Archive for the ‘IMPRESS SERIES’ Category

Clearing the Air – The Deadly Facts about Legalized Marijuana

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

“The ugly truth is that Colorado was suckered. It was promised regulation and has been met with an industry that fights tooth and nail any restriction that limit its profitability.” – Ben Cort, Director of Professional Relations for the Center of Addiction Recovery and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Hospital

Since 2006, fatalities from vehicle crashes in Colorado involving drivers under the influence of marijuana were up 254%, according to an annual report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA). The report stated in 2014, 94 vehicular deaths were attributed to pot while the total was 37 in 2006. The past year total represented 19.3% of all deaths in fatal crashes. In comparison, the 2006 total of 37 accounted for 6.9% of the total fatalities.

MORE PEOPLE HOSPITALIZED

The report also stated that during the four year period from 2011 to 2014, marijuana related ER (emergency room) visits in Colorado increased from 8,198 to 18,257. This is more than 220%. The highest increases were among adults 18 to 25. The RMHIDTA is an offshoot of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The RMHIDTA is a federal program charged with providing assistance to federal, sated, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug trafficking regions in the United States.

MORE PEOPLE DYING

$1,398,916 is the total economic impact for a vehicular fatality. This includes property damage, medical, insurance, and productivity according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). $10,270 is the total economic impact for a drug related driving under the influence (DUI) offense. The costs for this offense is similar to those of an alcohol related one.

Percentage of all Colorado road deaths involving marijuana

Percentage of all Colorado road deaths involving marijuana

 

Judge Finds Staffing Company Liable for Near Maximum I-9 Fines for Wrong Verification

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Employer Solutions Staffing Group II, LLC (ESSG), a Minnesota-based professional employment organization, had its appeal to overturn more than $200,000 in civil penalties for I-9 paperwork violations rejected by a federal administrative law judge (ALJ). ESSG contested liability for over 240 I-9 paperwork violations found during an I-9 audit conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Earlier this year, Judge Ellen Thomas, an ALJ with the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), a division of the Executive Office of Immigration Review within the U.S. Department of Justice, issued a decision to uphold the $227,251.71 in civil penalties assessed by ICE.

Judge Thomas ruled ESSG violated I-9 regulations by directing its representative to complete 242 employer verifications based on the inspection of photocopies of identity and other employment eligibility documents relating to employees that she had never seen, based on contract partner representations that the documents were authentic and related to the subject employees.

According to Judge Thomas, nothing in law or regulation authorizes an employer to delegate the obligation to conduct an in-person inspection of employee verification documents unless the employer intends to rely upon the third party to complete and execute the attestation in Section 2 as its agent.

ESSG provides payroll and human resource services to clients for workers recruited, screened, hired and on-boarded for ESSG by temporary staffing companies such as Flexicorps, a temporary staffing company located in Larsen, Texas.

According to LegalAlerts’ website, “Under the parties’ outsourcing contract, Flexicorps oversaw new-hire completion of Section 1 of the I-9 forms, reviewed the originals of the verification documents each new hire provided and certified to ESSG that the documents appeared to be genuine and to relate to the subject employees. Flexicorps sent the partially completed I-9 forms along with photocopies of the employees’ verification documents to ESSG.”

Section 2 of the I-9 forms was completed by ESSG’s payroll manger based on her inspection of the photocopies of the employees’ documents. Photocopies of the documents were also used to complete the E-Verify process. The on-boarding process was deemed complete when E-Verify confirmed work eligibility.

Fentanyl Laced Heroin Killing People at a Record Pace

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

74 Overdoses reported in Chicago during a 72-hour Period

Heroin laced with fentanyl is killing people at a record rate across the nation, especially in Chicago. Recently, 74 people in the Windy City overdosed on fentanyl-laced heroin in a three day period. This is more than double the same three-day period last year. However, the problem is not limited to Chicago. According to the DEA, during a period from late 2013 through 2014, there were at least 700 fentanyl-related deaths nationwide. As a result, the DEA issued a nationwide health alert in March.

This increase in heroin overdoses is attributed to users obtaining heroin that was cut from fentanyl, which is a very strong synthetic narcotic, according to Diane Hincks, the emergency room director at Mount Sinai, which is a Chicago based hospital. Fentanyl is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), cutting fentanyl with street-sold heroin amplifies its potency to life-threatening levels. Effects can include respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma and death. The last major outbreak of fentanyl-related deaths took place between 2005 and 2007, killing more than 1,000 people across the country. Dozens in the Chicago area died of overdoses, stated the Chicago Tribune.

