Clean Slate Laws: What Employers Need to Know

It’s no secret to hiring managers that fair chance hiring laws have gained momentum in recent years. However, confusion remains about how these affect an organization’s onboarding process throughout employment screening. Some, such as the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019, have been enacted at a federal level, while others differ from state to state, such as “Ban the Box” laws. Clean slate laws are another prominent example of the latter, which we will cover here to keep you and your team informed whether these laws have been codified in your state or legislators are considering doing so.

What Are Clean Slate Laws?

A “Clean Slate” law refers to state legislation passed to allow criminal records to be cleared or sealed from individual records if they stay crime-free for a specified duration. This means that those records don’t appear on background reports. However, not all expungements are automatic in all states, occasionally relying on the individual petitioning the court instead.

A notable exception to these laws occurs in states that have legalized the recreational selling of marijuana. Here, provisions may be put in place to seal non-violent cannabis-related convictions automatically.

How Do They Affect Employers?

Limiting information about applicants may worry some organizations from a risk management perspective, but it’s important not to let it deter hiring efforts. It is still possible to provide a safe workplace as many high-level and violent crimes are not eligible to be hidden or removed. Concerns of recidivism, while valid, should be tempered, as studies show that the risk for re-offense of expungement recipients is very low.

By removing that information from the equation, these laws make it easier for employers who find it difficult not to create unconscious bias when they see criminal records that typically would disqualify the individual from employment. This is also helpful in preventing backlash related to negligent hiring, as withheld criminal information can’t be used as an example of why the individual shouldn’t have been hired.

Clean Slate States

As of this writing (updated November 2023), twelve states have passed clean slate laws. Click a state in the table below to view the associated bill:

STATE

YEAR SIGNED INTO LAW

Pennsylvania

2018

Utah

2019

New Jersey
Michigan

2020

Connecticut
Delaware

2021

Virginia
Oklahoma

2022

Colorado
Minnesota

2023

California

Employer’s Responsibility

If your state already has a clean slate law in place, it’s important to stay up to date on any changes and adjust your screening policy accordingly. Pay close attention to the legislation that enacted these regulations and any amendments applied, consulting your legal counsel if issues arise. If your state has not established these laws, keep an eye out for the introduction of such bills as campaigns are being run in Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oregon, and Texas to further the adoption of programs like these.

Regardless of your company’s state, it’s important to remember that background screening is still crucial to effective onboarding. High-level crimes, those on the federal or international levels, and those linked to the National Sex Offender Registry will continue to be uncovered in any state.

For more information on sealed and expunged records, read Do Expunged Records Show Up on Background Checks?

 

Why is Rescreening Important?

These days most organizations typically have a standard process for screening staff prior to onboarding. According to a 2021 study by Aptitude Research, nearly 80% of organizations are screening staff members before onboarding.

What happens to these staff after you onboard them? Sure, many HR Departments have a policy in place that may require team members to self-report incidents, but how do you know that’s really happening?

In the past decade, rescreening staff has become a hot topic. More and more companies are minimizing the gaps in the safety of their staff by rescreening, and it’s only growing in popularity.

Why should you rescreen?

Rescreening and monitoring staff backgrounds can be considered for various reasons. These can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Promotion or change in responsibilities: Employees gain access to company finances, credit cards, or building keys.
  • Maintaining company standards: You screened your staff or volunteers before onboarding them, and now you want to ensure they are being held to those same standards.
  • Industry or compliance requirements: Many industries like healthcare, education, or transportation have ongoing screening requirements.

We see organizations with a variety of industry requirements or internal policies in place. This could include annual rescreening of all team members; some conduct it every two to three years and others utilize ongoing monitoring solutions that are run monthly. Others only do it when there is a promotion or change in the company structure. No matter your process…

Don’t forget compliance!

Any rescreening or continuous monitoring must still comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Ensure your organization is following federal and state laws regarding disclosure and authorization. Additionally, if the results of a rescreen create a scenario where you will separate from that individual, be sure you are following the adverse action process.

