Laurel City Council Amends Background Check Law

Tue, August 16th, 2011 - 4:48 am - By Gordon Basichis

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The Laurel City Council amended the law requiring candidates to undergo background checks.    Passage of the amendment was unanimous so there was no discernible dissension among the ranks. Two civic groups believed conducting background checks on candidates for city council may be discriminatory.   One wonders if this is due to common  issues of discrimination or the belief that politicians may have enough malfeasance in their past and, possibly, their future, so no sense in dragging out the old baggage.  Hard to say.

However, both civic groups determined it was okay to run background checks to determine if the candidate owed back taxes.  It just wasn’t okay to see if he was a convicted felon.  A violent felon.    Someone who embezzled money at a previous job or while working for another local government.   Whatever.

In fairness, the new law, it is believed is in conformity with the election procedures in the rest of Maryland.   All aides believed the amendment to be equitable, enabling transparency without being intrusive.

The article, on, read…”Mayor Craig Moe, who called for the meeting between city, ACLU and NAACP officials, said the original legislation was designed to add transparency to the election process so residents would have more information on a candidate. He said after learning of the NAACP’s and ACLU’s concerns, he realized it would be in the best interest of the city to change the law and called for the special session of the council to amend the rules.

“With everything going on in Prince George’s County (the former County Executive and a County Council member pleading guilty to federal criminal charges), we were headed in the right direction by trying to make sure a felon wouldn’t run for office,” Moe told the council Monday night. “With the election coming up (in November), we needed to make sure this was clarified.”

One aspect of the law that found common agreement is that anyone convicted of a crime while in office would be removed from that office immediately.  In short, that official would no longer be allowed to remain in office while awaiting sentencing or an appeal.

As the article quoted…”

That one word is “immediate,” and it refers to the immediate removal from office of any elected official who has pleaded guilty or been found guilty of a crime. In addition, the elected official’s salary and benefits would also be terminated immediately.

“I’m happy with ‘immediate’ being put in so you get away from someone convicted or who has pleaded guilty remaining in office,” said Crary. “I think what we have today is better and clarified.”



The New Employment Screening Paradigm for the United Kingdom

Mon, August 15th, 2011 - 3:03 am - By Gordon Basichis

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London is calling.  London is burning.  It will probably get worse before it gets better.    A lot of kids are rioting, and a lot of kids will be arrested.   To say the least, some of the rioters will have some criminal convictions and some pretty nasty criminal records.

So how will employment screening work, going forward in the United Kingdom?

“Says here you were caught rioting.”

“No, I wasn’t.  Wasn’t me. ”

“But you were caught on video lighting fires.   You were arrested, tried, and convicted.”

“Nope.  Must’ve been some other bloke.”

So what will the employment screening practices be when background checks reveal so many criminal convictions?   Do human resources personnel cut the rioters some slack and chalk it off to a “bad period?”   Or do these convictions carry over and those who were once difficult to employ are now totally unemployable?  Or will the U.K. have the ban the box initiatives where job applicants will no longer be compelled to check the box in the affirmative for criminal convictions?

Can you riot all week and then claim you are being discriminated upon because a prospective employer is holding it against you that you have a criminal conviction?  Interesting questions.

I wonder if in the near future we will be asking them here.  In the USA.


New Zealand Watch Group Believes Workplace Violence Estimates Are Too Low

Fri, August 12th, 2011 - 4:47 am - By Gordon Basichis

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A recent study where one third of the New Zealand workforce reportedly had experienced workplace violence was considered too low an estimate by Haydn Olsen, director of an anti-occupational violence organization.  According to an article in the study may not have thoroughly factored in bullying and psychological violence along with physical violence.

According to the article,  ”The Massey University survey of 96 organisations found nearly a fifth of the 2466 cases of workplace violence they reported involved physical injury, and 175 cases led to lost time and/or hospitalisation.

This accounted for a total of 572 lost working days directly attributable to workplace violence.”

As with studies in the United States, the healthcare sector had the highest instances of workplace violence.  Like the United States, New Zealanders are reluctant to report workplace violence.   While the cost of workplace violence is estimated in the  multiple millions of dollars, in terms of loss of productivity, grievances and litigation.  Unattended workplace violence has a terrible negative impact on employee morale and will often worsen as time goes on.

A Reminder–Beginning October 1st, Connecticut Employers Will Be Restricted in Conducting Employment Credit Reports

Thu, August 11th, 2011 - 3:57 am - By Gordon Basichis

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A remidner to all Connecticut employers–

As we  wrote not long ago, Connecticut has joined a number of other states in restricting credit reports as a background check for employment screening.  Connecticut  has  joined with Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Illinois in limited the use of employment credit reports on the grounds they may discriminate against otherwise viable employment candidates.   Michigan and at least a dozen other states are considering similar measures.

Effective October 1, 2011, a new law in Connecticut

S.B. 361, signed by Governor Dannel Malloy, will prohibit certain employers from using credit reports in making hiring and employment decisions regarding existing employees or job applicants.

S.B. 361 applies to all employers in Connecticut with at least one employee and prohibits almost all employers from requiring job applicants or current employees to consent to a request for a credit report as a condition of employment.  Exceptions to the statute are: employers that are financial institutions as defined under law; credit reports required to be obtained by employers by law; and credit reports “substantially related to the employee’s current or potential job.” These “substantially related” reports are allowable if the position:

Is a managerial position that involves setting the direction or control of a business, division, unit or an agency of a business;

Involves access to personal or financial information of customers, employees or the employer, other than information customarily

provided in a retail transaction;

Involves a fiduciary responsibility to the employer, as defined under the law;

Provides an expense account or corporate debit or credit card;

Provides access to certain confidential or proprietary business information, as defined under the law; or

Involves access to the employer’s nonfinancial assets valued at $2,005 or more, including, but not limited to, museum and library

collections and to prescription drugs and other pharmaceuticals.


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