunteers are not permanent, paid employees does not mean they are exempt from background checks. Some organizations depend on volunteers to manage their day-to-day operations, promote their mission and interact with the community. Volunteers are just as important to the existence of some organizations as paid employees. And they should be screened with equal scrutiny. If your organization regularly seeks the help of volunteers, an agency will manage your screenings with solutions tailored for volunteer organizations.

Organizations only run pre-employment checks

People are most familiar with the background checks they undergo during the hiring process, but ongoing screening can make sense for employers. Team members up for promotions or screened a long time ago should be rescreened. Create an environment of transparency where team members expect screenings. That way, your organization can promote safety and integrity while maintaining your team’s trust.

Background check services are too expensive for some organizations

Background check agencies exist to help organizations build safe communities. Their resources should be accessible to anyone who wants to improve their hiring process. Agencies often work with organizations to tailor services to their budget. For example, One Source offers solutions designed for nonprofit organizations which may not have budget to spare for volunteer screening.

Also, a background check costs less than complications from a bad hire. The ROI of a good hire exceeds the price of a check.

Applicants can be instantly disqualified for their background check results

Professional background reports are vastly more accurate than free internet reports, but they are not infallible. If an applicant’s report contains potentially disqualifying information, hiring managers must follow adverse action protocol before eliminating them. Applicants have the right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to dispute the results of the report to ensure nothing was falsely reported. No applicant can be removed from the hiring process until their dispute is resolved.

That represented a quick debunking of 5 common background check myths. To learn more about background check solutions for your organization, contact One Source Client Relations.

 

OSCC Quarter 3 Report

Each quarter, we run a report to review the results of our One Source Certified Contractors (OSCC) program. This program is a rigorous check used to help decipher eligibility for site access with our TotalCheck background screening packages and the option of drug screening. From schools to construction sites, OSCC offers the screening you would normally require for your employees, to contractors who might otherwise go un-screened.

Minimum requirements include:

  • No felony or misdemeanor convictions for crimes involving weapons, drugs, violence, theft, robbery, burglary, terroristic threats or sexual offenses*
  • A negative drug test for amphetamines, cannabinoids, cocaine, opiates and phencyclidines (if drug screening option has been chosen by site)

Quarter 3 findings:

The Quarter 3 Report shows the OSCC program has continued to increase safety for many organizations. In Quarter 3, the total number of applicants screened reached well over 4,500 applicants. From this total, 343 applicants did not meet the minimum requirements, therefore denied site access. The OSCC screening process is to help organizations make educated decisions when it comes to the contractors they have on-site.

 

Check out the breakdown of the 343 applicants who failed to gain site access through our screening below.

To learn more about these results or our OSCC program, contact our OSCC Team.

 

*Please note, this is not an exhaustive list.

 

NEW & IMPROVED: Our One Source Certified Contractors (OSCC) User Guides have been updated. Check out our updated guides here!

 

4 Reasons to Screen Applicants with a Criminal Background Check

Vet your business’s applicants before bringing them into the fold with a quality employment background screening

An employee background screening gives you the context you need to make an informed hire for your company. For even greater insight, screen applicants with a criminal background check as part of that process. 

Verifying a criminal record as part of your pre-employment background check represents a must. If your prospective hire will carry out risk-laden tasks in their everyday role, this heightens in importance. These can range from driving a company vehicle to having facility keys to carrying a firearm. 

Furthermore, before baking a criminal background check into your pre-employment screening, make yourself aware of the restrictions. State and federal laws outline these rules and regulations, and anti-discrimination laws are in place to ensure applicants are treated fairly regardless of their past. Bringing on an employee with a checkered past isn’t uncommon—after all, most people deserve a second chance—and the results of a criminal background check don’t prevent you from making a hire. 

With that in mind, here’s why 4 reasons to screen applicants with a criminal background check. 

Protect your people

Hiring the wrong person doesn’t just put your business at risk. It can endanger the people around you.

