The Times Editorial on Employment Screening Background Checks

Wed, August 1st, 2012 - 6:08 am - By Gordon Basichis

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Last week,  the New York Times ran an editorial regarding employment screening and how employment background checks are often inaccurate and cause otherwise innocent people their chances for employment.   The editorial requested that the supervising agencies get a tighter control around the CRA’s or Consumer Reporting Agencies.    Upon reading the editorial, more than a few recruiters and employers, to say nothing of Consumer Reporting Agencies,  had their proverbial bowels in a uproard.

According to the Times Editorial…”Background reports often list the same offense many times, making it appear as if the applicant has an extensive record. Worse still, companies sometimes fail to do the basic checking necessary to distinguish among different people who have the same name.

………..The federal government clearly needs to step in. It should require companies to be federally registered, outline standards for accuracy, make sure that job applicants have a reasonable time to respond to erroneous reports and seek monetary and other penalties from companies that flout the law.”

This is an excellent point.  But the Fair Credit Reporting Act already recommends standards.   For any criminal record found in a database search, both employer and CRA should order the country criminal records search to verify where the information on the database is accurate.  As databases are just that, databases, they are far from perfect instruments.  As such, all information should be carefully reviewed and then verified.  As the county criminal searches are the most accurate, it is incumbent to order the country criminal search and compare information.   If the county criminal records verify the information on the criminal database search then the employer has valid grounds to consider the criminal records.

But often records have been sealed or expunged.  If this is the case, then the CRA is not supposed to report any records and the employer should not consider records found on a database.  As well as records being expunged, sometimes the sentence has been reduced or the candidate as completed court ordered community services, detox programs, or anything else that would cause a reconsideration of the initial charges.  If the charges were dropped or the sentence reduced, this must be considered.

And most importantly, with common names, make sure that the records shown on the database can be legitimately confirmed that they belong to your candidate.  Often database searches will not reveal the date of birth or any identifiers that enable the employer to compare with its candidates.   Joe Brown can be your Joe Brown or one of five thousand “Joe Brown’s” with criminal records.   On one hand any employer wants to be aware of a candidate with criminal records.  But on the other hand, the employer does not want to accuse an innocent party.

Finally, the CRA must have researchers  who actually know how to read.  A dying art in some places as more schools, even college persist in sending out into the workforce hordes of functional illiterates.   Read and compare identifiers.  Is there a date of birth match, a middle name match?   Is there an address match?    Is the spelling correct?

Of course, it’s been our experience that certain recruiter and employers are content to just go with a criminal database search.  When reminded it’s incumbent upon them to conduct the county criminal search, some just shrug it off.   Be it budget consciousness or impatience to move on to the next candidate, recruiters and employers can pass over this vital aspect of background searches.   Simply put, most just don’t want to spend the money.

And that’s a mistake.  Bottom line, it’s a few bucks to verify database hits with county criminal records searches.  It’s money well spent that can prevent serious liability issues.

Big Spike in Colorado Background Checks for Firearms

Thu, July 26th, 2012 - 5:43 am - By Gordon Basichis

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I can’t help but find it interesting but after that terrible shooting in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, background checks for gun purchases have spike some forty percent.   I am not saying this is good or bad, but I do find the reacting to this tragedy where 12 died and 59 were injured.

Like most, I have read yet again the arguments pro and con for gun control.  Nothing new has been said, and each side typically climbs upon its soapbox and spouts the same argument we already know.   Personally, I don’t believe that gun control would ever prevent this type of nut job from acquiring firearms.  Take his nut job buddy in Norway, a nation with strict gun laws…he was able to massacre some 77 persons before being taken into custody.  So, while I do believe in certain forms of gun control– and in Colorado it is legally mandated that the buyer undergo a background check– I do not believe it will prevent the determined hoodlum or homicidal maniac from getting access to weapons.

