Archive for the Webinars Category

Webinar Series Focuses on Effective and Compliant Background Check Processes

Webinar Series Focuses on Effective and Compliant Background Check Processes

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Imperative Information Group is offering a series of free HRCI-approved webinars designed to educate employers about the technical, legal, and policy issues surrounding employment-related background investigations.

Each webinar will be presented by Mike Coffey, SPHR, president of Imperative Information Group.

HR professionals and business owners can register for each of the free webinars at http://www.imperativeinfo.com/presentation-calendar.

The series includes five webinars:

February 11: What Employers Need to Know about Criminal Background Checks: This presentation covers where the information comes from and what should be included in a good background check. It also covers employers’ legal responsibilities under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and EEOC guidelines, both of which are covered more thoroughly in Background Checks Under Fire and The Fair Credit Reporting Act’s Requirements for Employers.

February 26: The Fair Credit Reporting Act’s Requirements for Employers:  The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) covers all employment-related background checks purchased by employers. This webinar will cover employers’ responsibilities under the FCRA, which is the hottest area of background check related litigation.

March 18: Background Screening Considerations to Avoid Discrimination Claims: The EEOC, state regulators, and community action groups have been closely scrutinizing how employees use history information. This presentation will walk employers through the process of preparing a background screening policy that helps ensure a safe and productive workforce while staying out of regulators and plaintiffs’ attorneys’ crosshairs. 

April 15: Creating a Criminal Evaluation Tool: In order to effectively and consistently evaluate the criminal histories of prospective and current employees, it is important that employers consider which criminal offenses are relevant to specific jobs. Additionally, the age and frequency of offenses should also be considered when evaluating relevancy. In this webinar, we will walk through the process of developing a criminal history relevance matrix, an effective tool for documenting employers’ policies with regard to the impact of individuals’ criminal histories on their employment eligibility.

May 13: DOT Driver Qualifications and Background Checks: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations list a host of requirements for employers regulated by the federal Department of Transportation. In this presentation, Mike will discuss the FMCSR’s requirements for the application and employment background check process.

Previews of many of the webinars are also available on Imperative Information Group’s website.

We meet many employers who don’t understand their options when purchasing background investigations and often aren’t getting what they need from their background screening process. With the amount of attention employers’ use of criminal records is getting from legislators, regulators, and plaintiff’s attorneys, employers can’t afford not to audit their process for compliance, which is why Imperative is offering this free webinar series.
~ Mike Coffey, SPHR, president of Imperative Information Group.

Imperative Information Group is a Fort Worth, Texas based employment background screening firm serving small and medium-sized employers in a variety of industries. Imperative’s president, Mike Coffey, SPHR, is past president of the Fort Worth Human Resource Management Association and a district director for Texas SHRM. He regularly presents to SHRM chapter conferences and HR Southwest.

Are background checks creating “a large, miserable underclass of people?”

Are background checks creating “a large, miserable underclass of people?”
Because every employer wants to create a large, disaffected, and angry population in their community.

Because every employer wants to create a large, disaffected, and angry population in their community.

Our YouTube posting of our Background Checks Under Fire webinar received this comment last week:

kckves youtube comment

Clearly, this individual assumes that any employer who includes criminal history as a criteria in making hiring decisions automatically rejects applicants with any past criminal offenses, regardless of the rest of the applicants’ qualifications.  This makes me a little crazy because this has been the extreme exception in the 15 years that I’ve been consulting with employers on these issues or in my HR career prior to that. However, I tried to be sweet and lovable in my reply:

kckves, perhaps you haven’t hide time to watch the video. If so, that is a bit ironic because you made assumptions about it based on limited information, much as you seem to believe I advocate that employers do when making hiring decisions about former offenders.

The entire point of the webinar is to give employers guidance and a tool to help determine what criminal offenses are directly related to a specific job, based on position and environment-specific risks and the age of the offense. I never advocate any blanket policy that excludes former offenders from consideration for employment simply because they have had some past criminal history.

