Screening News Weekly Wrap: February 28th, 2020

Screening News Weekly Wrap: February 28th, 2020

By Tricia O'Connor

By now, pre-employment background checks are so ubiquitous most people may assume all enterprise organizations perform them. As the EBI Screening News Weekly Wrap presented by Jennifer Gladstone shows us, that’s faulty logic. Two big name businesses are making headlines for ineffective screening, while The Golden State tries something trendy to increase employment among ex-cons. How will this impact hiring?

Pill Prescribing Problem

Bigger isn’t always better. Especially when you’re so big, you hire and promote a fake pharmacist without ever realizing she wasn’t licensed to begin with!

That’s the situation Walgreens finds itself in with former pharmacist Kim Thien Le. Le worked for the drugstore giant for more than a decade and signed off on more than 745,000 prescriptions during that time. Turns out though, Le was NOT licensed by the California State Board of Pharmacy.

Walgreens now must pay $7.5 million to settle a complaint brought by the Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley alleging Walgreens failed to vet Le when they hired her or when they promoted her to oversee several pharmacies.

“This case serves as a cautionary tale for every health care provider that hires people into positions requiring a professional license. The burden is on the company to make sure its employees are properly licensed and to complete a thorough background check. My office will be vigilant in protecting consumers and enforcing licensing laws,” O’Malley stated in a news release.

Correct the Pain Point

This case also highlights the ongoing opioid crisis in America. Walgreens and other pharmacy chains are accused in federal court of recklessly distributing billions of pills that contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Le filled more than 100,000 prescriptions for controlled substances while employed by Walgreens.

Walgreens has since taken steps to re-screen all its pharmacy employees across the country through a new verification program. Ongoing employee screening with EBI – one of our Top 5 Background Screening Trends of 2020 – upholds your company’s high standards post-hire by providing routine background checks throughout an employee’s tenure. Ongoing monitoring alerts you to any changes in your employee’s background, like new criminal records or driving violations. In the Walgreens case, ongoing screening could tell them when a pharmacist’s license has expired (California law requires a pharmacist license be renewed regularly within three years).

The company has also set up an annual auditing program. As Greg Wieclaw, Internal Lead Auditor at EBI explains here, an annual audit is an extremely effective tool at maintaining and monitoring quality standards and ensures your company remains in compliance.

This case should serve as a reminder to all employers that skimping on verifications can be a dangerous and expensive risk to take.

ICYMI: Do you know how well your background screener is putting your dollars to work? Check out our two-part series, “10 Quality Questions to Ask Your Screening Provider” featuring Bob Capwell, Chief Knowledge Officer at EBI.

Crackdown on Cannabis Convictions

What do you get when you combine legislation to legalize marijuana, a special computer program, and a prosecutor in a tough race to keep her job? In California, it’s a recipe to weed out more than 66,000 marijuana related convictions.

A new motion filed by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey – and signed by a judge shortly after – dismisses cases dating back to 1961, including 4,000 misdemeanor cases and 62,000 felonies. Lacey – who is facing stiff competition from two challengers running on criminal justice reform platforms – says the movement reverses “decades of drug enforcement that disproportionately targeted people of color.”

Growing Concerns

In 2016, California Proposition 64 legalized the possession and use of recreational marijuana. A non-profit technology company, Code for America, then developed a computer algorithm to analyze court data to see how many people were eligible to have their pot crimes cleared. The Clear My Record technology was offered to counties across the state. Before this effort, it was up to individuals to petition the court to have their convictions expunged.

New York and Illinois have also passed laws to automatically expunge marijuana convictions. SNN has reported New Jersey and Connecticut have similar bills in the works. Twelve other states have laws that allow people to ask the court to erase low-level weed convictions.

The idea behind a lot of these expungement efforts is to improve second chance hiring for the roughly 70-100 million men and women in the U.S. who have a criminal record. 

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First Come, First Served

Imagine you’re applying for a job. You anticipate filling out an application, sitting for an interview, and undergoing a background check. Pretty standard hiring procedure, right?

Imagine your surprise then when you show up and you’re hit with just three questions:

  • Are you authorized to work in the U.S.?
  • Can you stand for 8 hours?
  • Can you lift more than 50 pounds?

If you answer ‘yes,’ in most cases, The Body Shop will hire you on the spot. Starting this summer the beauty retailer is implementing what it calls an “open hiring model” at all U.S. stores. No more pre-employment background checks. No more drug testing.

Candidate Friendly Recruiting

The Body Shop, founded on being animal and environmentally friendly, now aims to be candidate friendly. During the pilot program in its warehouse and distribution centers, the company reported a 60% drop in monthly turnover. It’s estimated there will be about 800 jobs available this summer, with more coming over the holidays.

Costly Mistake

While the company’s goal of helping people overcome past mistakes is laudable, industry experts warn the company could face negligent hiring accusations if an un-vetted hire causes harm to another employee or a customer.

“The failure of a company to exercise a reasonable standard of due diligence by not conducting a basic background check creates significant risk exposures when it comes to workplace safety, asset protection, brand reputation, and workplace culture. A company who tries to defend a lack of due diligence in court might find it indefensible,” cautions Curt Schwall, Vice President of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at EBI.

Here’s a frightening example we covered in SNN that drives Curt’s point home. A truck driver with a lengthy bad driving record who was not screened caused a $54 million negligent hiring lawsuit.

EBI understands the hiring constraints employers in the retail and hospitality industries face. Approximately 10% of all job candidates have some type of criminal past. The percentage is even higher for part-time, seasonal, and minimum wage staff members. However, employers of all sizes should know comprehensive background checks are the single-most effective tool at keeping your workplace safe.

There is a way to be candidate friendly and maintain a safe workplace. EBI can help you create a customized screening solution that meets both those needs.

Drug Testing Screening News Network

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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