If you want to include authorization to allow for ongoing screening throughout their time with the company, this must be stated clearly in the initial disclosure. As always, we recommend consulting your legal counsel to ensure your forms are compliant and up to date.

I want to rescreen; what are my options?

When it comes to rescreening, One Source has several options:

  1. Batch Upload: We work with you to establish a rescreening package to meet your standards. Whether this is the complete criminal background, healthcare exclusions, motor vehicle records, or something else, we can customize it to fit your needs. Applicants can then be uploaded directly into our system to be run. Frequency is then up to you.
  2. Continuous Criminal Monitoring: This is an automated search of over 650 million records, including a Global Report, Multi-Court Jurisdictional Database, and National Sex Offender Registry search. The individuals you enroll in monitoring will automatically search for new records at the beginning of each month. Results will be verified by our team to ensure accuracy and the report will be provided back to you.
  3. Other Monitoring Solutions: Outside of criminal monitoring, One Source can also monitor through other screening solutions, including healthcare monitoring and social media monitoring.

Ready to get started?

Incorporating rescreening or continuous monitoring into your screening process could be the difference in creating a safer environment for your organization. To keep the trust between you and your team members, make sure your continuous monitoring policy is clearly stated when they are onboarded, and then remind them on an annual basis. When you start your continuous monitoring, you want to have shared expectations between you and your team members. If you are interested in learning more or would like to add this service to your process, contact us.

For more information on background screening, check out more of our blog or get in touch today.

End User’s Crash Course: The Fair Credit Reporting Act

Background checks are nothing new, and are now essentially customary in the recruiting and hiring world. Most companies run checks on all new applicants for every open position and even those up for promotions.

So while screenings are a normal part of the onboarding process, keep background check regulations in mind to protect your organization and applicants. Designed to protect the rights and information of job applicants, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) carries immense influence.

When followed properly, the FCRA will help you make informed choices while protecting your candidates. When broken, however, the FCRA gives people the power to levy lawsuits against organizations. To protect your business, make excellent hires and avoid potential legal trouble, brush up on your knowledge with this End User’s Crash Course on Fair Credit Reporting Act.

What is the FCRA?

The FCRA outlines the responsibilities of consumer reporting agencies and the rights of those undergoing background and credit checks. It requires consumer reporting agencies to report accurate and complete information to businesses when they evaluate candidates. It also allows applicants to see their reports and dispute any inaccurate information.

Under FCRA rules, background check agencies have a duty to be thorough and accurate in their reporting. Applicants also have the right to advocate for their reputation and true identity. The burden of the FCRA isn’t just on reporting agencies, however. End Users must uphold the rights of their applicants in order to stay FCRA compliant.

How can I be compliant?

End Users must follow certain procedures when recruiting and hiring to comply with the FCRA:

  • Inform applicants you are going to screen them, then get written consent from every applicant to begin the background check process.
  • Explain what information your background reports gather and why you need it, but only if an explanation does not cause confusion.
  • Be aware of your state’s screening restrictions and adhere to them. “Ban-the-box” laws have become more common in recent years.
  • If you are going to take adverse action—such as rejection or termination—due to the content of a background report, you must follow the adverse action process. If adverse action is taken under the permissible purpose of employment (including volunteer), this includes sending pre-adverse and adverse action letters, a copy of their report, and FCRA Rights.
  • Understand that applicants have the right to dispute their report at any time. When you send a pre-adverse action letter under the permissible purpose of employment (including volunteer), you have to allow a reasonable amount of time—typically around five days—for the individual to dispute their report.

If you follow these steps, you will stay within FCRA rules and avoid negligent hiring suits.

What are the consequences of non-compliance?

The number of lawsuits brought under the FCRA reached an all-time high in 2021 and has continually increased every year since 2011. If an end user and their consumer reporting agency fail to meet FCRA standards, they risk an expensive lawsuit.