Screening Companies Pay $16.5 million in Fines, Penalties, and Restitution for Multiple Violations

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

TeleCheck Agrees to pay $3.5 million to settle FCRA Violations

TeleCheck Services, Inc., a Houston based consumer reporting agency (CRA), along with its associated debt-collection entity, TRS Recovery Services, Inc., have agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This settlement matches the second largest fine paid by Certegy Check Services, Inc. earlier this year for similar violations.

TeleCheck compiles consumers’ personal information and uses it to help retail merchants throughout the United States determine whether to accept consumers’ checks. Under the FCRA, consumers whose checks are denied based on information TeleCheck provided to the merchant have the right to dispute that information and have TeleCheck investigate and correct any inaccuracies.

The FTC’s complaint alleges, among other things, that TeleCheck did not follow proper dispute procedure, including refusing to investigate disputes. The complaint also alleges that TeleCheck failed to follow reasonable procedures to assure the maximum possible accuracy of the information it provided to its merchant clients as required by the FCRA, and failed to promptly correct errors on consumers’ reports.

In addition, the complaint alleges that TRS, which handles consumer debt taken on by TeleCheck and furnishes information about consumers to TeleCheck, violated the requirements of the FTC’s Furnisher Rule, which requires entities furnishing information to CRAs to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the information provided. The order settling the FTC’s charges requires TeleCheck and TRS to alter their business practices to comply with the requirements of the FCRA and the Furnisher Rule in the future. This case is part of a broader initiative to target the practices of data brokers, which often compile, maintain, and sell sensitive consumer information. Consumer reporting agencies like TeleCheck are data brokers that sell information to companies making important decisions about consumers, such as their ability to get credit or pay for goods and services by check.

Screening Companies Pay $13 million in Restitution and Civil Penalties

General Information Services and its affiliate, e-Background-checks.com Inc., agreed to pay $13 million in restitution and fines to settle charges by CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) that they violated FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) by failing to ensure their reports had accurate information about job applicants. According to the CFPB, the two companies did not have policies to ensure the accuracy of the information obtained by them for criminal history and civil records checks for people with common names since there was no middle name requirement and no audit process.

As a result, the CFPB stated that nearly 70 percent of complaints filed by job applicants about the criminal history in their background checks resulted in a change or correction. Job applicants reported that the errors included inaccurate criminal records, crimes that had been expunged or dismissed, and misdemeanors reported as felonies, according to the CFPB.

Although the South Carolina-based companies did not admit to wrongdoing, they did signed a consent order with the CFPB to pay $10.5 million or $1,000 per person to affected job applicants and a $2.5 million civil penalty. The companies, which generate more than 10 million job applicant reports annually, also agreed to establish a written process to ensure information obtained during their background checks were accurate.

THE GSN SOLUTION 
A minor mistake, a careless oversight or a small violation may not seem important, but when it comes to the background screening process these trivial errors have cost employers millions of dollars in fines, penalties, judgments, lawyer fees and lost time. As a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA), Global Safety Network (GSN) understands, follows and advises our clients on compliance and regulations while establishing a legally defensible process to ensure that even the small errors won’t cost you big bucks. Call GSN today to learn more about our Background Screening Solutions customized for your business and industry.

 

The Effects of Cocaine

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant, native to South America. It produces short term euphoria, energy, and talkativeness, in addition to potentially dangerous physical effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. – National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

GRAND FORKS, ND – Cocaine (COC), also known as benzoylmethylecgonine (BE), is a strong addictive stimulant mostly used as a recreational drug. An estimated 36 million Americans have used cocaine in the past, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). It is classified by the DEA as a Schedule II Controlled Substance. Cocaine is commonly snorted and inhaled or smoked in the form of crack-cocaine. Crack is simply a smokeable form of cocaine and gets its name because when smoked, the baking powder residue left in it crackles.

Essentially, any psychoactive drug hits the brain quicker when smoked than any other method. The heat eliminates the other ingredients, so the user gets high grade cocaine. The Crack trend really pushed the acceleration of cocaine use in the USA. Cocaine can also be injected into the veins; however, this is the least common method currently used. In 2013, there were 1.5 million current cocaine (including crack) users age 12 or older, according to NSDUH.

