October 5, 2009
Last week we reported about Florida’s Flawed Background Screening System and now Florida lawmakers are talking about making changes to the state system.
Laxness, Loopholes In Background Checks Of Child And Elder Care Workers
Source: South Florida Sun Sentinel
Florida legislators pledged to overhaul state law to require that caregivers for children and the elderly undergo background checks before they begin work and to close loopholes that have let thousands of felons get jobs in day care and nursing homes.
The proposed reforms come after a Sun Sentinel investigative series last week identified disturbing flaws in the background screening system that allow people to work with Florida’s most vulnerable residents before the caregivers have been vetted.
Even people with criminal pasts can qualify for jobs as caregivers by obtaining an exemption. Thousands have sought and won official permission to work despite having records for crimes including rape, child abuse and murder, the newspaper found.
“What you have discovered is something the Legislature needs to get more serious about and get on top of immediately,” state Rep. Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs, told the Sun Sentinel. A state prosecutor, Porth is drafting legislation to require pre-employment checks and put restrictions on who can get exemptions.
George Sheldon, secretary of Florida’s Department of Children & Families, called reforming the system “a legislative priority for a number of agencies.”
“It just makes sense that the public is assured that those people who are dealing with the most vulnerable have been closely screened,” Sheldon said.
As a result of the Sun Sentinel investigation, Sheldon wrote a four-page letter Thursday to state legislators outlining his plan for a “faster, more efficient system to protect our vulnerable citizens.”
Read more here.
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June 25, 2009
An E-Alert from Ogletree Deakins, one of America’s three largest labor and employment law firms:
- Starting July 1, 2009, South Carolina employers with 100 or more employees must perform a special verification for newly-hired employees. These employers will be required either to use E-Verify or review a qualifying driver’s license. State contractors with 500 or more employees became subject to the same requirements on January 1, 2009 (see Ogletree Deakins’ June 4, 2008 E-Alert for more information on the law).
- The Mississippi Employment Protection Act (S.B. 2988) phases in a requirement on employers to participate in E-Verify. On July 1, 2008, all Mississippi agencies and political subdivisions, all public contractors, and private employers with 250 or more employees became subject to the E-Verify requirement. On July 1, 2009, private employers with 100 or more employees will also become subject to the requirement (see Ogletree Deakins’ April 4, 2008 E-Alert for a complete review of the Mississippi law).
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May 4, 2009
In case you missed any of our employee screening articles for April, here’s a quick recap of our most popular:
- E-Verify Supported By Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
- 5 Improvements Coming To E-Verify
- Job Applicants Are More Likely To Lie As The Recession Grows
- E-Verify for Federal Contractors Delayed Again
- A Growing Trend – Data Security and Protection
- When Not To Do A Background Check
- Enforcement Of The New “Red Flags Rule” Delayed Again
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Hiring and Retaining The Best Employees Possible
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April 1, 2009
The Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) made five recommendations to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to improve E-Verify.
USCIS Response To The Recommendations
Recommendation 1: Simplify the language used in all E-Verify instructions and supporting documentation.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) concurs with this recommendation and is working to simplify the E-Verify programmatic language. In Spring 2008, the USCIS Verification Division began a “Plain Language Initiative” to identify E-Verify terminology that is unnecessarily complex or difficult to understand. The Division is working to improve all E-Verify materials including the employer Memoranda of Understanding, user manuals, and tutorial by substituting plain language for all confusing or difficult legal terminology, to the extent that can be done while retaining legal clarity, accuracy, and completeness. In September and November 2008, E-Verify staff conducted a series of focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders, such as the Office of Special Counsel, various DHS offices, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and participating employers like Tyson Foods, during which actual E-Verify users and employee advocacy groups evaluated proposed new vocabulary. For example, we are reviewing new terms to replace those such as: “Designated Agent,” “tentative non-confirmation” and “final non-confirmation.” The USCIS Verification Division is planning the schedule for implementation of the new terms beginning in FY10. The USCIS Verification Division is currently working to prioritize these enhancements into the program’s release schedule. Additionally, in September 2008, the E-Verify Program revised the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Tentative Non-Confirmation Notices and Referral Letters, and the corresponding Social Security Administration notices were revised in December 2008. The revised versions include simplified instructions for employees and employers on how to complete the TNC Notice and how to contest a referral. The notice revision process used plain language principles.