Because background screening is often part of standard onboarding processes, organizations can repeat the same FCRA infraction multiple times. This can lead to costly class-action lawsuits from multiple parties.

Eliminate the possibility of FCRA non-compliance suits and maintain your responsibilities by partnering with a trusted background screening agency. One Source is FCRA compliant and here to help you navigate its regulations easily. That was your End User’s Crash Course on Fair Credit Reporting Act. Contact One Source Client Relations to learn more about our services.

Do Expunged Records Show Up on Background Checks?

When running a criminal record check on a potential employee, volunteer or contractor, you want to learn as much about them as possible. The contents of a criminal record can determine what positions an applicant can fill, or if they can secure a position at all. It makes sense that you want the most comprehensive information as you can find. This will of course help you make the best decisions for your organization. However, not all records are public. Under some circumstances, people can have criminal records sealed or expunged.  But do expunged records show up on background checks? Expunged charges are erased from the record entirely, and sealed records still exist but are inaccessible to the public.

Generally, sealed and expunged records will not appear on a background check. With the help of One Source, you can still make informed decisions about your applicants without sealed or expunged records. Here, we’ll explain what it means to get a record expunged or sealed. We’ll also discuss why those records won’t show up on a report and how you can maintain ethics while onboarding.

What does it mean to get records expunged or sealed?

After a person is convicted with a crime, they may ask the court to remove that conviction from public record. If the court grants a request to expunge a conviction or arrest, all records of the event are completely erased. If the court decides to seal a record, then the record still exists, but it can only be accessed with a court order.

People try to remove records to get a fresh start after a difficult time or to move past a mistake. Requests to erase or seal a record is reviewed by a court. If passed, the records disappear to reinforce their commitment to starting over. This demonstrates that an outside party believes this person deserves a clean record.

Why don’t erased or sealed records show up in reports?

It is unethical for background check agencies to report on convictions that have been purposefully erased. This is why expunged records don’t show up on background checks. Individuals usually earn the right to get their records cleared, so it’s not fair to report on crimes that the court deemed erasable.

Just because it’s unethical to report on hidden records doesn’t mean it never happens, however. Courts will clear a record in their official system, but that record may still remain in the databases of some consumer reporting agencies. This means an erased record could result in a screening report on accident, which could harm an applicant’s chance of being onboarded.

At One Source, we search real-time criminal records directly from the courts. This means we provide you the most current information on an individual or record. We want to give you the best understanding of who is applying for your organization while respecting the wishes of the court and the applicant. Sifting through criminal records can be tricky and pose ethical issues, but One Source has your back and will help you make the best choices. We can help you put together a screening plan that’s right for your organization—contact our Client Relations team today.

As always, if an applicant identifies information in their report which they believe is inaccurate or incomplete, they have the right to dispute the information on their report. Learn more about the dispute process with One Source here.

Ban the Box Updates: What Employers Need to Know

This article was originally published in June 2022. Updated November 2023.

By now, most HR professionals and hiring managers have heard of Ban the Box and the legislation that’s sweeping the nation. So, what are you doing to prepare for these changes? Are you confident that your onboarding process is up to date and compliant with the laws in place? Here we will help guide you in the direction to make sure your team is prepared for what is to come.

What are Ban the Box Laws?

In simplest terms, Ban the Box means that employers cannot ask on a job application or in certain parts of the hiring process about criminal history. For example, blanket statements like, “have you ever been convicted of a crime.”

These laws aim to put employers’ focus on applicants’ qualifications first, without blanket no-hire policies due to past criminal activity. In most cases, employers must wait until a conditional offer of employment is extended before asking about criminal history or conducting a background check.

On December 20, 2021, Congress enacted the Fair Chance Act. The purpose of the act is to give previous offenders a chance to find work in the United States Federal Government. The Fair Chance Act will “Ban the Box” asking about arrest and conviction history on job applicants for most Federal agencies and contractors. These questions and the background check cannot be started until the conditional job offer has been extended.

What steps can you take to be compliant?