Certainly there are certain offenses that absolutely bar those offenders from certain kinds of employment: sex offenses and positions that work with children; recent driving while intoxicated offenses for individuals who will be operating a motor vehicle or operating heavy equipment; recent theft offenses for individuals who are in cash management positions. However, there are many other jobs where these offenses would not be automatic bars to employment.

An individual’s criminal history is only one part of what they present to a prospective employer, along with their education, prior work experience, and skill set. I always encourage employers to review the full applicant, not just any one component of their background.

(Okay, maybe the opening line was a little snarky. Like I said, this makes me crazy.)

Unfortunately, this commenter’s perception of employment background screening based upon conjecture and anecdotal information is not uncommon.

The National Employment Law Project published a report in 2011 painting employers’ use of criminal history with a broad brush based upon a few anecdotes of admittedly bad practices. The next year, the EEOC published an overreaching guidance on employer’s use of criminal records, a discussion of which is the core of my webinar, Background Checks Under Fire: Policy Considerations to Avoid Discrimination Claims. Additionally, many states and municipalities have embraced some form of the Ban the Box movement, again making their decisions based on anecdotes rather than empirical data.

The good news for employers in Texas and most other states is that beyond Title VII’s expectations that employers avoid policies without a business necessity that result in a disparate impact on protected classes, there aren’t additional limitations on employers’ ability to review criminal history as a part of evaluating candidates’ fitness for positions. In fact, no plaintiff has won a Title VII claim based on an employer’s use of criminal history since 1975! However, that hasn’t stopped the EEOC from continuing to file lawsuits against employers they believe are discriminating against former offenders.

We’ve published our webinar schedule for the first half of the year. Attending those and perhaps reviewing some of our previous webinar records will help you make sure that your policies and procedures are up-to-date. Of course, you can always call me to discuss your company-specific challenges. My number is  817-921-5286 or, if you aren’t blessed enough to live in the Fort Worth area, toll-free 877-473-2287.

Alternatively, you can just anonymously blast me on YouTube.

Five Benchmarks of an Effective Background Screening Program

Given the heightened scrutiny of employers’ background screening practices, employers should review their practices and policies to ensure legal compliance. However, compliance doesn’t ensure that a background screening practice is effective. There are five key components of an effective background screening program.

