Exclusive Interview With NAPBS Board Chairperson Christine Cunneen

Jennifer Gladstone

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ChristineCunneen-1Several tired EBI’ers are back in the office today after studying up at the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) Mid-Year Legislative and Regulatory Conference. While conferences can be fun and great for networking, it can sometimes be hard to quantify how they affect you… our customers. This time, however, it is very clear.

A record number of members came to discuss pressing topics that will directly affect any company utilizing background checks. Things like EEOC and FCRA lawsuits top the list, as well as lawmakers pushing an antiquated screening method. I got the chance to sit down with NAPBS Chair Christine Cunneen to talk about some of the issues.

On several different occasions Ms. Cunneen talked about how employers are between a rock and a hard place. The first time she mentioned it, it was in regards to new legislation coming from Washington that limits mandatory background screening to a search of the FBI Fingerprint Database.

“It’s well intended legislation, it just has unintended consequences,” says Cunneen.  “Legislators want to protect vulnerable populations, want to protect our elderly, want to protect our children. They just don’t know there is any other way to do a check other than using fingerprints, so oftentimes it is just a matter of educating them.”

There are so many examples of deserving people missing out on jobs because the FBI database is incomplete or returns incorrect information.  There’s the elderly grandmother who was arrested but never charged on a minor offense in her 20s who is banned from volunteering in schools because the FBI has her fingerprints. There are also hundreds of applicants who were barred from working for the Census Bureau for similar reasons. In both cases, a background check with a responsible CRA would have weeded out old or irrelevant results while also giving people the chance to fix mistakes in their records. CRAs also report final dispositions when available, which are often missing from the FBI files. This is one of the things NAPBS is working to change.

Also, while on the hill, NAPBS members lobbied lawmakers on behalf of HR 548, a bill that would protect industries like healthcare and education from facing EEOC accusations of discrimination in their hiring when they are just following their state laws that require background screening for all employees. “It just allows employers to follow their state laws and not run afoul of the EEOC guidance.”

Another hot topic during the conference was protecting our clients from class action lawsuits. According to Cunneen, companies are finally getting the message that they can’t take FCRA requirements lightly. “Over the last two years, with the class action lawsuits becoming so popular, we all think it’s bad, but it has caused employers to listen more. They are becoming more open to hearing from the background screening providers and understand that we are not just a commodity. We are not just selling a background screen, we are selling a service and we know this industry inside and out. We are there to assist them to follow the right procedures and help them do things right.”

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing more from the conference, including an interview with the attorney who defeated the EEOC in the much talked about Freeman case.

Stay tuned, friends!

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Jennifer Gladstone

Posted By: Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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