Navigating Ban the Box laws can be confusing. We recommend, as a first step, consulting with your legal counsel. They’ll be able to look at your company profile, industry, and location to see what Ban the Box laws apply to you.

You’ll want to take that information and then review your job descriptions and applications. You’ll also want to be sure your hiring managers only ask about the criminal history during the correct time in the hiring process.

Whether these laws will apply to your organization depends on several factors:

  • Company size
  • Location(s) you hire in (city, county, and state)
  • Industry (different regulations can apply to education, childcare, health care, law enforcement, etc.)
  • Public vs private employer

Currently, 37 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted similar laws.

While public employers appear to be moving to Ban the Box quicker than private employers, the lists continue to grow.

Currently, 15 states have Ban the Box laws in place for private employers. These include:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Furthermore, over 20 cities and counties have Ban the Box laws in place for private employers. Some of these include:

Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL; Columbia, MO; DeSoto, TX; District of Columbia; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Montgomery County, MD; New York­, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; Prince George’s County, MD; Rochester, NY; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Spokane, WA; St. Louis, MO; Suffolk County, NY; Waterloo, IA; and Westchester County, NY.

Check out the National Employment Law Project’s (NELP) detailed chart to see whether your city, county, or state has a policy or law.

What’s next?

It’s important to remember that background checks are still a crucial part of the hiring process. Not even the Federal Government, which has adopted Ban the Box entirely, is removing background screening from their hiring process. The safety of your employees, customers, and your organization’s reputation is still essential.

As these laws continue to sweep the country, it’s always best practice to ensure that your background check process is updated. Then, when it’s time to run the background check after a conditional job offer, you can keep things moving quickly.

One Source always recommends reviewing these five areas:

  • Background Check Policy
  • Disclosure
  • Authorization
  • Quality of Data
  • Adverse Action

Reach out to our team if you have any questions on ways you can follow compliance laws and regulations. Or you can learn more about how to stay compliant through our blog, Blueprint to a Compliant Background Check Process.

 

What Non-profits can Benefit from a Reliable Background Check Provider

Non-profit organizations understand, now more than ever, that accomplishing their mission rests on the shoulders of the people they hire and the volunteers that serve. Gone are the days when anyone willing to show up qualifies to represent the organization and its mission.

To safeguard against risks posed by employees and volunteers, most non-profit organizations have implemented background screening in their onboarding programs. They may conduct background checks internally by accessing state criminal record repositories and/or inexpensive “instant” online background checks or partnering with a professional background check provider.

Though not all background check providers are created equal, there are some notable benefits for non-profits partnering with the right one.

So, what do nonprofits need to look for in a reliable screening provider?
We recommend the three E’s – Expertise, Efficiency, and Effectiveness

Expertise

A reliable background check provider is a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA). To be accredited means they are an expert in the screening industry and the local, state, and federal laws that govern it. Be sure to partner with a background check company that follows the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA which includes numerous regulations that govern the onboarding practices for employers and non-profits included, across the United States.

Efficiency

Non-profits are tasked with being good stewards of their money and maximizing every dollar they receive. They want to devote their time, talent and treasure to their mission which may leave little to spend on other top priorities like quality staffing and onboarding procedures. While cost-efficiency in background screening is critical, “the cheaper the better” rarely rings true and may increase risk as the cost of the background check is not always indicative of its quality or accuracy.
An efficient background check provider should have these services to provide you with the answers you need to make an informed decision:

  • Automation Capabilities
  • Mobile-friendly Processes
  • Customizable Solutions
  • Real-time Data

Effectiveness

Non-profits need thorough background checks to maximize their recipients’ safety and fulfill their mission. The reports need to comply with FCRA and similar regulations. Above all, the reports should be fully customizable to serve the unique needs of every organization. The right background check provider aligns with the non-profit’s values and empowers its goal of onboarding volunteers and employees through informed decisions.

By entrusting their screening to a reliable background check provider nonprofit leaders can provide an additional layer of protection for their organizations and those they serve.

