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Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

(OP)
I knew my last job was not a good place for me, even before they terminated my employment at the end of the year.  I started talking to a recruiter who specializes in my field months before I was let go.  I feel like I am being put through the ringer.  So far I have,

1.  Been interviewed over the phone for character and technical knowledge  on three separate occasions.  I passed those interviews.  
2.  Taken an on-line test for MS Word
3.  Taken an on-line test for Excel proficiency
4.  Taken an on-line test probing my personal interests, attitudes and values
5.  Taken in on-line test for behavioral style.

I assume I did well on the on-line tests.  I have been passed on to the interview-in-person stage.  But first I have to fill out and return,

1.  An Application for Employment which asks my employment record back to the very beginning
2.  I must sign a document that describes my rights in the State of California, and
3.  I must also sign a Disclosure and Authorization form, including my social security number and birthdate allowing this potential employer to complete a criminal background check, a credit check and run a DMV record.  

This is a private company.  It is not a bank or other financial institution.  It is not part of the judicial branch of the United States.  I am not applying for a job as a swat team sharp shooter.  I can't image that I am applying for a job where I must routinely handle in excess of $10,000 in cash.  I mention all of these things because there are laws in California about what a potential employer can get from you PRIOR to being hired.  As of January 1, employers are very restricted on when they can run a credit check.  You pretty much have to be a bank or a law enforcement agency or similar.

The Application covers the "have you ever been convicted of a felony, plead guilty or arrested and currently out on bail pending trial" question.  I don't have a problem with that.  But I do have a problem offering up my social security number and birthdate so that they can run a DMV and credit check.  It's the credit check that I have the most trouble with.  Mine is not great, some of it my fault, some of it not.  I just don't think it's their business.

As an alternative, I have offered to bring my own copy of my 10-year DMV record which should now be completely clean with zero points.  I have considered offering to do a drug test and have them fingerprint me instead of the credit and criminal checks.  I have no criminal record.  I've never been arrested and my drug test should come up clean, but a friend said not to offer to do those and just go ahead and give them my SSN and birthdate.

I am really, really not comfortable with that.  I am somewhat indignant because I have been put through a battery of tests for a job and have not been told for what position I am being considered.  The Word and Excel proficiency tests were something that I would give to someone being considered for the Steno Pool.  The tests asked none of the basics and was mostly keyboard short cuts.  The credit and criminal background would be appropriate if I were being considered for company accountant or corporate signatory.  Neither one of those positions would have required the hour long technical interview asking me to describe the exact steps required for installing a 4-ply built up roof as well as describing what a 'grout curtain' does.  

In addition to the endless forms and tests, they have requested that I also bring in copies of recent reports, drawings, details and proposals I have completed for my employer WTF!  Are they kidding?  

Am I over reacting to this?
 

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

You're under-reacting.

Either they are trying to gauge just how much sh!t you will take, in which case you've taken too much already, or the whole thing is an identify theft scam.

Tell them to make a detailed written offer or go to hell.

 

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Some say the office has become the ultimate nanny state.

Most likely they are just asking for the information because they think they can and think they should.  If they actually look at it at all is another matter.

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Cass,
I went through this 12 years ago. I refused to sign.
2 years later the company went bust, and the company I was then working for, (Who did not ask for all that crap) bought them out.

  I derived a great deal of satisfaction in recommending to my boss, that they, not hire, the head of HR at the company we were acquiring.
There are, reasonable companies out there,keep looking.
B.E.

The good engineer does not need to memorize every formula; he just needs to know where he can find them when he needs them.  Old professor

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

totally agree with Mike.  seriously, you have no idea what position you're up for?  and aren't those things they're asking for from your previous employer technically property of your previous employer?

maybe it's time to move to another city.  yowza.

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Good grief, I knew that employees or potential employees had far more rights in the UK than the USA but I did not realise they were that different.

We seem to have arrived at the two opposite ends of what could be seen as reasonable.
 

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

ajack1

Yes it is totally different in the USA to the UK.
Here unless you have a signed contract in most states you are working on an at will basis. Which means you only have to give or get an hours' notice, or an hours pay before you either quit, or the company lets you go. Also in some states they have indentured servitude laws which make some contracts unenforcable.

 In a lot of companies the first thing you will know about your impending doom is two security guards showing up at your desk, emptying its contents into a couple of cardboard boxes and escorting you to the personnel office.


On the shop floor in a trade union shop it is almost as bad.  The unions in the USA act as a hiring agents for the employers. So when work runs out, you will be sent back to the union hall to sit on the bench to await your next job dispatch. Just like a temp agency in the UK.
On the other side of the coin you can go where you like, and starting your own business is far easier than the UK

B.E.

