Billion-dollar payouts. Thousands of accused child molesters. One questionable marijuana ingredient. These attention-grabbing figures only give us half the story. We’re going beyond the numbers in this week’s EBI Screening News Weekly Wrap presented by Jennifer Gladstone. The real implications for the background screening industry lie deeper in the details of these stories. Ready to dive in?
Catholic Clergy Abuse List
“Innocent until proven guilty.” The presumption of innocence is woven into the meaning of the 6th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, a series of publicly available lists generated by 170 Catholic dioceses naming thousands of credibly accused child molesters and pornographers is making it difficult for employers to decide how – or if – to use the lists. Why? Because most people named on the list were never charged or convicted of a crime.
To be more transparent following years of sexual abuse allegations, 170 Catholic dioceses have released lists of priests, clergy members, and other employees accused of abuses ranging from rape to child pornography. Roughly 2,000 of the more than 5,000 accused are still living.
At least 20 states are using these lists to screen former clergy members before granting them licenses to teach, work in foster care, or provide therapy. The decision to use these lists follows a 2019 Associated Press investigation that found nearly 200 accused clergy members were holding teaching, mental health, or social work licenses.
Many states are also using the lists to double check current employees. Since a comprehensive database of accused priests doesn’t exist, each employer must determine whether they will focus on a specific list or try to review them all.
Concerning Church Records
In addition to eliciting a strong 6th amendment debate, there are concerns about how employers are choosing to use this information. If a Consumer Reporting Agency like EBI was performing the search for an employer, most of the information found in these lists would not be allowed to be reported under the Fair Credit Reporting Act for a couple of reasons:
- There is no way to be sure the church records are of the “utmost accuracy”
- Information older than seven years that did not result in a conviction may be disallowed
- There may not be a fair process to dispute the information
"Consumer Reporting Agencies who provide employers with information for employment purposes must comply with the requirement of the FCRA, including using reasonable procedures for maximum possible accuracy," says Curt Schwall, Vice President of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at EBI.
While an employer directly using one of these lists would not be subject to the FCRA, denying employment based solely on this list could be interpreted as punishing someone for being accused of a crime.
Many state attorneys general report they are already working on a way to eliminate this gray area.
Pilots, truck drivers, train engineers and other safety sensitive Department of Transportation workers are free to use CBD products – but they should do so with caution.
The DOT recently released a notice letting safety sensitive employees in all areas know they will not be tested for CBD because current law only allows them to look for marijuana use. But the DOT warns these products are often mislabeled because the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate CBD items. CBD-infused products are supposed to contain only the anti-anxiety chemical from the marijuana plant – not the intoxicating compound, THC.
Proceed With Caution
If a safety sensitive employee takes one of these products and tests positive for THC, the DOT will consider it a failed drug test. You will not be able to claim “medical use” as an explanation.
As SNN previously reported, a similar case has happened before. A truck driver failed a drug test and lost his job after eating a CBD gummy. He has filed a class action lawsuit against the company who sold the gummy. His lawyer is advocating for federal labeling on CBD products (like all food products have) to inform and protect consumers.
With all the risks involved, the DOT recommends extreme caution when deciding whether to use CBD products.
EBI understands the unique needs of keeping your driving fleet safe and DOT compliant. We also understand how confusing it can be when new marijuana- and CBD-related policies are announced. EBI is committed to keeping you informed about changes to compliance guidelines, policies, and laws. This is one of the reasons why we are the most-awarded background screener in the history of HRO Today’s Baker’s Dozen list. If you have a question for us – even if you’re not yet a client – please contact us.
ICYMI: How well is your background screener putting your dollars to work? Check out our two-part series, “10 Quality Questions to Ask Your Screening Provider”:
Billion Dollar Payout
The largest maker of generic opioids has tentatively agreed to pay $1.6 billion to state and local governments struggling to manage the public health crisis caused by these drugs. Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals is facing thousands of lawsuits and will be the first opioid manufacturer to reach such an agreement.
So far, 47 states have agreed to the proposed settlement, which will be paid into a trust over eight years. In order to make the payments, the drug company is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, just as OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma did back in September. These moves will pardon all opioid-related claims against Mallinckrodt.
See You in Court
However, not all the states and cities who’ve filed suit against the pharma giant are agreeing with this proposed settlement. New York, West Virginia, and Cleveland still want to have their day in court. New York’s case is scheduled to begin on March 20th. Two Ohio counties reached a $260 million settlement with several drug manufactures who they accused of deceptive marketing tactics that helped escalate the opioid crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that from 1999 to 2017, almost 218,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids. The CDC also says opioid-related deaths were five times higher in 2017 than they were in 1999. If opioid drug abuse continues in the United States, EBI estimates significant growth in the drug screening industry. Early drug screening for more than just marijuana should be a part of your comprehensive background check policy.