Category Archives: Employment Screening

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….

Hair-Follicle Drug Testing: Lessons for Employers

Source: Hassan A. Kanu, Daily Labor Report, October 19, 2016

….The data on drug testing by employers are largely imprecise, but a 2016 survey of 3,459 HR professionals done by HireRight showed that 92 percent of employers that perform drug screens use urinalysis, while 8 percent use hair tests. While there are flaws in both the urinalysis test and the hair-follicle test, it’s the hair-follicle test that is the most unreliable and could cause headaches for employers….. Scientific studies have also found another issue with hair-follicle testing: a likely racial bias. ….

A Healthcare Employer Guide to Hiring People with Arrest and Conviction Records: Seizing the Opportunity to Tap a Large, Diverse Workforce

Source: Sodiqa Williams, Safer Foundation and National Employment Law Project (NELP), September 2016

….As the healthcare industry continues to grow, employers have an opportunity to launch innovative workforce development strategies to assure a diversified pipeline of qualified healthcare workers. Businesses of all sizes and types come and go in the communities they serve. However, healthcare organizations help keep many communities afloat and steady, even in hard financial and uncertain times. Adopting a hiring policy for people with records can help you achieve your business objectives while advancing your mission to serve the public. Consult this toolkit for guidance on implementing a hiring program for people with records. Several healthcare providers and trainers featured in the toolkit are at the forefront of a movement to invest in workforces in underserved communities. We can all learn from their experiences in developing policies and practices that work. With the guidance provided in the toolkit, you can be proactive in recruiting people with records from your community…..
Related:
Ensuring People With Convictions Have a Fair Chance to Work
Source: National Employment Law Project (NELP)

An estimated 70 million people in the United States—nearly one in three adults—have a prior arrest or conviction record. A racially biased criminal justice system and mass incarceration have severely impacted communities of color. A conviction in one’s past shouldn’t be a life sentence to joblessness. NELP is working to expand fair-chance hiring laws to every corner of the nation, because everyone deserves an opportunity to work for a better life.