Screening News Update: Screening Problems Out West, Opioid Settlement, and Another Form I-9 Extension

Screening News Update: Screening Problems Out West, Opioid Settlement, and Another Form I-9 Extension

By Jennifer Gladstone

Wild West of Background Screening

Hopefully you saw our report a few weeks ago about California courts removing birthdates and driver’s license numbers from public-facing records – a move that will severely hamper efforts to provide employers with accurate pre-employment background checks. Today, we have new information about that situation, as well as news about problems in Arizona that will also create screening roadblocks.

First, in California, the state’s Supreme Court refused requests from the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) and dozens of other organizations to review the ruling that led to the redaction of dates of birth. Without birthdays, it is almost impossible for a background screener to confirm that a criminal record belongs to a job applicant.

The refusal to revisit the issue means criminal records checks in the state will not only become more difficult, but in some cases, they will be impossible to complete.

In Arizona, the problems stem from inaccuracies in the state’s record-keeping. Auditors took a look at the database used for conducting background checks in the state and found it woefully incomplete. Up to 40% of the felony records reviewed are missing dispositions, and as many as 17% of all felony offense records are not in the database at all. On top of that, the department has nearly 60,000 backlogged records that need to be researched and uploaded. Some of those records are more than 30 years old.

In addition to background checks, this database, which is maintained by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, is used to help approve professional licensing, as well as to help criminal justice officials make plea bargains or sentencing recommendations.

Members of the department say they plan to implement several of the auditors’ recommendations.

Purdue Pharma Settlement

Purdue Pharma has become almost synonymous with the opioid crisis that has torn through our country. Now, the company that created OxyContin has been dissolved as part of a settlement to put thousands of lawsuits to rest.

This public health crisis led to the deaths of more than half-a-million people and has left countless others in the grip of the highly addictive drugs. States and local governments, as well as individuals, have sued Purdue and its owners, the Sackler family.

In 2020, the company pleaded guilty to downplaying the danger of the drug and for paying illegal kickbacks to doctors for prescribing it, even when they suspected it was being done illegally. The company paid a large settlement, the family paid up, as well.

Last week the company was dissolved as part of a bankruptcy settlement. The Sacklers will no longer be allowed to be in the opioid business, and they must give $4.5 billion of their own fortune to help communities recover from the crisis. They will, however, be shielded from any future lawsuits if this settlement stands.

That is a big “if.” Attorneys general from several states are already planning to appeal the ruling

Form I-9 Extension Extended for Some

Every couple of months since COVID-19 hit, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced that the relaxed rules for completing the mandatory Form I-9 would be extended. Sometimes it was for an additional month, then two at a time, now, officials have decided to jump right to the new year.

New guidance applies only to those employees who were hired on or after April 1st of this year and who are working in a remote setting due to COVID-19 precautions. In this situation, employers are allowed to check documents virtually until the employee is no longer working remotely or when the provision ends on December 31st, 2021.

If you are hiring in person for on-site work, you must inspect all documents in person. There are no exceptions.

For more on the rule and Form I-9 Best Practices, check out our blog.

About the Author

Jennifer Gladstone

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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