Wrongful Termination: Facebook Details

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Georgia school teacher was terminated just three weeks into the 2009 school year when one of her students told school officials that the teacher's Facebook page included photos of her consuming alcohol.

Ashley Payne sued the school last week for being forced to resign without due process. Administrators confronted her about the content of her Facebook page. "There's so much focus on this one little thing in my personal life, and nothing on the good things I had done there," said Payne. "I didn't do anything unethical or immoral. I didn't use foul language or act that way in the classroom."

Payne may have the ability to win the suit, but it is advisable that any professional in any field monitor their public profiles, your employers and clients certainly are.


Work Place Violence

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

After the fatal shooting in Orlando, FL and the mass murders at Fort Hood in Texas, the issue of workplace violence has America buzzing again.

The Fort Hood incident has received a lot of media coverage already and is one of those terrifying incidents that remind us all that people are unpredictable and that they can be violent. Due to the large-scale terror inflicted by the gunman at Fort Hood, much of the incident in Orlando was under covered by the media.

After one year at an engineering firm in Orlando, Jason Rodriguez was fired for failure to improve performance. Over the next two years, Rodriguez apparently never got over the termination and returned to the job killing one employee and injuring others.

While rare, these types of incidents remind people in our industry of exactly why background checks are down. Not all workplace violence result in death or serious injury, but we should all be aware of the escalation that can occur. Those instances of non-lethal violence such as stalking, threats, intimidation, harassment or property destruction often go unreported. Bullying can escalate and most businesses, at some point, experience some form of work place violence.

Background checks are important for finding out if a person has a past history of violence, but it is important to remember that if somebody has no past, there is really know way of knowing if they are capable of such violence.


7 Hot Topics When Selecting a Background Screening Firm

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If you are in business, you know that often, one of the best ways to protect your company is to protect it from criminals. Most companies perform pre-employment background checks, band almost all consider it at some point.

As a company makes their selection process the following seven hot issues are things to consider when making your service provider selection. The industry is moving away from the idea that background checks are the unequivocal way to weed out a bad choice, and understand that the entire investigation can actually play a role in defining your company values and what constitutes a qualified candidate.

1. Your service provider should be able to guide you in making decisions based on the quality of information provided. They can help you implement company wide hiring decisions, make them visible to all recruiters. Company-wide hiring standards protect you in the long wrong. Ask your provider or your prospective provider today what they can do to help.

2. Advances in technology allow your provider to give you faster initial screening results that reach a broader amount of sources for information. Automated database searches can give you quick delivery of results, but should also be backed up by in-depth searches to ensure no records were missed. Be wary of a service provider who sells you an instant background check with no other investigations, they are likely utilizing a database and are bound to miss records.

3. New studies indicate previous notions about the likelihood to commit crimes have changed. New laws may be introduced as a result of these studies. Your provider needs to be aware that employment laws are subject to change. You should feel confident your provider will provide you with the information necessary to keep you legal and for the fair treatment of all applicants.

4. As job competition heats up, more and more applicants will be using inflated information on the resumes - they will falsify work information, education history, references, anything they can to get an edge over their competition. Ask your provider what sort of measures they take to ensure your candidate really is the best person of the job, and not just a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

5. Regular follow up background checks are a good idea. Many companies use a background check as a pre-screening tool only, but if your now current employee commits a crime over that long three day weekend, there is a chance you may not know about it. Follow up screenings can be sensitive areas and it's a good idea to consult with your provider to set up company-wide standards and procedures.

6. Employment authorization. Be sure your employees are eligible to work in the United States. The subject has been under scrutiny for the last 3 years in Washington, DC, and many new laws have gone into effect that could seriously undermine your ability to perform well under a government audit.

7. Your provider should also be up to date on the growing unease of the use of credit checks as a pre-screening tool. Washington state, Connecticut and Hawaii have all passed laws regulating the use of this information. Ask your provider how that effects your pre-screening policy today.


Employee Records: Keep Them, and Keep Them Organized

Monday, November 16, 2009

Most companies keep some semblance of good, organized employee files. Going above and beyond when it comes to keeping the files up to date and archived is a not often used, but highly recommended practice.

In the event of employee grievances or in the terrifying case that your company becomes subject to a government audit, you'll be happy you took the time to implement a good policy when it comes to archiving these important documents.

Good practice is to create the file no later than the first day of hire. Any documents that are signed by the employee should be stored in that file. Two copies should be made, and provided to the employee. The file cabinet containing the documents should be locked at all times, and any I9 and employment verification documents are to be kept in a separate locked file.