Effects of Cocaine
Mental effects, which can begin within seconds to minutes of use and last between five and ninety minutes, include loss of reality, feeling of euphoria, or agitation. Signs, Symptoms and Risks Physical signs, symptoms and risks may include:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Large pupils
  • High blood pressure and body temperature
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Lung problems, when smoked
  • Blood infections
  • Sudden cardiac death

An estimated 36 million Americans have used cocaine in the past. – NSDUH

Addiction
After only short period of use, there is a high risk that addiction will occur. It is estimated that one million users tried cocaine for the first time during the past year.

ICE Levees Hefty Fines to Small Companies for Paperwork Errors

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

“Employers need to understand that the integrity of their employment records are as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files or banking records. Much like the IRS uses audits as a deterrent strategy to prevent people from falsifying tax records, part of our strategy in conducting audits is to encourage businesses to comply with the law.” – Danielle Bennett, ICE Spokesperson

Subway, Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurants and Infosys Limited are just a few of the large companies that have been fined huge amounts due to violations discovered by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement) audits. Although, these fines made the headlines, it does not reflect the hundreds of small companies that received hefty fines. These fines were delivered mostly for paperwork errors and not for hiring illegal immigrants. If fact, when comparing the size of the companies, the fines for the smaller business owners were a greater percentage of annual receipts than the fines levied on Fortune 500 companies.

An analysis conducted by the Houston Chronicle of nearly 800 ICE audit cases – a majority were small companies – showed that “roughly half of the 117 companies fined were not specifically penalized for hiring illegal immigrants, but for problems with the employment verification paperwork they are required to fill out for new hires.”

In fact, of the $1.8 million fines reviewed in this study, the audits determined that one third of the companies fined had no workers with suspect documentation. Thus, the fines were for clerical errors. Furthermore, ICE also sought criminal charges or debarment from future government contracts in a handful of cases included in the records.

“The fines for poor bookkeeping are part of an overall “deterrent strategy” to keep employers from hiring illegal immigrants,” ICE officials said.

The GSN Solution

A minor mistake, a careless oversight or a small violation may not seem important, but when it comes to the Form I-9 and its verification process these trivial errors have cost employers millions of dollars in fines, penalties, lawyer fees and lost time. As a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA), Global Safety Network (GSN) understands, follows and advises our clients on compliance and regulations while establishing a legally defensible process to ensure that even the small errors won’t cost you big bucks. Call GSN today to learn more about our I-9 and eVerify Solutions customized for your business and industry.

Whole Foods Background Check Policy May Get “Canned” by Class Action

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

A proposed class action lawsuit accuses Whole Foods Market Group Inc. of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act with its employee background check notification methods, ruling the suit alleged Whole Foods’ liability release was included in a disclosure documentation. A Florida federal judged recently refused to dismiss the proposed class action.

The plaintiff claims the supermarket violates the FCRA with its practice of including a waiver and release of liability form along with a FRCA statute required document that notifies the job applicant a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes. “Employers seeking to run background checks must disclose their intentions to their prospective or current employees in a document that consists solely of the disclosure under the FCRA statute,” according to the plaintiff.

Whole Foods sought to dismiss the suit, arguing the plaintiff’s exhibits show that the supermarket gives its workers two separate forms, one with the disclosure and another with the liability release.

The U.S. District judge did not dismiss the proposed class action lawsuit stating he was bound by the facts alleged in the complaint, which claimed the forms should be considered one document because they were read and signed at the same time. The lawsuit argues “the current process isn’t clear and conspicuous.”

“Based on the allegations, with all inferences drawn in favor of the plaintiff, if both the disclosure and the consent forms combined and read as one document with a waiver and release included simultaneously with the disclosure, the complaint states a claim of release,” U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara wrote.

Furthermore, the plaintiff alleges “Whole Foods acted willfully under the FCRA because it knowingly or recklessly disregarded its statutory duty. The store was aware of the FCRA, but failed to comply with its requirements,” he said.

Again, the judge agreed with the plaintiff finding that “Whole Foods had access to legal advice and guidance from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and knew that its actions were inconsistent with that advice.” The plaintiff worked for Whole Foods in its Tampa, FL, location, until he was terminated in June 2013. The plaintiff is seeking to represent a putative (reputed) nationwide class of Whole Foods’ employees, former employees or prospective employees who were the subject of a consumer report procured by Whole Foods in the last five years. The checks were allegedly performed by LexisNexis Group.