If you are interested in learning about best practices in volunteer screening, make sure to read our blog. Whether you’re considering volunteer screening for the first time or you’re a well-seasoned veteran, learn how to create an efficient screening process for your volunteers, here.

3 Background Check Budgeting Tips

Every organization’s budget is as unique and specialized as the organization itself. When determining the budget allotment for screening services, financial teams must consider the potential volume of screenings they will conduct and the specific checks they will require. Different industries have a wide variety of hiring and turnover expectations, and all of this must be accounted for in a background check budget.

When these expectations are measured and fine-tuned to each organization, they help maximize background checks while staying within financial margins. Even organizations that do not typically set aside funds for screenings should make a habit of budgeting for compliant background checks. The cost of making an uninformed hiring choice always exceeds the cost of screening an excellent hiring choice.

Here are 3 background check budgeting tips so an organization can keep security and informed hiring in mind while budgeting.

 

Tailor screenings to job descriptions

No matter how much room you have in your budget for hiring and recruitment, your HR department can keep background check costs low by carefully choosing what job titles require certain screenings. Some positions may not need screening beyond a basic background check, and others may need more in-depth checks based on the duties of the job.

For example, you could run a standard background check on every applicant but only perform driving record checks on applicants you are certain will drive for work. By performing an audit of your available positions and deciding the amount of screening each job needs, you can save money and only order specialized checks when they’re absolutely necessary.

 

Understand your industry’s workforce turnover

Hiring new team members can be exciting, but it includes extra—sometimes unexpected—costs. You have to consider the time and money it takes to recruit, hire, train. and screen applicants. By knowing the average turnover of your industry, you can better predict your hiring costs and avoid unforeseen expenses.

Some workforces can turn over more than 20 percent of their team each year, especially in times of growth. Base your turnover expectations on your previous year, then proactively set your screening budget to accommodate growth. As the year unfolds, keep track of your real turnover rate to make more accurate predictions for the next year. If you land on a relatively accurate estimate of your hiring costs, you can make better use of your background check provider’s services.

 

Manage your risks

The best thing your organization can do is save money, minimize risk and build a constructive culture. Background checks will help you make hiring choices that best align with your organization’s mission and values. When you budget for screening services, your investment is returned through a reliable, trustworthy workforce..

By properly screening each of your applicants, you’ll avoid the cost of negligent hiring and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) noncompliance lawsuits. If you would like to learn more about how background checks can fit into your organization’s budget, contact the One Source Client Relations Team.

3 Reasons Why Companies Should Utilize Social Media Checks

The gold standard in background screening has traditionally been the pre-employment background check on a candidate before extending an offer. Times have changed, though, and so has the information available to onboarding managers.

While it’s important to know if your potential hire has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, falsified employment, or education information, etc., you may also want a glimpse at any possible behavioral issues the candidate exhibits that could put your organization, clients, or team members at risk.

A great way to gather this information is through Social Media Screening. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or a scan of media and news outlets, it feels almost natural to pursue someone’s social media for a closer look into their life. Here are three reasons why many of our clients utilize Social Media Screening.

Enhance Safety Within the Organization

It’s crucial, and social media checks can aid in this process during onboarding. These checks offer information on applicants’ social media accounts to provide a more precise picture of their behaviors and personality online and limit the risk of onboarding those who don’t align with the basic code of conduct or your core values. Illegal activity, violence, or sexually explicit material posted on their accounts is flagged, shared on the report, and sent to the onboarding manager to review.

Prevents Potential Discrimination Accusations

Outsource. Outsource. Outsource. Outsourcing your social media screening can help diminish potential workplace discrimination during the onboarding process. Scrolling through an applicant’s account can put you in a sticky situation if you try to do the screenings yourself. You want to make sure you have an unbiased view so you don’t encounter compliance issues.

It can also go the other way. Suppose an applicant’s account shows potential issues involving race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, or age discrimination. Social Media checks will flag the content for review, so you don’t risk onboarding that individual.

