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MASSACHUSETTS SENATOR PROPOSES FEDERAL BAN ON CREDIT CHECKS FOR EMPLOYMENT PURPOSES

“Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced legislation that prevents companies from considering a candidate’s credit history during the hiring process. Warren believes the screening process establishes unnecessary roadblocks for the poor seeking lucrative employment.

“This is about basic fairness — let people compete on the merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all their bills,” Warren said. “A bad credit rating is far more often the result of unexpected medical costs, unemployment, economic downturns, or other bad breaks than it is a reflection on an individual’s character or abilities.”

Warren and Senate Democrats assert that studies indicate a poor credit history does not reflect on an individual’s ability to perform a job well done. Currently, Americans with negative credit reports, especially after the 2008 financial crises, face unjust discrimination due to employer credit analysis.

The Equal Employment for All Act would alter the Fair Credit Reporting Act by prohibiting employers from considering a candidate’s financial history. Only the federal government or its contracting agencies could consider an individual’s credit rating when hiring for positions requiring national security clearance.

FICO, a leading provider of credit scores, reports that Americans’ average credit scores continue to sink despite spending and debt reduction. Roughly 35% of consumers, or 70 million Americans, have credit scores below 650, which is subprime. The workforce remains at a 35-year low. This move could help those caught with low scores, but qualified resumes.

For this reason, the proposed ban is gathering bi-partisan support among Americans that agree good candidates are facing discrimination of sorts.

“A good friend of mine has real trouble finding steady white-collar work solely because of his credit report. He’s got experience and references galore, but he made a few financial mistakes right out of school, and they’ve haunted him ever since. Since companies don’t hire him based on that credit report, he ends up in more financial trouble, which leads to more bad credit reports, and so on,” said Ryan Graff, an author and political commentator.

Banks and credit agencies can make serious mistakes too. Taking this out of the hiring equation helps qualified workers get the jobs they’re best suited for, regardless of irrelevant past mistakes. That’s a good thing.”

While the ban could level the playing field and protect a candidate’s privacy, what impact could this move have on employers? Should employers and employees willing to voluntarily exchange credit information through the hiring process be prohibited by a federal ban?

“Why ban this practice instead of incentivize employers to hire those with poor credit ratings? If I could accept a tax break to hire someone with a poor credit score, I would in a heartbeat,” said Steven, an entreprenuer and small-business owner in Dallas. “I don’t use this tool anymore because everyone has poor credit. So is this really the epidemic requiring federal action?”

Since the financial crisis of 2008, the percentage of employers using credit background checks dropped below half. Only 14% cited a credit check as the most important factor in a hiring decision, compared to 87% who said previous work experience, organizational fit and skills were the three most important factors. 80% hired someone despite a poor credit report.

Those that do conduct reports do so to protect their business. According to a 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resources, most employers screen with credit checks to prevent theft and embezzlement. Legal repercussions for negligent hiring and due diligence failures can be costly and removing screening tools places companies at risk. Currently, employers do not evaluate credit scores, but the subjective information in the report, such as debts, payment consistency, liabilities, default history and bankruptcy.

The bill has been endorsed by 50 advocacy groups, ranging from labor unions to women’s rights and minority-advocacy organizations. With heavy-hitters such as Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the bill could become law.”

 

 

Originally posted by The Washington Times and can be viewed at http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/citizen-warrior/2013/dec/17/elizabeth-warren-proposes-federal-ban-credit-check/#ixzz2nxCBE4Uo

U.K.: Police ‘Too Busy’ to Check Foreign Offenders’ Convictions

“Foreign criminals are ending up with shorter jail terms than British offenders because police are failing to carry out adequate background checks, a former intelligence chief has warned.  Michael Askew, an ex-superintendent at Scotland Yard’s intelligence bureau, claimed simple checks that could flag up an offender’s criminal history overseas are being overlooked by police who are too busy.  And he said UK citizens are receiving comparatively longer sentences as a result, because their offending history is always considered in court.