The GSN Solution

A minor mistake, a careless oversight or a small violation may not seem important, but when it comes to the background screening process these trivial errors have cost employers millions of dollars in fines, penalties, judgments, lawyer fees and lost time.

As a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA), Global Safety Network (GSN) understands, follows and advises our clients on compliance and regulations while establishing a legally defensible process to ensure that even the small errors won’t cost you big bucks. Call GSN today to learn more about our Background Screening Solutions customized for your business and industry.

BMW $1.6 Million Settlement with EEOC Sends Red Flags on Broad Criminal Background Screening Policies

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC reached a $1.6 million settlement with the EEOC over the alleged disparate impact the company’s criminal background screeBMWning process had on African-American job applicants. The settlement, which occurred on September 8 of this year, indicates that employers should avoid overly “broad” or “blanket” screening policies to prevent legal liability.

According to Akin Gump of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners’ (BAPBS’) Government Relation committee, “The BMW settlement stemmed from a two-year-old lawsuit stemming from the company’s background check policy. The key terms of the settlement include BMW agreeing to pay $1.6 million in monetary relief to fifty-six claimants and to offer those claimants who want to return, the opportunity to return to work at the facility. By entering into the consent decree, BMW expressly denies liability and does not admit any wrongdoing.”

The incidents that led to the lawsuits and eventual settlement occurred in 2008 when BMW changed logistic contractors at is Spartanburg, SC, plant. As a result of the switch, BMW required the new contractor to conduct criminal background screenings on all existing logistics workers who reapplied to keep their jobs. A large number of African-American workers were not allowed to keep their jobs because, at the time, BMW’s criminal background screening guidelines barred employment to people with any convictions, a large number of African-American workers were not able to keep their jobs.

According to NAPBS, the consent decree sets forth these key requirements under which:

  • BMW is enjoined from use of the criminal background guidelines that were involved at the time of the incident.
  • BMW and its logistics provider may not decline to hire any job applicant or otherwise disqualify any individual in a logistics position because of “criminal arrests or charges of any type if such arrests or charges did not result in a conviction.”
  • They can, however, postpone an offer of employment if there is a pending charge, pending resolution.
  • BMW and its logistics provider must conduct an individualized assessment if they seek to disqualify any job applicant based on criminal history. Meaning they must provide written notice to the job applicant describing the criminal history which is at issue and an offer to the applicant to explain the conviction and their appropriateness for employment.
  • The above notice must be delivered by “reasonable means” and must afford the job applicant a period of at least 21 days during which time they can contact BMW or the logistics provider before an adverse employment decision is finalized.
  • BMW and its logistics provider must appoint an official to review all final decisions to decline to hire or otherwise disqualify an applicant due to criminal history.

The GSN Solution

A minor mistake, a careless oversight or a small violation may not seem important, but when it comes to the background screening process these trivial errors have cost employers millions of dollars in fines, penalties, judgments, attorney fees and lost time. As a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA), Global Safety Network (GSN) understands, follows, and advises our clients on compliance and regulations while establishing a legally defensible process to ensure that even the small errors won’t cost you big bucks. Call GSN today to learn more about our Background Screening Solutions customized for your business and industry.

Prevent Workplace Violence

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

“Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.”
– OSHA

GRAND FORKS, ND – On August 26, two members of a small town television news team were shot and killed during a live report. According to police, the alleged gunman was a former terminated employee who had displayed anger toward the pair in the past. WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed while conducting an on-air interview. The person being interviewed was also shot during the deadly incident. Her injuries were not life-threatening.

This is an example of how workplace violence affects not only employees but can involve clients, guests, vendors and visitors. Based on a 2010 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), over 10 percent of fatal workplace injuries were workplace homicides. In fact, the leading cause of death for women on the job is workplace homicide.

According to OSHA, despite many cases not being reported, nearly 2 million American workers each year report having been victims of workplace violence.