  1. Fair. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) have warned employers to ensure that their employment screening processes, particularly with regard to criminal and credit history, are not discriminatory under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Recent litigation suggests that the EEOC’s definition of “fair” may be different from that held by the courts, however employers should still review their screening standards to be certain that they are consistently applied and based upon business necessity. Some states also have fair employment practice laws of which employers should be aware. On March 19th, I’ll be presenting Background Checks Under Fire: Policy Considerations to Avoid Discrimination Claims in a free webinar approved for one hour of HRCI general recertification credit. In this one-hour presentation, I’ll review the EEOC’s 2012 guidance on employers’ use of criminal records, the OFFCP’s similar position statement, and state and local trends surrounding background checks.
  2. Compliant. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act governs employers’ use of background check information purchased through third parties like Imperative Information Group. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are becoming increasingly aware of the FCRA’s requirements on both background screening companies and employers. Class action lawsuits against employers for failure to comply with the FCRA are becoming much more common and are resulting in multi-million dollar settlements. These settlements include payouts to applicants and employees against whom no adverse action was taken by the employer – simple technical failures to comply with the FCRA are now resulting in lawsuits. FCRA compliance is fairly straight forward and actually provides employers with immunity from lawsuits for  defamation, invasion of privacy, and negligence with regard to their use of consumer reports. Additionally, some states have their own flavors of the FCRA about which employers should be aware. On February 27th, I’ll be presenting The Fair Credit Reporting Act’s Requirements for Employers as a free HRCI-approved webinar to assist employers in ensuring their compliance with the FCRA.
  3. Social. When it comes to social media, employers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, they fear accessing protected-class information about candidates and the perception that their inquiries are overly invasive. At the same time, employers are concerned that failing to review publicly-accessible social media information that might provide insight into a candidates’ lack of fitness for certain kinds of positions will come back to bite them when something later goes wrong and lawsuits are filed. Additionally, even employers who don’t officially search candidates’ social media profiles often fail to communicate that policy to hiring managers who take it upon themselves to “check out” candidates’ social media profiles. There are ways to balance these concerns and I’ll discuss them in my March 28th free webinar, Social Media Policy Considerations for Employers.
  4. Thorough. Many employers rely on instant criminal records databases as their entire criminal background check. Though these “national” (we call them multijurisdictional) criminal records databases have a place in a thorough employment screening program, relying on them solely is akin to buying a car radio and calling it a car. Likewise, many employers have ill-advised limits on the scope of the criminal records they review. In my April 11th webinar, What Employers Need to Know About Background Checks, I’ll pull back the curtains and share where criminal records information comes from (it is not like what you see on TV) as well as the importance of including other background investigation components including driving histories, employment and education verifications, and in some cases credit reports. Like all of our webinars, this one is approved for an hour of HRCI general recertification credit.
  5. Ongoing. Employees have lives outside of the workplace. Sometimes, employee’s off-duty conduct has workplace consequences. Increasingly, employers are recognizing the need to review employee’s driving, criminal, and, in some cases, credit information on an ongoing basis to ensure that the employee is able to continue contributing to the company’s success in a safe and effective manner. The decision to request background checks on existing employees has the same requirements as for job applicants under the FCRA. My webinar The Fair Credit Reporting Act’s Requirements for Employers webinar will review those requirements while What Employers Need to Know About Background Checks covers the smaller-scope background checks many employers request on an annual basis.

Of course, if you are currently reviewing your background screening process, you may not want to wait for these webinars. Feel free to call me at toll free 877-473-2287 and I’d be glad to visit with you about your questions.

Mike Coffey, SPHR is president of Imperative Information Group, a Texas-based background screening and business due diligence firm serving clients nationally. 

Slides and Notes for my EEOC Criminal History Guidance Webinar Now Available

After conducting three webinars about the EEOC’s April 25th guidance document and trading innumerable emails and phone calls with clients, friends, and colleagues, I’m finally at a place where I feel comfortable releasing the Gospel According to Coffey on this topic – which is to say that I’ve mixed a lot of fact and some opinion into the presentation and I think it is a reasonable response to the new guidance.

(The rest of this post is about how the sausage was made, so you  might just want to skip down and look at the PDF file.)

The challenge in putting this presentation together is that the EEOC guidance does not exist in a vacuum, though perhaps the EEOC would suggest that it does.

The guidance is more than a “suggestion” but is certainly less than a “rule” that employers must follow. There has been little coverage of that fact in most of the traditional, business, and social media coverage of the guidance’s publication. A publicity campaign by the EEOC and public interest groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Employment Law Project  trumpeting the new guidance as historic and game-changing overran the anemic responses by SHRM and the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Thus, the media coverage tended to suggest that the new guidance was the new workplace law of the land.

Uh, not so much. Certainly, the EEOC listed a number of  impractical “best practices” that they rather heavy handedly suggest that employers adopt or get ready to be sued. However much of the guidance follows the precedent set by other documents over the last four decades: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (including its 1991 amendments), the Supreme Court decisions in Griggs v. Duke Power Company and Green v. Missouri Pacific Railroad, and two previous EEOC guidance documents issued over 20 years ago. The EEOC has also been signaling their interest in this topic in their investigative and litigation choices, public hearings, and intiatives like E-RACE.

Reviewing the media coverage of the guidance outside of this context would lead those unfamiliar with this history to incorrectly believe that something significant and new has happened. It hasn’t.

So, I tried to quickly cover almost forty years of history in this single presentation, including the development of the “disparate impact” theory in Griggs and Green.  At the same time, I didn’t want to miss the rest of the regulatory landscape affecting employers use of criminal records, including the “ban the box” movement and a host of other state-law considerations.