However, while you can overlook a candidate’s past mistakes, you should be cognizant of your current employees and mindful of their safety. If you ignore a past transgression that could reoccur during normal work duties (e.g. hiring a delivery driver with a DUI), you could be in jeopardy of negligent hiring claims. It’s not illegal but can make your company liable (in this instance, if the employee was convicted of another DUI while on the job and injured someone).

Your new hire must integrate with your current staff and be safe around customers and the public. Therefore, ensure you have all the information to make a hire safe for all parties involved. 

Safeguard your company from risk

Adding a criminal background check to your pre-employment screening is like adding insurance to your hiring process. By making sure your applicants meet your company’s hiring standards, you’ll mitigate the risk of employing someone who could be a liability to your organization and employees.

Employing the wrong person could lead to countless unintended consequences if their record isn’t behind them. It can be avoided when you have all the pertinent information available to you before you send out offers.

Save time and money by hiring the right person—the first time

Hiring for open positions poses enough challenges. If you make the wrong hire because a criminal background check couldn’t save you from making an ill-advised hire, you can cost your company thousands.

Therefore, spare yourself some déjà vu and your business a financial loss. 

Avoid PR fallout

If a poor hire ends up endangering or harming customers or coworkers, you’ll have created a public relations crisis. On top of the money it costs your company to hire and fire a problem employee, it will cost your communications staff time and effort that could’ve been better spent on positive marketing outreach. To make matters worse, it can be harmful to your brand and make hiring the next time even harder.

Warning signs of belligerent behavior can be flagged in pre-employment background checks that include criminal record screenings.

New to the world of background checks? Then, explore our wide array of insights, tips and employment background screening guides on the OneSource blog.

Learn how to hire a reliable contractor

A guide to certified contractor checks

Contractors provide invaluable services many organizations lack the time or resources to do themselves. They can bring buildings up to code, install new hardware, offer technology support and much more. Organizations may also rely on contractors to upgrade facilities or keep them running efficiently. But how do you learn to hire a reliable contractor?

While most organizations run background checks on employees, few screen the contractors they hire. The contractors may be checked by the company they work for, but their standards may not align with your organization’s standards. This means you may be giving a contractor access to your property and information without knowing if they can be trusted with access.

Fortunately, there are several ways to ensure your organization hires trustworthy contractors. Take the following steps to avoid scams, protect your organization and learn how to hire a reliable contractor. 

Research potential contractor firms

Before you decide which contracting firm will suit your organization’s needs, look up the best contractors in your area and compare them. There are websites where people can candidly review and rate contractors. If you notice certain firms have patterns of reviewers complaining or accusing them of scams, you should take that firm out of consideration.

It also helps to ask colleagues and friends for referrals, so you get a firsthand understanding of how a firm works. The best contractors often arise through word of mouth, but that does not mean they are infallible. You should check a firm’s history, licensing and qualifications before you select them.

Ask your contractor plenty of questions

Develop a shortlist of contracting firms and contact each for a quote on the cost of your project. You can gain further information about their processes to help you make an informed decision.

Ask each firm about their experience on projects similar to yours and request a list of references. They should be able to give you examples of recent clients who were satisfied with their work, the reliability of the workers and the cost efficiency.

You should also clarify if your project will require any permits and make sure the contractors will get those permits before they start working. On top of permits, contractors should have personal liability, workers’ compensation and property damage insurance so you will not be held liable for any damages or injuries.

Screen the contractors you choose

Once you have settled on a contracting firm, check the backgrounds of the contractors before you officially hire them. One Source offers a simple screening process that lets you know whether a contractor is eligible to access your site.

We perform our rigorous TotalCheck Plus screening, check our certified contractor requirements and then tell you if a contractor “meets requirements” or “does not meet requirements.”

