Screening News Weekly Wrap: November 8th, 2019

Screening News Weekly Wrap: November 8th, 2019

By Tricia O'Connor

The decision to implement background screening and drug testing into hiring policies is big. There are many factors – both internally and externally – that influence human resources departments in this decision. This week’s EBI Screening News Weekly Wrap presented by Jennifer Gladstone spans the globe and shows us why seemingly divergent industries like higher education and horse racing are embracing pre-employment screening and drug testing to create safer work environments.

Please note there will be no Screening News Updates during the week of November 11th. We will be celebrating EBI’s 25th anniversary with exciting announcements and events all week long. Join in the fun by visiting any of our social media pages. 

Faculty Fight Background Checks

If teachers, administrators, and staff at childcare centers and k-12 schools are required to pass a pre-employment background check, it makes sense faculty members at colleges and universities are also screened. Turns out though, professors don’t always support that decision. Background check policies for faculty at the University of Illinois, Lehigh University, and Florida Gulf Coast University all sparked debate when first pitched.

But that was two years ago. A lot has changed in higher education and in the screening industry. So, it’s surprising the idea of implementing a faculty background check policy is still getting serious push back at one well-known institution.

Syracuse University will conduct a criminal background check on everyone applying for a faculty position at the start of the new year. The administration says the screening will look back seven years for felony convictions and will verify an applicant’s education and credentials. The pre-employment background check policy is like those already in effect at Pennsylvania State University, Northeastern University, and the University of Rochester.

However, members of a faculty tenure and ethics board say they are concerned about the policy change. They say university officials have not defined what crimes they are flagging, nor how they will weigh those crimes. Board members say they are specifically worried professors who have been arrested for civil disobedience or activism will be weeded out by the process. They also say the administration hasn’t provided them with enough information on the process, the cost, and the length of time the checks would take.

This new plan brings the faculty hiring process in-line with thousands of other Syracuse employees who have been required to submit to criminal background screening for years – even though most of them never engage with students. In fact, 66% of colleges and universities conduct background checks as part of the admissions process for students! Even independent schools are strongly encouraged to establish and consistently follow a process for conducting background and reference checks on employees, both in the pre-employment stage and continually throughout their employment.

Background screening best practices include conducting a comprehensive criminal background check on any person near students. Moreover, background checks for educators also reduce the cost of faculty training and turnover and reduce the threat of negligent hiring lawsuits. EBI is known for its excellent client care and candidate support. We can make faculty background checks a smooth step in your hiring process. Reach out, we’d love to help.

Educators and administrators – EBI wants your questions about background checks! It’s our mission to help you create the safest campus possible for your students, staff, and visitors. Send your questions to “Ask an Expert.” We might feature it in a segment!

The Bank Job

Second chance hiring is a hot topic in HR. More businesses are considering hiring people who have a criminal record. That’s good news for the roughly 70-100 million men and women in the U.S. who have a conviction. Most of the industries who open their doors to ex-cons are blue collar, like transportation, auto, and service. There’s not a lot of wiggle room in white collar areas like finance, law, tech, software, etc.

However, one of the largest financial institutions in the world is banking on second chance hiring to expand economic opportunities for more people and to bolster its own hiring strategy.

JPMorgan Chase hired more than 20-thousand people in the United States in 2018. Roughly 10% of those new hires had some kind of criminal history. That’s about 2,100 people. Applicants with criminal records are considered for entry-level jobs like account servicing and transaction processing. The bank will consider people with DUI convictions, disorderly conduct, or other low-level crimes. Convictions for money crimes like fraud or evasion will not be accepted.

This hiring push is part of JPMorgan Chase’s overall plan to design and advocate for changes in the rules that ban former felons from working in the financial sector. It began with implementing Ban the Box and removing a question about criminal history from job applications. The bank is also establishing a think tank and putting millions of dollars toward job-training for people who have served time.

“Business has a responsibility to partner with policy, business, and community leaders to create an economy that works for more people. When someone cannot get their foot in the door to compete for a job, it is bad for business and bad for communities that need access to economic opportunity. Giving more people a second chance allows businesses to step-up and do their part to reduce recidivism, hire talented workers, and strengthen the economy.”
– Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO

The next big move we can expect to see from JPMorgan Chase is a pilot program in Chicago to help create an employment pipeline for job candidates.

A Hair-Raising Horse Racing Concern

Doping in sports is, unfortunately, nothing new. Doping in horse racing is also, unfortunately, nothing new. However, it’s usually the horses who fail drug tests.

A recent rash of jockeys caught with cocaine in their systems indicates it’s the riders who are doping, though. The grandson of a racing legend was recently banned from the sport for six months for having an astronomical amount of cocaine in his system, and he is not alone. 2019 has been a record-setting year as more jockeys than ever before have been banned for drug use.

Jockeys have been tested with breathalyzers and urinalysis for more than 25 years, but it is not curbing cocaine abuse. The coke keeps them slim, a critical component of their profession. So, the British Horseracing Authority is considering adding hair testing to its screening policy.

In the UK, cricket players undergo hair testing at both the beginning and the end of the season. In the US, as we reported in the Screening News Network, the trucking industry has been trying to implement hair testing for years. Hair testing provides a much longer window of detection.

However, hair testing isn’t without scrutiny. Both natural hair color and hair treatments can affect how much of certain drugs get into the hair. Bleaching, straightening, and vigorous washing or brushing could decrease the concentration of drugs present in hair samples. There are also questions if a person’s race plays a role in what hair holds onto, or even absorbs, from the environment.

It will be interesting to see if America’s horse-racing counterparts take the same turn as the Brits.

ICYMI: Which state has been “badgering” federal lawmakers for years to drug test folks applying for unemployment benefits? The EBI Screening News Weekly Wrap has the answer and its nationwide implications. Subscribe here.

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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