Its a good idea to take a look at your state labor board's website for further descriptions on what type of information should be retained both during the employees tenure and after their termination.


Driving Safer for Teens

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Great news for parents of teenagers! A new application disables cell phones while driving.

Jonathan Young, president of Textecution, developed a user-friendly phone application that can disable the cell phone whenever a car is moving. It took two months to develop the software which links the device to the vehicles GPS functions. When the vehicles moves more than 10 mph, all texting is disabled. Once the vehicle stops, it is available again.

Parents are given the authority to enable and disable the software as they see fit, for example, if the teen is a passenger in the car, Mom and Dad would probably be willing to allow them to text while moving.

Textecution is an application for phones utilizing the Android Platform.

Textecution believes the application will be on the phones of most teenagers in three years.


Crimes Committed by Criminals

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Each Wednesday, Liberty brings you Crimes Committed by Criminals, a new feature intended to highlight the most important reason to screen for criminals.

Most persons arrested for criminal offenses have prior arrest records, and many have arrest records in more than one state.
(Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Daniel Vincent - 16 bank robberies - 5 years in Federal Prison

Released from federal custody in April 2008, Vincent faces new robbery charges after a car chase ended in a crash outside Lexington, KY.

Lexington's First Federal Bank was robbed at 11:27am on Friday, November 6. The man, dressed in black, implied he had a gun, collected money, and fled the scene in a black SUV exceeding 80mph before crashing. Vincent is being held on first degree robbery charges in Kentucky.

Vincent pled guilty to robbing 16 banks in a 20 month spree in November 2003. He took over $53,000 from the banks.


Rhode Island Churches Weigh In on the Immigration Debate

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In an interesting move, the Rhode Island Council of Churches has issued a document urging their followers to be compassionate toward immigrants - illegal or otherwise.

Reverend Donald Anderson stated that the document wasn't to be considered a policy paper, but more of an outline on the principles of immigration as described in the bible to help those with faith approach the issue.

The document outlines many cases of immigration in the bible, most notably the Jewish relocation from Egypt. It proceeds to argue "Since one motivation for immigration is the relative prosperity of the U.S., some may argue that the federal government should protect that prosperity from declines caused by excessive immigration. It is not clear if the U.S. economy is improved or worsened by immigration."

It lists some standard acceptable beliefs such as giving legal status to families attempting to reunite.

The immigration debate goes in cycles, but it seems we're in for a long slow burning as all sides continue to weigh in on the best approach to the issue. What is certain, E-Verify is currently here stay, and the R.I. Council of Churches had nothing bad to say about that particular standard.


Idaho Schools Plan Nicotine Testing

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cassia County School District is making plants to test their student athletes for nicotine use. 20% of Idaho teenagers use tobacco illegally.

The student athletes are already undergoing mandatory drug and alcohol testing.

Cassia County School District Superintendent Gaylen Smyer stated that when "the athletes make the team they will be randomly tested throughout the season. When the athletes are randomly tested 50% of the tests will check for the presence of nicotine."

The school district will use the data received from the random tests to further document cigarette use among teenagers. Offending teens shouldn't receive as severe punishment for positive tests since nicotine is not an illegal drug like marijuana or cocaine. However, it is illegal of children under the age of 18 to posses nicotine, so it should be taken seriously and the matter handled proactively with counseling and support.


Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

Monday, November 2, 2009

In April 2008, Michigan deemed medical marijuana a legal right, and since then about 5,100 people have registered as users with just over 1,000 denied applications. The prescriptions are for pain relief among people who are chronically and terminally ill. Michigan isn't alone, 13 states across the county have legalized marijuana for medicinal use.

What happens when a medical marijuana user tests positive for a drug test? In an article for freep.com, Kathleen Gray investigates.

In states where employees have tested positive for drug use but were medicinal users, the law has consistently sided with the employer.

Michigan's laws aren't clear cut. One section states that the user cannot be "subject arrest...or denied any right or privilege including...disciplinary action by a business," yet another portion states "nothing in the act shall be construed to require an employer to accommodate the ingestion of marijuana in any workplace or any employee working while under the influence of marijuana."

Executive director of the Institute for a Drug Free Workplace, Mark de Bernardo states, "Marijuana is a dangerous drug that detrimentally affects the workplace. It has impacts on health care costs, productivity, accidents, and employee turnover."

It seems that users are not protected by this law from losing their job. Should a positive test come back, as it would for any prescription drug, an MRO should deem that a prescription in fact justifies the use, it seems it is up to the employer whether or not they would like to take the risk of having a pot smoker in their workplace.


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