Then, I turned to try and figure out how reasonable employers who already had solid policies and good management training might address the EEOC’s suggestions of how one might avoid a discrimination suit. One of those ideas involved coopting a process already required in many cases by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, so I found myself giving a very brief primer on employers’ responsibilities under the FCRA.

The feedback from the webinar has been very positive. However, some who took our post-webinar survey suggested that some of background information was too basic for experienced HR pros while others thanked me for the in-depth review. Judge for yourself:

This file also includes all 55 pages of the guidance document. If you would rather download this PDF, click on the “View it on Slideshare” button and choose the download option.

As with everything I do, nothing is ever “good enough,” so I’ll continue to tinker with the presentation as I get feedback from the HR community. I am also working to revise the Background Checks Under Fire presentation to incorporate the EEOC’s guidance. I’m making that presentation to the Dallas-Fort Worth Staffing Management Association next week, in case you just can’t get enough of this stuff.

The New EEOC Guidance: The Sky Isn’t Falling

On April 25th, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new “enforcement guidance on the consideration of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

This is the first guidance on this topic issued by the EEOC in more than 20 years. It reflects the EEOC’s recent litigation trend of trying to limit employers’ use of criminal records in making employment decisions. Much of the new guidance reflects the policy considerations suggested in my Background Checks Under Fire presentations to SHRM chapters and webinar audiences.

However, the new guidance suggests several more restrictive items, including:

  • “Ban the box” – a suggestion that employers remove criminal history inquiries from the employment application and not make such inquiries until the applicant is being interviewed or even later in the process.
  • An interpretation of Title VII suggesting that employers create very job-specific (as opposed to job-category) guidelines identifying which kinds of criminal offense are directly applicable to a particular position.
  • A requirement that the employer conduct “individualized assessments” of most applicants whose criminal histories may eliminate them from consideration for employment. This would mean that employers would discuss the results of the background check with the applicant before making the hiring decision.

However, although the guidance suggests new policies for employers, it is important for employers to understand that little has really changed, despite much of what has been published in the media. (Remember that lawyers who speak to the media often give very generic and conservative advice.) The EEOC is not a rule-making entity – they can only bring civil cases against employers they believe to be in violation of the laws they enforce.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has not changed.

Employers run background checks for specific reasons (and none of them are prurient):

  • To protect the public from the consequences of the wrong person in the wrong job.
  • To protect their own employees from the consequences of the wrong person in the wrong job.
  • To protect the company’s assets from the consequences of the wrong person in the wrong job.
  • To protect the company’s reputation from the consequences of the wrong person in the wrong job.

Failures to protect against the consequences of the wrong person in the wrong job cost employers and society in many ways. In the worst situations, lives are lost or individuals are hurt. Expensive litigation often follows.

Employers should understand the ramifications of the new guidance on their operations’ safety and performance before making changes to their current policy. In fact, many employers who already have sound policies in compliance with long-standing EEOC guidelines may decide not to make any changes in light of the new guidance.

I conducted a webinar to go through the new guidelines last Friday. There were a lot of good questions and follow up conversations. In preparing the webinar, I visited with some really smart human resources professionals (including Terri Swain at The HR Consultant, who specializes in EEOC, affirmative action, and OFCCP issues), employment law attorneys, and my background screening industry peers. I’ve concluded that the sky isn’t falling but employers do need to make informed decisions about how they respond to the new guidance.

I’ve scheduled two additional webinars for the next two Mondays (April 30th and May 7th). The webinar will likely continue to evolve as great minds share their thoughts with me. I hope you’ll find time to be a part of that conversation. (There’s also free HRCI recertification credit in it for you, too.)

Second EEOC Guidance Webinar Added

The new but as yet unpublished EEOC enforcement guidance is getting a lot of attention. So much so that we’ve added a second webinar to review the guidance once it is published.