Our One Source Certified Contractor guidelines ensure contractors are compliant with our checks. Plus, it’ll ensure they have no felony or misdemeanor convictions and a negative drug test. When you receive the check’s results, you can then hire your contractors and begin your project. And just like that, you learn how to hire a reliable contractor. 

To discover more about One Source Certified Contractor checks, contact One Source Client Relations.

Does your organization need a background check process?

Many organizations run screenings on potential volunteers, but some may find the idea of formalizing their organization’s background check process daunting. However, a formal volunteer background check protocol can make recruitment easy, safe and efficient. So, if you are unsure whether your organization needs to develop a background check process, answer these eight questions to find out.

1. Are you expanding your volunteer base?

Growing organizations must gain the loyalty of new volunteers to continue their efforts. However, more of them bring a higher-liability risk. You can expand your volunteer base with confidence by screening applicants and verifying their skills.

2. Are you trying to develop a trustworthy brand?

By cultivating a culture of honesty and responsibility, volunteers and donors will be drawn to your organization’s strong reputation. Background checks can help ensure that you choose volunteers that will uphold your organization’s values. Therefore, volunteers can be your greatest advocates if they represent your brand with reliability and respect.

3. Do you want to reduce turnover?

Minimizing turnover allows you to spend less time training new volunteers and more time fostering a positive environment for volunteers and those you serve. Build a strong core of consistent volunteers by authenticating their backgrounds and aligning them with your goals and ideals.

4. Are you looking for volunteers that will advocate for you?

Volunteers can carry a lot of weight for an organization, and some even rely on volunteers to run their day-to-day operations, promote their mission and recruit future volunteers. Therefore, those organizations must place their trust in volunteers to further their ambitions. So, background screenings can help you choose the volunteers who will advocate for you and stay dedicated to you.

5. Do you need to verify volunteers’ qualifications?

Some volunteer positions require prior training, education or knowledge. Before you send volunteers out into the field, you can get peace of mind by checking that their background is legitimate. Through a background screening, you can make sure your volunteers have all the qualifications they need to fulfill your mission.

6. Does your organization require skills that must be certified?

If your volunteers need to drive, operate machinery or perform any certifiable task while working for you, it is in your best interest to verify their abilities. Background checks can report on driving records and confirm all certifications. You can keep your volunteers and your community safe by making these checks a standard part of your recruitment process.

7. Do you want to avoid negligence claims?

While organizations do everything in their power to avoid issues, nothing can prevent all problems. So, should any problem arise, you can protect your organization from legal claims by performing background checks. Hence, screening all volunteers proves that your organization did its due diligence to maintain a safe environment.

8. Can your volunteers’ integrity affect your bottom line?

Your volunteers can be the face of your organization, and those in your community who interact with them should feel respected and uplifted. If just one volunteer leaves someone with a negative impression of your organization, it can throw you off course. So, to maintain your brand and character, screen volunteers and choose those who will live your principles.

In order to learn more about volunteer background checks or start your background check process, contact One Source Client Relations.

A beginner’s guide to completing background checks

You found the best applicants. What’s next?

Growing businesses often reach a point where their workload exceeds the time of their staff. When that point approaches, managers must consider recruiting and hiring new team members to meet the rising demand.

Growth opportunities are an exciting sign of progress, but expansion comes with responsibilities and potential liabilities. Minimize risk and hire with confidence by running background checks on your job applicants as part of your hiring process.

If you are new to background check procedures, follow this beginner’s guide to completing background checks. Then, we will help you establish an efficient, transparent process for screening your new employees.

Choose a background check agency

No matter the needs of your company, your hiring team can benefit from a partnership with a background check agency. Companies that specialize in background checks offer unique resources and insights to guide you through the entire screening process. Build a relationship with an agency early in your company’s life to set a solid foundation for future hiring.

Your screening agency should be compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), offer accessible and responsive customer support, customize its services to your needs and provide cost-effective and timely reports.