THE SOLUTION

Create a Workplace Violence policy in your organization and include the following items as a minimum:

  1. State that the company or organization maintains a zero tolerance policy for violent or aggressive behaviors in the workplace, including: threats of violence, intimidation or any type of harassment.
  2. Show that the company is committed to workplace safety. Senior managers need to support this approach so that the company environment and culture support zero tolerance for violence and aggression.
  3. Describe company procedures that should be followed if violent behavior is observed by anyone in the organization.
  4. Show specifically how to report violence, threats, intimidating, or aggressive behavior
  5. Provide a description of concerns, supported by observations, fact, and if evidence is available (including email or voicemail evidence of threats or overly aggressive demands), this should also be included.
  6. If threats are made: show the threat language as closely as possible to what was actually said (verbatim if possible).
  7. Show what disciplinary measures may be followed, up to and including termination of employment.
  8. Include the policy in employee handbooks so that all employees have access to this information and know what to do and more importantly who they need to inform if a co-worker or manager exhibits this type of behavior.
  9. Train employees annually to recognize the warning signs for violence.
  10. Work with a threat assessment professional to evaluate the level of threat before it becomes more serious. Threat assessment professionals can often help to diffuse the potential for violence.

“Through our effective risk mitigation programs that include background checks and drug / alcohol testing, GSN is helping our clients reduce the chances of violent behavior at work.” – Robert Peterson, Chief Executive Advisor for Greenberg Enterprises

THE BASICS

Starting with basics, employers should consider these practical steps toward workplace safety, each of which may not necessarily make sense for every employer:

  1. Install good lighting all around the employer’s premises.
  2. Provide adequate security in parking areas, common areas, stairwells, cafeterias, and lounges.
  3. Limit access to work areas.
  4. Discourage former employees from coming to visit.
  5. Install alarms and surveillance cameras, where appropriate.
  6. Arrange regular police checks or provide limited access to the premises during high-risk hours (e.g., late at night and early in the morning).
  7. Educate supervisors about personality characteristics that are correlated with potentially violent employees.
  8. Train supervisors in conflict resolution and observation skills.
  9. Periodically survey employee perceptions about working conditions, changes in work loads, equality of treatment, and problems with the work environment not addressed by management.
  10. Develop and implement a policy concerning violence and harassment that encourages the reporting of all incidents to the employee’s direct supervisor or a designated management official. All reports should be documented, as well as the findings of any investigation. Observations and statements by the individual accused of misconduct also should be recorded. When appropriate, local law enforcement authorities should be notified.
  11. Once the investigation is completed, take appropriate action to counsel, discipline, or terminate the offending violent employee as soon as possible.
  12. Provide counseling for employees who have been laid off or fired. Offer outplacement or Employee Assistance Program services if possible. These services have been shown to soften the psychological impact of job loss.

Above the Water Line: Katrina Remembered

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
It started like any other Sunday morning. But unlike all the Sunday mornings before, within 24 hours, Katrina, a category 5 hurricane with winds of 175 miles per hour, took aim at the Crescent City.

Hurricane Katrina, a category 5 storm with winds of 175 miles per hour, took aim at the Crescent City in August 2005.

For those of us who grew up in the Greater New Orleans area, we can count on the facts that the Mississippi River will rise again and powerful hurricanes will once again strike our shores. But we can also count on the fact that when faced with adversity, the people from this area will always rise to the occasion.

To us, life is all about faith, family, football, and food.

We know how to laugh.
We know how to love.
We know how to cry.

To sum it up, we know how to live. And more importantly, we know when something threatens who we are, we will show them who we are. No matter what we face. No matter how bad it gets. Be it from nature or manmade. We won’t give up. We won’t surrender. We will always rebuild bigger, better, and stronger.

Together, we will rise above the waterline. Together, we will make a difference.

GSN Makes a Difference

Global Safety Network (GSN), a national leader in providing risk mitigation services, is proud to serve the people of the Greater New Orleans Area. We are dedicated to helping this region build back bigger, better, and stronger after every setback.

This same dedication to local communities is shared by all of the GSN teams. Whether it is in New Orleans, Las Vegas or the Dakotas, the GSN staff understands the solutions needed to overcome the unique challenges faced by local businesses and families.

Through our risk mitigation services, we can reduce or eliminate exposures that can impact the safety and security of your business. Together, we will always rise to the occasion. Together, we will MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

RISK MITIGATION SERVICES:

  • Background Screening
  • Drug & Alcohol Program Management
  • On-Line File Management
  • Occupational Medicine
  • Product Store
  • Safety & Compliance
  • Training & Education