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Background Checks in California are Different than the Rest of the United States

Posted By Editor, Laurie, Thursday, March 2, 2017
Updated: Thursday, March 2, 2017

Contributed by Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR)

Speaker session: Avoiding Lawsuits and Bad Hires with Effective Background Screening March 6th - 3:00p

When it comes to background checks and due diligence, California has unique rules that go beyond the other 49 states and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the national law that regulates background checks. While California employers also need to follow the FCRA, there are additional “only in California” rules that employers must follow to the letter of the law.  A failure to dot every “i” or cross every “t’” allows applicants to sue for up to $10,000 regardless of damages.

And it’s not just state rules that employers need to understand.  Cities and counties have passed their own version of “Ban the Box” rules that also significantly impact how employers do background checks.  San Francisco and Los Angles are two large counties that have special rules for when and how criminal records can be considered.

Here are a few key areas that employers need to understand:

  1. California Special Rules and Forms:  Although there have been cases challenging the constitutionality of some California rules, the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies (ICRA) Act sets out some very specific rules that differ substantially from the national rules.  In California, for example, very specific language is needed on the front of a background report as well as in the release and authorization signed by a consumer.  California requires that a screening firm be identified along with their phone number.  California also has stricter rules about what goes into an agreement between a screening firm and an employer. California mandates the use of a Spanish language form in certain situations.

  2. Privacy and Offshoring: California passed a first in the nation offshoring law that applies specifically to background checks, with a number of requirements imposed on both employers and background firms.

  3. Expungements: California provides significant protection to ex-offenders who committed crimes, including felonies, when it comes to job hunting and what employers can legally discover or use.  The law prohibits an employer from asking about, seeking, or utilizing criminal convictions that have been judicially set aside.  Employers violating the new prohibitions can face civil penalties and even misdemeanor criminal charges if done intentionally. It also allows a convicted person to get a case expunged sooner. 

  4. Credit Reports: California regulates the use of credit report checks of job applicants and current employees by employers for employment purposes in very specific ways.

  5. Social Media Passwords:  California consumers are protected from revealing their social media passwords.

Despite all of the laws and special rules in California, “due diligence” through background checks is still mission critical for employers in the Golden State. Employees are typically a firm’s greatest investment and largest cost, and each hire also represents a large potential risk. Every employer has an obligation to exercise due diligence in hiring since an employer that hires someone it either knew – or should have known through reasonable screening – was dangerous, unfit, or unqualified for the work can be sued for negligent hiring.

The bottom line: California employers must maintain compliance with a whole different set of rules than the rest of the country when conducting due diligence background checks.

Lester S. Rosen is an attorney at law and CEO of  Employment Screening Resources, an accredited national background screening company located in California. He is the author of The Safe Hiring Manual and The Safe Hiring Audit. Lester is also a consultant, writer, and frequent presenter nationwide on pre-employment screening, safe hiring and legal compliance issues. He has qualified and testified in the California, Florida and Arkansas Superior Courts as an expert witness on issues surrounding safe hiring and due diligence. He has been a presenter for the past eight years at the SHRM National Conference. Attorney Rosen will cover more at his session, Avoiding Lawsuits and Bad Hires with Effective Background Screening, at HR West 2017 this Monday.


Tags:  employee background screening  employment law  employment lawyer  HR law  HR West 2017 

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The Manager’s Employee Engagement Checklist

Posted By Editor, Laurie, Thursday, March 2, 2017
Updated: Thursday, March 2, 2017

Contributed by Kevin Sheridan, Author, Speaker, Consultant, Chief Engagement Officer, Kevin Sheridan, LLC

Building a Magnetic Culture March 6th - 1:30p


Gallup’s 2016 State of the American Workplace Study highlighted the single greatest thing you can do to increase employee engagement: hire the right managers.

In fact, the study said that if you hire a manager who is disengaged, the workgroup they manage is three times more likely to be disengaged.

So even if you hire the right, highly engaged managers, they still need to know, and do, the most effective things to bring their work group to higher, and hopefully best-in-class, levels of engagement. And even if they know these engagement management “to dos,” they often forget to implement them, or execute them consistently.

So why not give them a checklist? Well, I created one for you and them, based on a key driver analysis of millions of employee engagement survey responses. The following suggestions are in order of importance. The Management Employee Engagement Checklist has been used by hundreds of organizations worldwide, with great success.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Put a reminder in your Outlook calendar to carve out one hour each week to recognize employees who do great work or     accomplish great outcomes.
  2. Have a Career Development conversation with each of your direct reports during the last quarter.
  3. During this conversation, did you ask them where they wanted to be in six months or a year and offer them help to achieve that career objective?
  4. Also during this conversation, did you ask them what things get them passionate and excited about doing their job?
    Conversely, did you ask them what things disengage them while at work?

Have you:

  1. Asked your employees what their passions and hobbies are outside of work, showing a genuine interest while listening to their response?* 
      *On a related note, the next time they do great work, give them a gift related to that passion or hobby (such as a paperback book).
  2. Given your direct reports access to a free resource which will empower them to privately see how engaged they are, as well as get suggestions
       on what they can do to become more engaged. Here is a link to such a free resource.
  3. Given them clear instructions and your expectations on what outcomes they should accomplish in their job?
  4. Encouraged them to review a list of reflective questions to ensure they are in a job/role about which they can get excited and passionate?
      Here is a link to a free resource.
  5. Found ways to insert more FUN into your department and workplace culture?

This checklist will prove useful to ensure that your managers are fully leveraging the key drivers of employee engagement.