Calling for such checks to be ‘routine’ for foreign offenders, Mr. Askew pointed to a number of failings in the way police forces across the UK handle such cases.  His warning follows a spate of high-profile cases in which violent offenders have traveled freely to the UK to commit brutal crimes despite their past.  The alleged failures of police investigations could also increase concerns ahead of the UK’s decision to open its borders to migrants arriving from Romania and Bulgaria in January.

Mr. Askew said many forces were also regularly failing to act on European Arrest Warrants, and cited cutbacks as a factor in sub-standard investigations. He said that one in ten foreign nationals arrested when he worked at Scotland Yard was the subject of such a warrant, but they were not effectively investigated. He also pointed to legislation that suggests the failure of UK courts to check an alleged offender’s criminal history could be illegal.

Speaking at a conference in Romania reported by the Times, he said: ‘Every day hundreds of foreign nationals are arrested and the police don’t always investigate the criminality of those people back in their own countries. ‘Officers are under so much pressure to move on to the next case. We are not fully exploring intelligence opportunities and that can lead to problems.’  ‘It is not fair that a UK national goes to court in the UK and their previous convictions are taken into account and they are given a heavy sentence.’

Mr. Askew, who retired from the Metropolitan Police last year, helped to establish the police national database that allows forces to share information.  A damning Government assessment published earlier this year revealed that up to one in four organized criminals targeting Britain is from overseas. The Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee will explore the issue tomorrow. The committee’s chairman Keith Vaz echoed Mr. Askew’s comments, saying that courts are being ‘left in the dark’.  He said that free movement in Europe ‘definitely aids crime’, adding: ‘It means we are putting a lesser sentence on them than we would if we knew the whole history. It is a big worry.’”

 
Originally posted by The Daily Mail and can be found at  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2520536/Why-foreign-criminals-softer-sentences-Police-busy-check-offenders-convictions-overseas-warns-Scotland-Yard-chief.html#ixzz2nqjNGw1Q

Happy Friday!

THE IMPORTANCE OF A WORKPLACE VIOLENCE POLICY

“As CBS 2′s Maurice DuBois reported, workplace violence is becoming an all too common scene — a disgruntled employee, an ex-spouse or a dissatisfied client come backs to settle the score with a gun. Two million people are victims of workplace violence each year, with hundreds killed.

Experts say that number is on the rise.

“If we see bad economic times and you see a lot of layoffs or plants closing, then you’re going to see workplace violence,” said Paul Viollis, a workplace violence prevention specialist. Most people, however, don’t know how to react when faced with such danger.

It happened to City Councilman Charles Barron, D-Brooklyn. A gunman opened fire in the council chambers 10 years ago. “He’s just shooting, and so everybody’s saying, ‘Charles, get down, get down,’” Barron said. “It was the most traumatic moment of my life.” Barron survived because he made it to the nearest exit. But most people don’t chance it and hide behind office furniture, often with dire consequences.

CBS 2 obtained an NYPD video that shows how office furniture is no match for bullets. Shots fired by assault rifles, shotguns and hanguns can pierce desks, filing cabinets and cubicle partitions. “A workplace violence shooting will specifically target one or more people who this person blames for their lot in life,” Viollis said. The profile of a workplace shooter typically includes being male, between the ages of 25 and 45 and a very poor communicator. Viollis said your chance of survival increases dramatically if you have a plan.

“Only about 10 percent of corporations … have a stand-alone, robust workplace violence policy and they proactively train their employees,” he said. The New York State Labor Department, however, offers “on-site safety training” for free. “They look at different safety hazards,” said Eileen Franko, director of safety and health for the Labor Department. Experts agree everyone needs to know exit routes in advance. They suggest companies should come up with a code word or phrase that can alert employees a shooter is on the premises, such as “I’m dealing with Mark Smith.”

If evacuating is not an option, know a remote spot to hide. Once there, the little things can save your life, such as turning the ringer off on your cellphone-, blocking the door with furniture and not sounding the fire alarm — it may send others into the path of the shooter.”

Originally posted by CBS and can be viewed a http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/11/19/seen-at-11-dos-and-donts-when-faced-with-workplace-violence/