Sharing Economy Boosting Need for Employee Background Checks

While certain jobs have always required background checks for security of employees as well as protection from lawsuits on the part of employers, a new generation of needs are cropping up thanks to the “sharing economy.”

The Internet has enabled a variety of new business models, and one of them involves enabling consumers and service providers to reach each other directly. The result has been companies like Airbnb, which allows private homeowners to put their unused rooms and apartments to use as rentals, or Lyft and Uber, which help vehicle owners earn money by providing affordable ridesharing services.

Security an Issue in the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy has its downsides, and one of them has proven to be security. Hotels and taxi companies, for example, are often regulated by federal, state or local authorities, but collaborative platforms frequently are not. Thanks to some high-profile stories in the news about a lack of security with some sharing services, consumers are understandably nervous about opening their homes to strangers or getting into a car with one.

Uber has been hit hard in recent years by high-profile security issues. Under guidance from a new CEO, the ridesharing company announced it will begin performing annual criminal background checks on U.S. drivers and hire third-party service providers to continually monitor criminal arrests in an attempt to do a better job of keeping riders safe. A series of high-profile security problems and scandals led to the resignation of former CEO Travis Kalanick last year.

Providers Need to Build Trust

Peer-to-peer sharing, while a revolutionary idea that is cutting out extra expenses from “middlemen,” is a concept that doesn’t work without trust. For digital and app-based sharing businesses to grow in the current economy, they must create a sense of safety and trust for buyers.

“If you’re not working to build and demonstrate it, then the future might be about to leave you behind, as trust is quickly becoming the global — and most-valued — currency of modern time,” wrote TechCrunch’s Adriana Stan, who noted that the sharing economy needs a “codification of trust.”

Hire Professionals

Most companies aren’t equipped to ensure that all employees are deserving of positions of trust. (And do you really want to take the chance?) Professional third-party background investigation companies like DataCheck specialize in obtaining pertinent information through criminal background checks on a statewide and national level, past employment and background history information, and background investigations for DMV history, credit reports, drug screening, and many other aspects on individuals for employers nationwide.

Before you begin offering services to the public, ensure your customers can trust your employees.

Contact DataCheck today with your employment screening needs.

Criminal Background Checks & Compliance: Is Your Hiring Policy Up to Date?

Across the country, 31 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted what’s referred to as, “ban the box” rules that require employers consider a job candidate’s qualifications first rather than using arrest records as a step-one elimination tool, according to the National Employment Law Project.

The goal of “ban the box” is to give employment applicants a fair chance by removing the conviction history question from job applications and delaying background checks until later in the hiring process.

Violating the rules can be costly.

Target Agrees to $3.7 Million “Ban the Box” Settlement

In April, the Wall Street Journal reported that Target Corp. agreed to pay more than $3.7 million to resolve a civil-rights class-action complaint that alleged the retail giant’s policies regarding criminal-background checks were too broad and discriminated against African-American and Latino applicants. The company has also promised to overhaul job-screening guidelines for hourly workers. The settlement was in response to a civil suit filed by two individuals who had received conditional job offers from Target that were later revoked following the criminal-background screening process. The plaintiffs were represented by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the law firm Outten & Golden LLP.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Target will give priority hiring rights to African-Americans and Latinos who applied for jobs beginning in May 2006, but were denied employment based on pre-employment background checks. Applicants who have since retired or become ineligible to work because of medical issues or military obligations will be eligible to receive up to $1,000 in compensation. Target will also donate $600,000 to nonprofit organizations that provide aid to released prisoners.

The settlement estimated that 41,000 African-American and Latino applicants were denied employment from May 2008 to December 2016 due to the company’s criminal-history screening process. Target has said that it has now removed the criminal-history question from its employment application, but that it believes that criminal history checks are still vital for the safety of all its employees at the final stages of the hiring process.

Ensure You’re Doing Background Checks Properly

Criminal history background checks are an integral part of the hiring process and help protect companies and their employees. It’s essential, however, that employers ensure they’re following the law.

Contact DataCheck to inquire about professional pre-employment services that protect your workers and your business and avoid negligent hiring lawsuits while still complying with “ban the box” laws.

How HR Departments Could Use Blockchain Technology for Background Checks

Blockchain, a technology involving “chains” of unalterable ledgers, was invented in 2008 for use in managing the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Essentially, blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. It’s managed by a peer-to-peer network that adheres to protocols for communication and validation of new blocks. It’s compelling, because it’s so unchangeable: blocks can’t be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.

Increasingly, however, blockchain is for more than Bitcoin.

It’s even showing up in human resources (HR) departments. HR personnel looking to save time combing through resumes and dodge “embellished” claims are using blockchain to verify educational and experience claims on applications directly, according to HR Dive’s Riia O’Donnell.

“When it comes to resumes, blockchain technology has the potential to largely eliminate exaggeration,” wrote O’Donnell. “Schools can post degrees and educational details, employers can share dates and titles, and credentialing entities can make information available. Candidates could then authorize employers to access their records directly.”