It is a best practice that managers should review this checklist every month. Let it work for you and your team!

Kevin Sheridan has spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant. He has helped some of the world’s largest corporations break down detrimental processes and rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors in the process. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, is consistently recognized as a long overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement, and his most recent book, “Building a Magnetic Culture,” made the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today best-seller lists.



using code SPKRHRWEST to receive a $100 discount.

Meet up with Kevin, at his session: Building a Magnetic Culture March 6th - 1:30p

Tags:  best boss  Building a Magnetic Culture  HR West 2017  leadership  speaker 

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Do you have an effective executive presence?

Posted By Editor, Laurie, Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Contributed by Patrick Reilly, Resources in Action

Speaker session: 
Executive Presence and Managing Up: Building Your Brand

At the higher level of organizations and especially with Boards, executive presence is an essential success factor. Several years ago, I kept hearing from clients, who would say things like, “He needs to show up better. She does not have enough executive presence.”  When I would ask them what that looked like, I got a brief stare and then a “I don’t know, but I ‘ll know it when I see it!”

Business leaders need targets and goals to hit them.

Since most leaders are not able to define the issue of executive presence, I decided to research the question so I could build a model that leaders could follow and learn from. I wanted them to be aware of their executive presence strengths and challenges.

If you, as a leader, are required to have an executive presence, you need to know what that really means.

Executive presence is comprised of three core elements: how you act (gravitas), how you speak (communication) and how you look (appearance.) It can also be described as the skillful application of emotional intelligence and the effective presentation of your professional skills.  Sylvia Ann Hewitt’s research suggests that 67% of executive presence is comprised of your gravitas, 28% depends on the quality of your communication and 5% on your appearance.

My model, with its core components, is comprised of:


  1. Confidence – Can I share my point of view well?

  2. Competence Am I competent in my domain of technical expertise and able to communicate it effectively, especially to those who are not as expert in this area

  3. Courage Do I have the courage to take a stand for the things I believe in? Take well informed risks and drive change?

  4. Calmness under Pressure Can I project a sense of calm and poise regardless of the circumstances?

  5. Credibility (Balance) Do I have a balanced approach that includes being both assertive and results oriented while being compassionate and having empathy for others?

  6. Reliably deliver results Do I provide quality results in a timely fashion?


  1. Clarity and Crispness Is my communication in speaking and writing clear, crisp and succinct?  Do I have the tone and timbre in my voice that makes others want to listen?

  2. Connection Do I have strong relationships with people at all levels of the Organization? Do others see me as an effective listener, authentic, and approachable?


  1. Do I fit in with my peers and those who are one level up?

  2. Do I dress professionally for my company and in line with today’s standards?

  3. Do I exhibit good manners, use appropriate language and employ good grammar? Why is this section in italics? I guess it is to make it parallel with the first two. Is that right?

Once you have attained clarity about your strengths and challenges you need to learn how to put your ideas into action.

To be a credible leader you must have followers (Kouzes and Posner), but how do you demonstrate those qualities convincingly so that they become more compelling over time? Some question if these skills are trainable and learnable, but one must also begin to learn some non-traditional business skills to become a leader. These skills require you to access the energy in your body and to learn to convey your passion to others with fire (in a way that works for you and is in concert with your true self). Actors are trained this way. They learn how to step into a role and convey to others what might be possible, while also communicating about how we might achieve an end-result or final goal.

Your leadership presence becomes more visible when you can convey a set of messages (about your organization) that:

  1. Will get the attention of your people,

  2. Support them to listen more carefully, and

  3. Ignite their drive to support you to reach the goals of the company as well as the future you have described and set forth.

If you need guidance around finding or creating a stronger executive presence, please visit my website, You can also contact me directly at or 510-524-4934. 

Are you going to HR West next week? My session, Executive Presence and Managing Up: Building Your Brand, will cover more about how to cultivate a new or better executive presence.


About Patrick Reilly

President of Resources in Action, Reilly’s coaching career (25 years) began when a client asked him if he would provide some leadership coaching. He soon realized that he was adept and well suited to help leaders leverage their strengths to become more powerful. His business background in operations, technology and R&D informs his work as an executive coach. Reilly’s work focuses on supporting leaders in developing their executive presence and managing up. Clients describe him as approachable and compassionate while being focused, organized and results driven. He has two grown children who, he says, “trained him to work well with others.”

Tags:  effective communication skills  effective leadership  Executive Coaching  HR management skills  HR West 2017  leadership  leadership development 

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Discover Team Building for the Modern Day with HR West Speaker, Yes Works Co-Founder, Aaron Schmookler

Posted By Editor, Laurie, Thursday, February 23, 2017
Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hear HR West 2017 Speaker, Yes Works Co-Founder, Aaron Schmookler,
as he shares his insight on how to build a strong and successful company team on the Go Time Podcast!

Aaron and partner/co-founder of Yes Works, Adam Utley will present,
Your Job is Bigger Than You Think: Improvisation for a Culture of Yes!
March 6, 2017, 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Have you registered yet? We hope you will!
Register Here.

In the meantime, listen in for a preview on the kind of information you'll take away from Aaron and Adam's #HRWest17 session!

Tags:  Aaron Schmookler  company culture  HR West 2017  team building  Yes Works 

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Four Best Practices for a Productive Open Enrollment

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Four Best Practices for a Productive Open Enrollment

Tags:  benefits strategy  employee benefits  employee health  health insurance  HR Management  HR West 2017  WageWorks 

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