Explain your screening process to candidates

The FCRA and screening best practices oblige you to maintain transparency with applicants. Before you begin screenings, clarify to candidates why a background check is necessary and how the report can affect their employment.

You and your background check agency will set packages and searches based on your needs and industry. You will then establish an employment policy and guidelines for your screening process. Make these guidelines available to potential applicants so they can decide whether or not to pursue a position. When applicants are aware of the potential consequences of their reports, give them an FCRA-required consent form that they must sign for you to proceed with screenings.

Gather information from applicants

Once candidates know how you will use their report and submit their signed consent form, your background check agency may begin searching their records. Most agencies will check local, state and national criminal records, sex-offender registries, watchlists and identity verification records. The more information about your applicants you can provide to your agency, the more comprehensive and accurate the reports will be.

A full name, a Social Security number and a birthdate can be enough information for a basic background check. However, to get more specific results and maximize accuracy, it can be helpful to provide a current address. Driver’s license numbers or passport numbers may be also required for driving record checks or international watchlist checks.

Review and interpret the report

Your background check agency will present you with their findings and should be available to answer any of your questions about the contents of the reports. As you review their results, refer to the guidelines and employment policy. Your company established for acceptable background reports to stay aligned with your requirements.

If the results of an applicant’s report are the reason you choose not to hire them, you must notify them and explain how the report influenced your decision. At that point,  they will have an opportunity to dispute the report before you move forward with your remaining applicants.

With that, you now have your beginner’s guide to completing background checks. Now what?

To kick off your background check process, contact One Source Client Relations and start hiring with confidence.

How far back does a background check report?

FAQs about the background check process

Background checks are common for volunteer organizations and nearly universal for employers. The vast majority of job seekers will go through the background check process several times through their career. However, few people ever see the results of their reports or know how reports can influence hiring decisions.

Below are some frequently asked questions about the behind-the-scenes of background screenings, so you can be prepared for your next job or volunteer application.

How far back does a background check report?

To provide a comprehensive report, One Source looks back as far as each county allows. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) does not restrict the time frame that can be searched for criminal convictions. Many background check companies do not search further back than seven years, but One Source searches further back whenever possible. By searching an extended period of time, One Source can report felonies and dangerous crimes that may not appear in a seven-year check.

Some states have their own guidelines that may prevent extended background checks, but One Source will report as much information as possible. If you would like to check a limited amount of time, One Source also has options for seven-year and 10-year checks.

Where is the information in a report found?

Background check agencies draw from numerous databases and court records to complete a screening. One Source searches public records including the Death Master Index and residential records to verify identities. Basic screenings also include checks of county, state and nationwide criminal records as well as the National Sex Offender Registry and global watchlists. Based on an organization’s specific needs, One Source can include additional checks such as driver history, professional license verification, drug testing and more.

How do background check companies make sure information is accurate?

To ensure a more complete and accurate report, provide background check agencies with as much identification information as you can. One Source needs a full name and a full birthdate to verify criminal case information. A Social Security number, an address and a driver’s license number will also help further authenticate records.

The FCRA requires screening companies do everything they can to “assure maximum possible accuracy” in their reports. One Source uses several trusted, verified databases and proven processes so you and the organizations you work with can have peace of mind.

Can I get a copy of my background check report?

Yes. If an organization runs a check on you, you are always able to request access to the report. You may ask the organization ordering the screening to send you a copy of the report or you can contact the background check agency directly. Contact One Source Client Relations to learn more about how you can receive a copy of your report.

Can I contest the results of my report?

Under the FCRA, the subject of a screening has the right to know what is in their report, and the right to amend any incorrect information. While One Source does everything in its power to provide accurate reports, you are free to contest the contents of your report at any time. Therefore, a background check agency must investigate a claim of false information within 30 days. If an organization takes adverse action against you based on incorrect data, notify the screening agency as quickly as possible.

To learn more about the background check process, request a report or contest a report, contact One Source Client Relations.