Third Party Verification

Lying on resumes is nothing new. A survey conducted last year found that 85 percent of HR professionals found lies or exaggerations on resumes. Faked educational credentials are a common problem. With this in mind, HR professionals are increasingly wary of resume claims, but often lack the time and resources to check the truth of educational and experience claims.

Blockchain for Education Verification

Blockchain can help employers go directly to educational sources for verification of applicants’ claims. Last year, MIT became one of the first universities to debut a blockchain tool for human resources professionals to verify degree information directly.

Employers or third-party verification companies may soon be able to use blockchain technology to perform background checks. Going forward, human resources departments could be able to use the technology to seek out ideal candidates who may not even be applying for open jobs.

Today, third-party verification from companies like DataCheck remain the gold standard of employment verification for information such as the accuracy of a candidate’s experience, employment, education and criminal history.

Contact us today to discuss all your pre-employment screening needs.

Judge’s Ruling on Criminal Background Checks in Texas Muddles Hiring Compliance

In 2012, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the Obama administration began advising employers to use criminal background checks during job screenings only when the inquiry is directly job-related or necessary for the business. Issued in the form of guidance, the EEOC clarification described employer policies that may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, and other factors.

Background Checks for Hiring

In 2013, the State of Texas filed a lawsuit against the EEOC, accusing the commission of unduly restricting their ability to exclude certain candidates in hiring practices. (In Texas, it’s against the law to hire convicted felons for certain state agency positions.) Now, a federal judge has granted Texas’ request to block some of the restrictions, particularly those on background checks in hiring.

“The State of Texas and its constituent agencies have the sovereign right to impose categorical bans on the hiring of criminals, and the EEOC has no authority to say otherwise,” Texas argued in its November 2013 complaint.

The Obama-era rule was dismissed on procedural grounds, with the court finding that the EEOC violated federal law by issuing the guidance without providing the public with notice and opportunity to comment. The dismissal means that the EEOC may not enforce the 2012 guidance in Texas, though the federal government could choose to appeal the judge’s ruling. The judge did not hand the state a full win, however. According to the Texas Tribune’s Emma Platoff, the EEOC can still issue right-to-sue letters in Texas cases. In addition, the judge did not affirm Texas’ right to categorically exclude felons from certain jobs.

“A categorical denial of employment opportunities to all job applicants convicted of a prior felony paints with too broad a brush and denies meaningful opportunities of employment to many who could benefit greatly from such employment,” according to Judge Sam R. Cummings of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Lubbock Division).

Job Seekers with Records

Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, expressed disappointment with the district court ruling and said it should not be confused for a license to discriminate against job-seekers with records.

“Even in Texas, Title VII stands,” said Owens. “More broadly, states and employers would do well to avoid hiring policies that exclude people with records, as they only weaken the economy, undermine public safety, and harm families and communities. In light of this order, we are exploring our legal options moving forward.”

Employee criminal background checks can be a legal minefield, so employers should be sure they’re remaining within federal and state laws when they initiate checks. Third-party, pre-employment background screening companies can help employers stay in the boundaries of the law.

Contact DataCheck today for more information.

California Bars Employers from Asking Applicants about Salary History

Last year, the State of California passed a series of labor and employment bills that redefine the rules employers must follow when hiring workers in the state. The new laws, which went into effect at the beginning of 2018, address workers’ wages and hours, leaves of absence and benefits, hiring practices, health and safety issues and other workplace protections. Under the terms of one of the new rulings, employers in California are now barred from asking about an applicant’s salary history.

What Is AB 168?

California Assembly Bill (AB) 168 not only makes it illegal to ask about salary history, it prohibits an employer from relying on the salary history information of an applicant for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer the applicant a job, or determining what salary to offer the applicant. In addition, employers must provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant if he or she asks.

The legislation applies to all employers in the state, public and private, and covers not just salary, but other types of compensation and benefits. Employers need to be sure that all workers who may be involved in the hiring process understand what they can and cannot ask applicants.

Don’t Ask, But Applicants Can Tell

In most parts of the state, applicants could, however, choose to volunteer the information, according to the language of the new law. (San Francisco is the sole city to make it illegal to use volunteered salary information, according to Silicon Valley Business Journal.) It’s also permissible to ask about an applicants salary expectations.

“If an applicant voluntarily and without prompting discloses salary history information to a prospective employer, nothing in this section shall prohibit that employer from considering or relying on that voluntarily disclosed salary history information in determining the salary for that applicant,” according to the legislation.

What’s the Goal?

The goal of AB 168 is to attempt to remove the perceived gap in negotiating power between an employer and employees who must disclose their prior salary. Mandating the disclosure of salary history is often viewed as a way of perpetuating a gender gap in which women, who often start job-hunting at lower salaries than men, continue to lag behind in pay for the same positions.

How Do You Ensure Compliance?

It helps to consult with third-party experts who understand California labor laws. Ontario, California-based DataCheck understands how to comply with the new rules in California as well as similar rules in other states and cities. While many employers engage in background checking applicants today, there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way. Ensure you’re remaining within the margins of the law by seeking help from professionals.
Contact us today!