Navigating Michigan’s expungement Laws with the introduction of automated expungements

April 2023 marks the introduction of automated expungements in Michigan, making it more critical than ever for employers and landlords to stay informed about the state’s expungement laws. With these changes, more people are now eligible to have their criminal records expunged, which may impact your hiring and tenant screening processes. This blog post will provide an overview of Michigan’s expungement laws, discuss the implications of automated expungements for employers and landlords, and offer guidance on how to navigate these changes.

Michigan’s Expungement Laws: An Overview

In April 2021, Michigan’s Clean Slate Act went into effect, expanding the types and numbers of offenses that can be expunged. Under the act, individuals could have up to 2 felony convictions expunged 10 years after sentencing or release from custody, and up to 4 misdemeanors expunged 7 years after sentencing.

Starting from April 2023, the process of expungement has become more accessible through the implementation of automated expungements. These expungements will automatically clear eligible convictions from an individual’s public record without requiring them to file a petition in court. . Certain serious offenses, such as assaultive crimes, human trafficking, and those involving minors or vulnerable adults, are not eligible for automatic expungement. The introduction of automated expungements is expected to affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in Michigan.

Implications for Employers

As an employer, it is crucial […]

By |March 31st, 2023|Categories: Background checks, Criminal checks, Employment screening, Government, Legal, Tenant screening|

The impact of criminal records on housing opportunities and what landlords can do about it

As a landlord, conducting a criminal background check on potential tenants is a crucial part of the tenant screening process. Criminal records can provide valuable insights into a tenant’s character and past behavior, helping you make informed decisions about whether to approve or deny a rental application. However, the use of criminal records in tenant screening has been a topic of debate in recent years, as it can have a significant impact on housing opportunities for individuals with criminal records.

The reality is that having a criminal record can make it challenging for individuals to secure safe and affordable housing. Many landlords and property managers are reluctant to rent to tenants with criminal records, as they may be perceived as a risk to other tenants or the property itself. This can result in discrimination against individuals with criminal records, limiting their housing opportunities and perpetuating cycles of poverty and recidivism. State and local governments have begun to notice this problem, and to take action. A large, permanent class of people with no ability to find housing is a significant social issue.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. It does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on criminal history. But if a policy is shown to have disparate racial impacts, it can be the basis for a lawsuit. Some minorities are more likely to be arrested than others — so […]

By |February 16th, 2023|Categories: Criminal checks, Legal, Tenant screening|

How to handle and respond to a negative result found during a background check

Handling a negative result found during a background check can be a sensitive and challenging task for employers. It’s important to approach this situation carefully and in compliance with legal requirements. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you respond to a disappointing result found during a background check:

First, it’s important to verify the information. Before taking any action, it’s essential to verify the report and confirm that the negative result is accurate. You are required by law to give the candidate a copy of any negative report. Hold off from taking any action — including taking the applicant out of consideration for a new job — until they have had a chance to respond. You should allow them at least a few business days. You may need to speak with your background check provider or the relevant authorities to confirm the information, and to understand the context and circumstances surrounding the discrepancy or negative result. Errors in court records can and do happen! Identity confusion is common as well — most criminal records are indexed only by name and date of birth, with the social security number used to confirm the person’s full name and location at that time. For very common names, the possibility of errors becomes greater.

Second, it’s important to comply with legal requirements. There are many laws and regulations regarding background checks, and it’s particularly important to follow them in this situation. For […]

By |February 2nd, 2023|Categories: Background checks, Employment screening, Legal|

How to conduct an effective background check for a remote employee

Conducting an effective background check for a remote or virtual employee can be a bit more challenging than for an in-person hire. It is important to take into account the unique challenges that arise when hiring someone who will be working remotely. Here are a few things to keep in mind when conducting background checks for remote employees:

First, it’s important to verify their identity. With remote work, it can be more difficult to confirm that the person you are hiring is who they say they are. You can use online verification tools, such as video conferencing, to confirm the employee’s identity. Their appearance should be compared with a copy of their driver’s license or other photo id. A social security number validation can help confirm that the applicant is providing valid information. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the employee’s contact information is accurate, so that you can reach them if needed.

As with any employment background check, the candidate must agree in writing to allow the background check. You must also provide them with certain required federal and state notices. We provide a sample background check authorization form which you can customize for your company needs. For a remote employee you can get this signature by fax, scan, PDF e-signature, DocuSign, or even from photos snapped on a cell phone. If you do use the cell phone method, be sure to have the employee initial each page […]

By |January 21st, 2023|Categories: Background checks, Criminal checks, Employment screening|

Ban the box: Rules for employment screening

Over the past twenty years, background checks have become increasingly powerful. The core of a good background check is information, and information everywhere has become easier to access with the rise of databases. This has been very disruptive to social policy, and governments have responded with new laws. An increasing emphasis on fairness, racial equity, and full economic access means that these rules are continuing to develop over time. Failure to understand them can be an expensive mistake.

Criminal records are created in local courthouses. An old, traditional search would go through the following steps:

  • Figure out where the subject has lived, by using their social security number.
  • Go to any courthouse where they had lived within the past 7 years, and look for any criminal records. Going to courthouses takes time and money, so limiting the scope of the search to 7 years kept costs down. (In some cases the client could get a 10 year search for an extra fee.)

There were limits to this type of search. It might miss crimes committed out of town. Most importantly, it meant that crimes over 7 years old tended to be forgotten. While the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) generally allows convictions to be reported indefinitely, it was cost prohibitive to search too far back for most candidates.

Background checks changed once some enterprising companies began buying court records in bulk and entering them into searchable databases. Suddenly it was very easy to find records of crimes committed 20 years ago. Minor offenses […]

By |February 15th, 2021|Categories: Background checks, Criminal checks, Employment screening, Government, Legal|

Background checks in an open environment

At SentryLink we are often asked why we require an employee’s mailing and e-mail address before displaying reports. For an answer to this, we need only to look at a recent class action lawsuit filed against an employer: Amazon Hit With Another Background Check Class Action Lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Amazon initially offered Theo Feldstein a job. They then ran a background check on him through Accurate Background Inc. In this case, accurate was a misnomer — there were criminal convictions incorrectly listed on the report. Amazon withdrew the job offer, without giving him a chance to get things corrected, or providing him with a copy of the report as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Feldstein claims he “happened to find out” that a background check had been received on him by Amazon. (It’s been a bad year for Amazon: a similar lawsuit was filed in April 2015.)

This is not the way things are supposed to happen. Job applicants have the right to know that they have been investigated, and that negative information may have been provided. The sad fact is, public records are imperfect. With thousands of county courts across the country, many of them not automated, errors can and do occur. Even worse are problems of identity confusion; as social security numbers are increasingly removed from case records, the risk of finding someone else with the same full name, date of birth, and even residence history increases.

How can we fix this? Follow the law, let […]

By |March 2nd, 2016|Categories: Employment screening, FCRA, Legal|
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