The good engineer does not need to memorize every formula; he just needs to know where he can find them when he needs them.  Old professor

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Quote (casseopeia):

I am somewhat indignant because I have been put through a battery of tests for a job and have not been told for what position I am being considered.
I'm trying to imagine how you even got into such a position... if a recruiter won't tell me the job specifics, I don't give them permission to send in my particulars.  Blindly applying to any company is just not a mindset option for me...

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Cass,
Are you sure you are not interviewing for a "purple squirrel" position?
B.E.

The good engineer does not need to memorize every formula; he just needs to know where he can find them when he needs them.  Old professor

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

I am surprised they haven't asked for a DNA sample to verify who you claim to be?  Seriously, your hunch is right- avoid this firm and move on today. Try networking and applying directly at the firm's website.

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Well, if thats the level of documentation and rigour that they're asking for as a potential employee, you don't need much of an imagination to see what it'd be like to work for them.  

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

My current job required a background check.
They did not, however, ask for any information to do the background check until after they had sent me the offer letter.
I did not consider it unreasonable, as I have seen unscrupulous individuals at work that would not have been hired after a simple criminal background check.  I also do a lot of non-secret government work.

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

have you ever heard of E-Verify?, the background check is standard fare now in most border states along with any business that does work for the Government. In some cases it is required by law. What you describe sounds similar if not a bit more in depth than what is required by DHS.

see Dept. of Homeland Security
http://www.dhs.gov/e-verify

 

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

(OP)
E-Verify is prohibited from being enforced in California.  An employer can ask if you can prove a legal right to work in the US after you are hired.  For me, I am still carrying around a copy of my birth certificate from the last job just for that purpose.  I've heard that there are numerous clerical errors with E-Verify.  It sounds good until the government gets their hands on it.

berkshire, this could be a "purple squirrel" situation, but I'm feeling more like I am being data-mined.  The interview process is for the purpose of obtaining information about one of their competitors.  That's why the request for the reports, proposals drawings and details.

sita, no matter how horrible my ex-employer is, there is no way I would consider turning over documents to a competitor.  It's unethical.

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

I agree with FixedEarth.  Networking and/or direct applying to the company is the way to go.  At least you know who you're dealing with.

Speaking of moral and legal boundaries, about 12 years ago, I went through a recruiter for a new position.  Recruiter gave my information to new company; manager at new company was friends with my old manager, called him up and told him I was leaving the old company, which made things extremely uncomfortable.  After that, I refused to interview with the new company, but found a better job through networking.  I also chewed out the recruiter big time for letting that ever happen.

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

if you do any work for federal agencies, e-verify or I-9 is required, regardless of state laws (just not before you are hired). Nothing however prevents them from obtaining the necessary information to run the e-verify just as soon as you sign an employment contract...

Not sure how California employers deal with state laws prventing e-verify when they want to work on Government contracts which require it.

Recently went through the e-verify/I-9 process in Arizona, what a nightmare. Also had to do it for subconsultants on a (government) project and that was really tough.

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Lawyers made it this way!!!

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

I once had an employee, probably my best employee, arrested by the department of homeland security, imprisoned for four months, and deported to Pakistan, all because he had the balls to sue Tom Ridge for holding up his citizenship application after 9/11.

I knew none of this before I hired him.  He just disappeared one day, and I lost two full days of work running around playing Magnum PI trying to figure out what happened.  

Not sure how relevant that story is, but I just wanted to share.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Maybe I'm being contrarian, but when an employer hires you, it's a big investment. There's salary, training, HR, paperwork, etc. And I'm of the opinion that there's a rough correlation of how someone conducts their personal life and how they perform at their job. It's not perfect, but it's my opinion.
So do you blame an potential employer for doing a credit check on a future employee? If the employee has a 200 credit rating, maybe there's a legitimate reason. Temporary health problem, student loans or whatever. Ot maybe the future employee is careless in their personal life in a way that might either reflect on their job performance or impact it directly (phone calls from collection agencies, wage garnishments, other distractions).
It's a tool. No one should hire based on credit ratings, but if they're stunningly bad, the question should be put out there.

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Jed,

You run into serious issues of profiling with that attitude when it comes to hiring.  Take for example the person whose spouse got sick, causing them to lose their house and trashing their credit rating.  They may be an awesome worker, but you refused them a job based upon their credit rating... bad idea from a legal standpoint.  Financial maturity should only come into play when the position involves control of money (embezzlement) and/or control of state secrets (bribery).
 