Recommendation 2: Make all registration and operational documents publicly available on-line for review by prospective E-Verify end-users and employees.
USCIS concurs with this recommendation and already has posted the following key operational documents in FY08:
The Memorandum of Understanding details the responsibilities between the SSA, DHS, and employer. The E-Verify User Manual details the specific functions and features of the system, and explains their proper use. Additional materials related to E-Verify (e.g., the M-274 Handbook for Employers for the Form I-9) are currently available at www.uscis.gov and the E-Verify website. The E-Verify tutorial is an online interactive program that requires the user to actively engage in and become proficient with the program. The Verification Division will explore possibilities for providing tutorial-like documentation for public review online. Finally, the division will add other E-Verify documents, such as registration documents, to the website for more easy review by members of the public.
Recommendation 3: Ensure its education and outreach efforts reach small business communities.
USCIS supports this recommendation. In 2008, the USCIS Verification Division participated in 18 nationwide outreach and educational events focused on reaching small business communities such as local small business associations and minority-owned business conferences. Moreover, E-Verify has reached numerous small businesses as a result of presentations and other forms of outreach provided at the request of many local Chambers of Commerce in Arizona and other states. This outreach has included weekly Webinars, which are informational seminars about E-Verify and the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and additional E-Verify-related events. In 2009 and beyond, the USCIS Verification Division will initiate activities to target education and outreach to small businesses and to partner with government agencies and other organizations such as Business.gov and the Small Business Administration (SBA). The USCIS Verification Division plans to place E-Verify links and information on the Business.gov website. We also plan to work with the SBA’s Office of Small Business Development Centers, which provides management assistance, information, and guidance to current and prospective small business owners via branch locations (approximately 1,100 nationwide). Our goal is to establish an agreement that will allow us to provide literature and education on E-Verify to small business owners and entrepreneurs who rely upon these offices for information and assistance in their communities. Also, the USCIS Verification Division has worked with SBA to identify webpages where it would be appropriate to integrate E-Verify information into the SBA internet site, though the timeline is dependent upon SBA’s current webpage redesign efforts. We also plan to work with SBA to determine how E-Verify information can be integrated into their program activities.
Recommendation 4: Develop and add a tickler/calendar system in E-Verify capable of issuing timely system prompts that advise employers of their next appropriate course of action for each specific and unresolved TNC.
USCIS supports this recommendation to add a system that alerts E-Verify users via email and outside of the E-Verify system of cases that require action. Currently, users must log on to the system to see whether further action is required on a case. We are exploring the development of a capability for employers to receive email notifications, including researching the security feasibility of auto-authenticating users by clicking on an email link to bring them directly to their work page. The notification would be a basic note indicating that work has arrived in the user’s queue and that the user needs to take action. In the interim, and to help employers better manage cases, the USCIS Verification Division is developing a “Case Status Alert” for E-Verify. When the user logs onto E-Verify, an alert will appear at the center of the page should any case remain open. The alert will indicate:
- The number of cases that require closure.
- The number of tentative non-confirmations that require SSA or DHS referrals.
- The number of cases that possess the “DHS Verification in process,” or “SSA Case in Continuance” statuses. Though the planned “Case Status Alert” is not exactly a tickler system, it operates similarly and constitutes a significant improvement in user-driven case management.
Notwithstanding these future improvements, the current E-Verify system currently has a means of case management. When a user logs onto E-Verify, he or she immediately encounters, at the top of the homepage, a link to the Case Administration site. By selecting “View Cases” (listed under Case Administration on the homepage), the user is taken directly to the page on which pending case statuses may be checked. The user may then view case statuses according to: 1) Cases Requiring Action, 2) Cases in Process, 3) Resolved Cases, or 4) all cases at once. Additionally, users can also search for a specific case using identifiers such as social security number, alien number, or employer case ID number.
Recommendation 5: Announce an intention to replace the current Form I-9 process for employers that voluntarily use E-Verify.