Prevents Reputation Risks

Your team members are the face of your company and what you stand for. When they aren’t at work, anything they do or say can reflect on your company, good or bad. There is a lot of pressure for companies to be consistent with their policies and values with an online presence. Social media checks can show how an individual presents themselves to the internet – meaning you can see a report of any flagged content that might not align with your company’s values and could make your company look bad.

To learn more about Social Media Screening, check out Should social media checks be included in screenings or contact our Client Relations Team.

Personal Identifiable Information (PII) Protocol Updates

Tightening access and privacy on personal identifiable information (PII) is always top of mind in the screening industry. In response to the national trend to increase PII privacy, adjustments are being made, implementing stricter PII protocols for their courthouses. Some are already in effect, and others start in January 2022. Learn what states are impacted and how this affects the screening industry.

Where will you find policy changes?

In September of 2021, California began redacting date of birth PII from their public access terminals in the courthouses. It is essential to know that this information is still on the hard copy court file. As for the online court records accessible to the public, those records have date of birth PII removed. 

Note: This rule is not new to California; it is now being complied with by the courts within the state.

In addition to California, Michigan will begin redacting the consumer’s date of birth from court records beginning January 2022. While the entire state is scheduled to redact the date of birth on records by January 2022, some Michigan counties have already started implementing this change.

How does this impact the screening industry?

With states redacting PII, this will cause inevitable delays and the potential for additional paperwork. The Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) requires consumer reporting agencies to have more identifiers than just a name; this will add more time to reports when researching possible records in those states.

Suppose the court allows additional research to be conducted. In that case, this is usually completed by a record researcher with boots on the ground, meaning a physical person is going into the courthouse to request the records physically, causing a ripple effect of extended delays. Some cases in the court may require a signed release from the consumer.

Note: One Source will always communicate what is necessary from our clients to complete a search.

If you are interested in learning more about this ever-changing landscape, here are a few links to discussions within the industry.

  • Read about the Michigan redaction from the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) here.
  • Read about the California redaction from the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) here.
  • Listen to industry-recognized professional and host of the Background Check Radio, Kevin Bachman’s podcast here.

We are unsure if other states or municipalities will follow suit. Stay connected to One Source to stay up to date on the screening industry dynamic.

5 Reasons Why You Should Get a Personal Background Check

Aren’t we all looking for a leg up when on the job hunt? Simply knowing a little more about yourself might be the boost you need when walking into an interview.

Suppose you aren’t sure you know what is on your criminal record, motor vehicle record, and/or any other legal criteria. Whether you are new to the job market, diving back in after many years, or just curious, it’s a good idea to make sure you know what might show up on your background report.

Five reasons why you should get started with a personal background check:

  1. Avoid Surprises– When you run a personal background check on yourself, you eliminate the element of surprise when asked questions about your background.
  2. Check for Accuracy– Taking a deep dive into the internet won’t always give you accurate answers. Searching on public databases may give you some information about yourself, but the information has not been verified. We recommend working with a reliable background check company (like One Source) to receive accurate real-time, original source answers.
  3. Be Proactive– By running a personal search, you can check if the information on your report is correct and up to date. If you find inaccurate information, you can work to get things cleared up to ensure you are disclosing information to the potential employer accurately when asked.
  4. Get a Competitive Edge – In this day of age, you need any advantage you can get when searching for a job. Go above and beyond. Know what is on your background check to be prepared to answer any question that may come up during an interview.
  5. Peace of Mind– Job hunting is stressful enough. So, before you even start the interview process, choose to put your success first. Receive accurate answers from a reliable screening source.

Getting ahead of potential concerns and being proactive might make more of a positive impression on your potential employer. Overshadowing anything questionable in your past. Run a personal background check with One Source to know you’re receiving compliant and thorough reporting.

If you are interested in running a personal background check, start here!

Want to learn more about One Source? Check out our solutions page to see how we can help empower others with informed decisions. Connect with One Source on our social media LinkedIn, Facebook, & Twitter.