Category Archives: Employment Screening

Can You Fire Someone for Attending a Rally of Racists?

Source: Jon Steingart, Daily Labor Report, August 14, 2017

A campaign to publicly identify participants in white supremacist rallies has been met with calls for employers to fire the protesters. That’s the dilemma Top Dogs in Berkeley, Calif., faced after Twitter user @YesYoureRacist shared a photo it said showed one of the hot dog restaurant’s employees at a demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. Participants carried torches and reportedly chanted “white lives matter” and “Jews will not replace us.” The next day, participants showed up carrying Nazi swastikas, Confederate battle flags, and insignia of white supremacist groups…..

Given a test to apply for a job? Watch out if you are not a white man

Source: Will Evans, Reveal, May 23, 2017

There’s a hidden form of discrimination blocking job seekers across the country.

It’s not a cabal of racist, sexist hiring managers colluding to give white men an advantage – though it can have the same effect.

It’s the misuse of employment tests – which measure reading, math and other cognitive skills – that can unfairly disadvantage minorities and women without the employers or the job applicants even realizing it…..

Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index

Source: Quest Diagnostics, May 2017

From the press release:
Drug use in the American workforce, fueled by illicit drugs, reached the highest positivity rate in 12 years, according to an analysis of more than ten million workforce drug test results released today by Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX), the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services.

The annual Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ will be presented at the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) annual conference this week in Orlando, Florida. Overall positivity in urine drug testing among the combined U.S. workforce in 2016 was 4.2 percent, a five percent relative increase over last year’s rate of 4.0 percent, and the highest annual positivity rate since 2004 (4.5%).
Related:
Interactive map showing urine drug test positivity in the United States
Full year 2016 tables

When Building a Diverse Workforce, Hiring Is Just the Start

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, May 4, 2017

Diversity has a lot of benefits, but achieving it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Related:
Diversity at the top: The King County story
Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, May 16, 2017

Our most recent Governing column looked at growing efforts to increase diversity in the workforce. Local governments and states increasingly work to make sure that their employees mirror the population and many have been successful. But there are far fewer governments that have achieved balanced representation in the top layers of management and salary.

King County has been setting aggressive goals for that top layer. It already has a workforce that generally mirrors the community, says Matias Valenzuela, director of the office of equity and social justice. Now, its aim is to also achieve diversity in its management leadership and staff.

Should Marijuana Be Removed from Pre-Employment Drug Screens?

Source: Roy Maurer, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), April 6, 2017

Employers are facing a conundrum. Should they stop testing applicants for marijuana use now that more states have legalized it for medicinal or recreational purposes and popular acceptance of the substance has spread?

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Eight of those states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington) and the District of Columbia have also legalized marijuana for recreational use.

But the drug remains illegal under federal law, and employers have the right to test for it, even in states where the substance is legal. Not only does federal law conflict with some states’ laws, but state laws also vary, sometimes significantly, challenging multistate employers….

Drug Testing Unemployment Insurance Applicants: An Unconstitutional Solution in Search of a Problem

Source: Rontel Batie, George Wentworth, National Employment Law Project (NELP), Policy Brief, February 2017

From the summary:
Historically, states have never drug tested applicants for unemployment insurance (UI), primarily because the Social Security Act prohibits states from adding qualifying requirements that do not relate to the “fact or cause” of a worker’s unemployment. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, however, some states, in a misguided effort to try to contain the high costs of their UI programs due to high unemployment rates, began clamoring to drug test UI applicants. Their hypothesis (without any facts or data to back it up) was that claims would somehow substantially decrease, either as workers tested positive for drugs or declined to apply because of their drug use.

Mindful of the goal of drug-free workplaces but also of the lack of any data that drug use was an issue among the unemployed, in 2012, Congress reached a narrow compromise on drug testing UI claimants, one that took into account the serious constitutional issues with suspicionless drug testing. Congress agreed to allow, not require, states to test UI claimants in two specific, narrow circumstances: (1) workers who had been discharged from their last job because of unlawful drug use, and (2) workers looking for jobs in occupations where applicants and employees are subject to regular drug testing. Consistent with the new federal law, the U.S. Department of Labor issued regulations that closely tracked the legislation, defining occupations subject to regular testing to mean occupations where testing is legally required (either now or in the future), and not merely permitted.

Congressional Republicans, unhappy with the compromise they agreed to in 2012, have criticized the Labor Department regulations since they were proposed, claiming they were too narrowly drawn even though they closely tracked the legislation. The House of Representatives is now planning to invoke the Congressional Review Act to invalidate these regulations; and presumably, proponents of drug testing are counting on passage of a bill introduced in the 114th Congress by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) that would effectively allow states to drug test all jobless workers filing for unemployment insurance. This bill, which we expect will be reintroduced shortly, would allow states to define occupations that “regularly” drug test to include all occupations where testing (including pre-employment testing) is permitted. If passed, this bill would open the floodgates for states to arbitrarily and unconstitutionally drug test its citizens solely because they are applying for UI benefits.

No one should be so confident that this bill could pass the Senate. Proponents have been trying to build support for drug testing UI claimants for years; but for the very narrow compromise reached in 2012, there has been no wider bipartisan support for the policy. Indeed, that is because such drug testing is simply another humiliation piled onto unemployed workers—a hurdle designed to be so stigmatizing that it discourages people from even applying for a benefit that they have earned in the first place….

Hiring Job Seekers with Criminal Histories

Source: Mark Feffer, HR Magazine, Vol. 61 no. 8, October 2016

Weigh the risks and rewards of employing ex-offenders. ….

Given a workforce facing unprecedented skills gaps and a country where tens of thousands of state and federal inmates are being released back into their communities every month, Miller’s story is worth bearing in mind. Many people with criminal histories are eager to work but have a hard time finding an employer willing to give them a chance.

Companies are understandably concerned about the safety of their workers and customers as well as their own assets and public image. But today, many HR professionals are finding that the best approach to hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds is not so different from the one they use for everyone else: to evaluate each candidate on his or her merits.

That doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind or forgoing background checks; rather, it’s about giving candidates with criminal backgrounds a chance to be included in the selection process, carefully assessing the nature of their crimes and the time since conviction, and balancing overall risks against potential rewards. ….