Archive for October, 2015

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.

Vehicle Crashes are a Leading Cause of Teenage Deaths

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

National Teen Driver Safety Week October 18-24, 2015

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teenage deaths in the US, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency reported in 2013 there were over 2,600 teenagers (15-19 year old) killed in fatal crashes with teenage drivers. An estimated 130,000 were injured. Despite these alarming facts, a recent survey conducted by NHTSA showed only 25% of the parents questioned had a serious talk with their kids about safe driving and the five key dangers of driving. These dangers include the adverse effects of alcohol, not wearing seat belts, texting while driving, speeding, and extra passengers. NHTSA says that even if parents think their kids don’t hear them, they do. They say all parents should discuss the “5 to Drive” – Set the rules before your teenage drivers hit the road.

Remember the “5 to Drive” Tips from the NHTSA

  1. No Drinking and Driving. Set a good example by not driving after drinking. Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and driving should never mix no matter your age. Teen drivers are at a greater risk of death in alcoholrelated crashes compared to drivers in all other age groups, even though they’re too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol. Nationally in 2013, almost one out of five (19 percent) of the teen drivers (15 to 19 years old) involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.
  2. Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Every Front Seat and Back. Lead by example. If you wear your seat belt every time you’re in the car, your teen is more likely to follow suit. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, no matter how far or how fast they are driving. In 2013, 64 percent of all the young passengers (13-to 19-year-old) of teen (15- to 19-year-old) drivers who died in motor vehicle crashes weren’t restrained. When the teen driver was also unrestrained, the number of all passengers unrestrained increased to almost 90 percent.
  3. Put It Down. One Text or Call Could Wreck It All. Remind your teen about the dangers of texting or dialing while driving, and that the phone is off-limits when they are on the road. It’s equally important to model safe driving habits for your teen—you shouldn’t text and drive either. In 2013, among drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 6 percent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the highest percentage of drivers distracted by phone use. In 2013, 156 people were killed in crashes that involved a distracted teen driver. TIP: Put your cell phone in the trunk of your car while driving to avoid the temptation to use it.
  4. Stop Speeding Before It Stops You. Drive the speed limit and require your teen age kids to do the same. Explain that every time your speed doubles, your stopping distance quadruples. In 2013, almost one-third (29 percent) of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were speeding.
  5. No More Than One Passenger. With each passenger in the vehicle, your teen’s risk of a fatal crash goes up. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers. Check your State’s GDL (Graduated Driving Licensing) law before your teen takes to the road; it may prohibit any passengers. From October 18-24, join parents across the country in the “5 to Drive” campaign. For more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week and the “5 to Drive” campaign, please visit www.safercar.gov/parents.