Eliminating the Form I-9 for employers who use E-Verify would require a statutory change. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (Pub. L. No. 99-603, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324a-d), IRCA, mandates the current employment verification process and requires all newly-hired employees to complete a Form I-9. The statutory provisions in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) governing E-Verify specifically state that employees shall record information “on the I-9 or similar form,” and comply with Form I-9 requirements regarding retention of the form and review of documents, except as specifically modified by IIRIRA.1 However, the Verification Division is exploring the development of its own electronic I-9 form to help streamline the Form I-9 and E-Verify processes. The Government Paperwork Elimination Act (Pub. L. No. 105-277, 44 U.S.C. § 3501) mandates that federal agencies use electronic forms, when practicable. In fact, ICE permits and encourages the use of an electronic I-9. When implemented (currently scheduled for FY 10), the USCIS electronic I-9 will populate the E-Verify data fields and allow employers to save an electronic version of the I-9 on their desktops and information systems and/or print a paper version of the I-9.
Need Help With E-Verify?
As a designated E-Verify service provider, FYI Screening can help you join the growing ranks of those employers who use the E-Verify system to confirm the legal status of workers in the United States.
For more information please contact us at 1-800-809-2419 or click here.
April 1, 2009
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said today she supports the controversial employee verification program called E-Verify and wants to see it extended beyond the Sept. 30 expiration date.
In an interview today with Gannett Washington Bureau, Napolitano said the Obama administration hasn’t taken a position on whether or not to make E-Verify mandatory for all U.S. employers.
“It’s all about who gets to work and making sure they’re legally present in our country. And to do that nationally E-verify becomes a key component,’’ she said. “It certainly needs to available, effective and as inexpensive as possible and that employer needs to use it as a tool.
Read the story here.
- Use of E-Verify is mandatory in 12 states
- 6.6 Million E-Verify queries were run in 2008*
- Over 1000 companies sign up each week*
- More than 100,000 employers use E-Verify today*
- 96% of workers immediately are authorized to work through E-Verify*
- Employees have the right to contest results
- 13% of all new hires were E-Verified in 2008
*Reported by Department of Homeland Security
Advantages of using FYI Screening for E-Verify:
- As a designated E-Verify service provider, FYI Screening can help you join the growing ranks of those employers who use the E-Verify system to confirm the legal status of workers in the United States.
- Seamless integration into our online background screening system. When you order a background check on an applicant you can easily order an E-Verify check.
- Quick, accurate results
- Confirmation number provides streamlined record-keeping in one convenient online location. This is great for companies with multiple locations.
- Reduces liability by providing an electronic trail for auditing.
For more information about E-Verify, please contact us at 1-800-809-2419 or click here.
October 31, 2008
In case you missed any of our employee screening articles for October, here’s a quick recap:
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October 27, 2008
One of tragic ironies of the education industry is that it often fails to properly screen teachers. For example, a study conducted in 2007 found that most Illinois teachers who were hired prior to 2004 were exempt from FBI background checks. These educators have a dangerous level of exposure to children. Consider that many of them could easily hide a criminal past.
Newspapers are filled with hundreds of cases in which educators are hired, but are unsuitable to have exposure to children. For example, a high school teacher named Jaime Katheryn Steen was recently jailed for distributing pornographic pictures to her students. George Tolbert, convicted of sexually abusing 2 children, served 4 years in jail, only to earn his teaching credentials and teach for 10 years. Chassappasi Rain, convicted of shooting 2 people in 1978, earned his teaching certificate in 1990 and found a teaching job in the Chicago Public School System.
Comprehensive background checks should have been performed on each of these people prior to hiring them as educators. By failing to screen them properly and allowing them into the classroom, school administrators are gambling with the safety of the students in their care.
Pre-Employment Screening For Educators
As the number of criminal cases involving teachers continues to escalate, state governments are starting to require pre-employment background checks. The problem is that the scope of these background checks is usually inadequate. They’re often limited to running an applicant’s name through an FBI database and doing a child abuse registry search. Not only is this approach plagued with problems (i.e. misspelled names, out of date profiles, etc.), but they often fail to uncover past criminal convictions.
School administrators need to implement more thorough pre-employment screening protocols. Even if funding seems to be a obstacle, it’s important to realize that properly screening teachers and conducting wide-ranging criminal background checks is relatively inexpensive. In fact, it can usually be done for less than what that teacher will earn during their first day on the job.
Doing the bare minimum when screening educators is no longer a viable option. There is simply too much risk to the safety of the students. Allowing convicted felons to gain all-day access to children is a recipe for disaster. In fact, the education industry has been buffeted by high-profile incidents for years. It’s time for school administrators to take control by conducting extensive background checks on all personnel.
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