I discussed with attorneys and HR pros what may be included at the Fort Worth Human Resource Employment Law Update yesterday. The responses ranged from eye-rolls to exasperation and frustration.

For those hearing about this, on April 25th, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is expected to issue new “enforcement guidance on the consideration of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

This will be the first guidance on this topic issued by the EEOC in more than 20 years. It is widely expected that the new guidance will reflect the EEOC’s recent litigation trend of trying to limit employers use of criminal records in making employment decisions. We anticipate that much of the new guidance will reflect the policy considerations suggested in Mike’s Background Checks Under Fire presentations to SHRM chapters and webinar audiences. However, lawyers and lobbyists we trust (yes, there are a few) have suggested that the new guidance may include several more restrictive items, including:

  •  
  • “Ban the box” – a suggestion that employers remove criminal history inquiries from the employment application and not make such inquiries until the applicant is being interviewed or even later in the process.
  • A requirement that employers create very job-specific guidelines identifying which kinds of criminal offense are directly applicable to a particular position.
  • A requirement that the employer discuss the results of the background check with applicant before making the hiring decision (this would be additional to the employer’s responsibility under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide the applicant a copy of their report and their summary of rights prior to taking adverse action).
  • Some definition of a “rehabilitation period” – this may come in the form of a 7- or 10-year limit on the review of criminal records (much like California’s or Washington’s state law).
  • A requirement that the criteria used in evaluating criminal records be statistically validated by an employer – a requirement that would be expensive and require significant studies conducted by statisticians.

All of the above is speculation (some of it based on conversations with people close to the decision-makers) and we won’t know what is included until the guidelines are released. As always, the devils are in the details.

In the webinars, I will review the content of the new guidance in the context of the prior EEOC guidance documents on the use of criminal arrest and conviction records, Title VII, and the EEOC’s recent litigation history. It will also present employers with the specific policy items that they may need to consider in reviewing their current background screening practices.

Space is limited to 100 participants in each session. Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

April 27, 2012, 2:00 pm CST https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/396722496

Arpil 30, 2012 1:30 pm CST https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/162602632

EEOC to Issue New Guidance on the Use of Criminal Records

On April 25th, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is expected to issue new “enforcement guidance on the consideration of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

This will be the first guidance on this topic issued by the EEOC in more than 20 years. It is widely expected that the new guidance will reflect the EEOC’s recent litigation trend of trying to limit employers use of criminal records in making employment decisions.

On April 27th, I will host a webinar to review the content of the new guidance in the context of Title VII and the EEOC’s recent litigation. It will also present employers with the specific policy items that they may need to consider in reviewing their current background screening practices.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/396722496

Free Webinar: Background Checks Under Fire

The use of this seal is not an endorsement by HR Certification Institute of the quality of the program. It means that this program has met HR Certification Institute’s criteria to be pre-approved for recertification credit.

Imperative recently received HRCI Approved Provider status, which means that the presentations I’ve been making to SHRM-related chapters for the last several years can also be provided in other venues for HRCI credit. One of these new venues is the webinar format.

On November 8th, Imperative will be hosting our first webinar: Background Checks Under Fire: Policy Considerations to Avoid Discrimination Claims (register here). This program has been approved for one hour of general recertification credit for PHR, SPHR, and GPHRs.

DESCRIPTION: The EEOC, Congress, and many state legislatures are closely scrutinizing how employers use background checks, especially criminal histories and credit reports. This presentation will walk employers through the process of preparing a background screening policy that helps ensure a safe and productive workforce while staying out of regulators’ and plaintiffs’ attorneys’ crosshairs.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: The learner will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the following objectives upon completion of this activity:

  •  The legal and safety reasons employers conduct thorough background checks; 
  • Employers’ responsibilities under the Fair Credit Reporting Act; 
  • Considerations in developing a background check and due diligence policy; 
  • Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its application to background checks; 
  • The National Labor Relations Act and its application to background checks; 
  • State-specific laws governing background checks.

 Space is limited. Reserve your webinar seat now at:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/801710160