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

I thought I covered that. If there's a legitimate reason, that's fine. Sick spouse, legitimate.  

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

I guess I read your response incorrectly.  It certainly comes down to "But how do you know?"  You can't ask them what caused the low credit score (unless you want a visit from their lawyer), you can only run their score and cross your fingers.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

(OP)
The more research I do the more alarming all of this looks. There has been an explosion of businesses that will perform pre-employment background checks.  The information that they check includes;

1.  Verifying education.  I have my college transcript.
2.  Verifying employment.  I have paycheck stubs going back 15-20 years.  I don't have my part-time paycheck stubs from summer employment during college, but I'm pretty sure my time selling candy and waitressing are of no interest to this employer.
3.  DMV record.  I have a copy of my own 10-year DMV recored that I got for $5 the last year when I renewed my license.
4.  Criminal and arrest record.  This is the most difficult for me because I have no arrest or criminal record and it's tough to prove a negative.  I've offered up my fingerprints, however.  I have been bonded before, but that was 10 years ago.
5. Citizenship.  I have a US birth certificate.
6.  Credit check.  No longer allowed in many states, including California because employers have been illegally using bad marks on your credit report to eliminate candidates from being considered for employment without ever asking what caused the black marks to start with.

The downside is that you are giving up personal information that can be used for identity theft to every single potential employer.  I must have applied to 50-60 places before I got my last job.  Every time someone runs a credit check, it slightly downgrades your rating.  I find it suspicious that there are SO MANY companies clamoring for the social security numbers and birth dates of the legions of unemployed desperate for a job.  Who regulates these companies?  I am forced to give up my personal information to some 24 year old HR manager who then turns it over to Internet Background Checker of the Week.

I have had my identity stolen twice.  Once from a post office box.  The person using my information managed to cash a check for about $4,000 for the sale of shares in a key personnel insurance policy I had.  I have been working with an attorney for over 18 months now to retrieve the money, minus the percentage that goes to the attorney.  The second time I traced the theft back to a period of time when I was a research subject at Stanford University and their computer records were hacked.  I still have bad marks on my credit report that I have to explain every single time I rent an apartment or apply for a new credit card.  I also have some of my own causes for black marks on my credit report, but it should in no way affect my ability to get a job in my field.

The other thing that I've found is that employers are using the need to run a background check as a way to find out the age of a potential employee.  At my interview for my last employer my age was brought up as a potential additional cost to to them during salary negotiations because most of their technical staff were right out of school and in their early twenties and their health premiums low.  Mine would be higher than theirs because I was closer to the age of their parents.  So I had to negotiate a job where I purchased my own health care outside of their plan.

The EEOC has ruled that while a potential employer cannot ask you your age, they can require that you supply your birth date for the purpose of performing a background check.  They justify this ruling by saying that the employer cannot use your age as a reason not to hire you.  I imagine there are a vast number of employers out there concerned that anyone over 40 is going to cost them too much in health care, but are not about to admit it so they are not sued for discrimination.

In California, pot smokers and cokeheads are better protected.
 

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Quote (casseopeia):

Every time someone runs a credit check, it slightly downgrades your rating.
Not necessarily.  Your score drops a few points with the first check (single digit drop), but a number of successive checks within a short period of time (I believe the time is 60 days, but it may be less) are considered as one and do not further harm your score.

So you can at least sleep a bit better at night on that one point... but your other points are quite valid, and the health insurance is one problem I mentioned in an earlier thread.  Unfortunately, "illegal" doesn't always mean "I can stop you from doing it." :(

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

recommend you go and apply in person, hand written - not an online form and if they ask for personal information, indicate you will provide it as needed when you are hired. If they want to see before hand, say you will bring it in but for security purposes, no copies can be made.
 

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

"I believe the time is 60 days, but it may be less) are considered as one and do not further harm your score."

Only partially correct.  Multiple checks for home loans within a 45 day period are OK.  For anything else, it's BAD, since it implies you're desperately hunting for credit.

TTFN
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

IR, the 45 days thing rings a bell...

I know it's not limited to home loans.  Also car loans, and others.  If the request comes from a department store / credit card company, then yes, that can be bad... from utility companies, for example, no.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Whatever Happened to Legal and Moral Boundaries?

Here you go.

"While all credit inquiries are recorded and displayed on credit reports for a period of time, credit inquiries that were made by the owner (self-check), by an employer (for employee verification) or by companies initiating pre-screened offers of credit or insurance do not have any impact on a credit score."
 

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