On the other hand, the argument that an armed movie theater would have prevented this homicidal lunatic from killing so many people, is another concept based in fantasy.   It has already been reported there was chaos and uncertainty with many thinking this gunmen was part of the show.  Given the confusion, the smoke, the multiple gunshots with the concern that there may be more than one shooter, people screaming, fleeing, any number of distractions in a dark theater, had armed patrons drawn down on the gunmen, the body count may well have been much, much higher.

According to the report on CNN.com…”Data supplied by by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation shows that from Friday through Sunday, a total of 2,887 people were approved to buy firearms. That’s a 43% increase over the previous Friday through Sunday, when 2,012 background checks cleared.”

I don’t know what all this means, really.  People are afraid the government will crack down on gun buying and they rush to get theirs before the ban takes effect?   Maybe.  But then the other argument, people feel unsafe and insecure, after such a slaughter, and rush to buy weapons in order to protect themselves and their loved ones.  Equally valid.

For now, I will leave it to conjecture.

New Record for Workers Disability

Tue, July 24th, 2012 - 5:25 am - By Gordon Basichis

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It’s still a sluggish economy with new indications it may be slowing down even more.  One sign, not a good one, is that more than 8 million workers have applied or are on disability.

According to CNSNews.com….”The 8,753,935 workers who took federal disability insurance payments in July exceeded the population of 39 of the 50 states. Only 11 states—California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina and New Jersey—had more people in them than the number of workers on the federal disability insurance rolls in July.”

The ratio of people working as opposed to people now on disability is now 16 to one.

Employers Dealing With Expenses Fraud

Fri, July 20th, 2012 - 12:45 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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Most people at least know someone who has padded his business expenses and filed for “creative” reimbursements on their expense accounts.  In some cases, employers do not have much oversight.  And in cases with which I have been familiar, often the employers don’t care or turn a blind eye, thinking it’s a better way to offer raises without having to pay the additional taxes and benefits.  In fact, if anything, it’s a tax write-off.

Padding your business expenses can be regarded as a hallowed tradition with some employees.  Having worked in show business for quite some time I have seen some real eye opening indulgences written off on expense accounts.   Things that could be considered business friendly, if at all, in only the loosest interpretation.

According to an article in Fresh Business Thinking….”Ernst & Young’s Fraud Investigation & Disputes Services team has released research showing employees consider the fiddling of expenses as more serious than stealing physical company property (20%), drinking during work (13%) and breaching of licensing arrangements (10%). Only using drugs at work (33%) was considered the more serious of these offences.

Despite recent high profile prosecutions the research of 1000 middle managers found the exposure to risk remains high, with only one in five expressing zero-tolerance of intentional overstatement.”

So overstating business expenses is quite a consideration.  The Ernst and Young Report reiterates what I noted earlier, that once upon a time, padding expense accounts was overlooked as a viable means of offering pay raises without dealing with the various taxes.   But now, after the economic recession, the practice warrants greater scrutiny.  Even middle level employees have been getting into the act, increasing their personal incomes through fraudulent business expenses.

It should be also be noted that larger amounts of money posted on expense accounts could indicate bribery and kickbacks.  Bribery is embarrassing and, worse, illegal.  All sorts of laws against it.  Which is why it fails to brighten the day of any employer who discover, after the fact that its employees have been caught in a bribery scandal.   When breaking headlines blast this type of malfeasance all across the various news media platforms, you can rest assured business will suffer.

Still, thirty six percent of the UK businessmen would overspend on their accounts if it meant developing new business.

Padding business expenses has always been a two way street, largely for the reasons cited.  Largely, because nearly everybody is doing it.  Only one in five respondents to the survey claimed they have a zero tolerance policy.  And who knows if they are telling the truth?  Twenty-five percent openly said they would tolerate over-billing on expenses as long as it is not out of control.  And seven percent would accept claims that were more than $150.US dollars.

Now this survey was conducted in the UK.  So the question is, are the employees with the UK companies more flagrant, or if there was a similar survey conducted in the United States would policies toward expense padding be  more liberal or more constraining?   I think you can figure out that one for yourself.

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