Krispy Kreme Fined for hiring illegal workers

If Krispy Kreme didn’t have enough problems already – here comes news they’ve been fined by the EEOC for hiring illegal (undocumented) workers in their Cincinnati factory. The fine amounts to $40,000.

What is remarkable about this fine is how easily it could have been prevented. The paperwork is easy – you just download an I-9 form off the internet. If there is any doubt about the documentation a candidate provides, just login to e-verify that’s provided by the Department of Homeland Security. That would have been much cheaper than $40,000 and the embarassment caused by the resulting publicity.

And in case you think it might not happen to you – ICE has announced audits of 652 other businesses in the coming months (and we’re sure there are more to follow!). The Obama administration has changed the focus from illegal employees to the employers that employ them.

Do References Matter?

You’re about to make a job offer to a candidate. Should you call his or her references?

Some people say yes, others say no. I’m in the latter category.

First, unless the candidate is a complete moron, they’re not going to give you names of people who provide a negative reference. And most previous employers are understandably nervous about providing any information on a former employee.

Some of our clients like to verify the candidates dates of employment or compensation. Fine – ask the candidate for a copy of their most recent W-2 form or paycheck stub. Other than that, calling references is a lot of time for a very little reward.

Following standard procedures, you can require a background check, drug testing or even skills testing to verify information and make sure the candidate is you he/she says they are.

Here’s an article in the South Jersey Courier Post that talks about the reference controversy. However, I seriously disagree with parts of the article that suggest visiting a candidates social networking sites as a pre-hire investigation. As I wrote back in May, using google and social networking sites to evaluate potential candidates is a really bad idea.

What does calling references accomplish?

Facebook – Another Employer Dilemma

Some recruiters and hiring managers just can’t get enough information about a job candidate. And the restrictions on what you can – and cannot – ask in the interviewing process are restrictive.

So therefore, there is no reason for any employer to search Facebook, MySpace, etc. for further information on a candidate. Sure, you might find more information – but it may or may not be true. And if you find information that you’re not supposed to know, then you could be liable for a wrongful employment decision – whether you used that information or not.

Just say no to Facebook when hiring an employee.

Jackie Ford at Marketwatch has a good article which articulates specific, additional reasons why employers can be liable.

When Employment Applications Go Bad

Starbucks narrowly missed losing another employment-related lawsuit – this time, about their employment application.

A California State Court of Appeal overturned a decision that would have made Starbucks liable for $26 million because of an improper employment application.

In California, it’s permissable to ask if a candidate has previous criminal convictions – except for minor offenses, such as possession of marijuana. The Starbucks application made no such provision.

An excellent summary of the case is written by Richard S. Rosenberg of Ballard, Rosenberg, Golper & Savitt here.

What is of bigger concern is what application form most businesses are using. One of the first things we review during our HR Compliance Audit is the employment application. Small businesses often use applications from their local office supply company.

Big mistake.

Each state has different criteria, and the employment application needs to be state-specific and legally reviewed.

Time to check your employment application!

Employers: Get a new Employment Application

When we conduct HR Compliance Audits for our clients, one of the first things we look at is their employment application (assuming they even have one).

Most smaller business go to Office Depot and pick up a packet of standard applications. Big mistake. Most of those applications are not state-specific and may even ask questions prohibited by state laws.

A legally reviewed employment application is critical. Solely relying on a resume does not solve the problem: you should get signatures that the candidate signs understanding that you’re an at-will employer; that they approve of you getting references or background checks; and that any lies on the application could result in failure to hire or termination.

Also – studies suggest that up to 70% of all resumes contain false or misleading information.

An even clearer argument is made by Jennifer Brown Shaw and Matthew Norfleet in this post on the Shaw Valenza website.

Your Job Application May Be Cause for Age Discrimination

Among the myriad of problems a business owner faces is compliance with the numerous federal and state laws pertaining to discrimination.

While experts and consultants see these issues as relatively simple and inexpensive to correct – the fact remains that business owners are either to overwhelmed to manage them; too ignorant to know; or – worse – to callous to even care.

Even the simplest thing can cause major problems. Take your Application For Employment form, for example.

I’m stunned at the number of applications which ask the applicant’s age. This is illegal in the United States.

(You can ask if the applicant meets a minimum age requirement if the position requires a minimum age; and you can certainly ask if an applicant can provide proof of authorization to work in the United States – but proof should only be provided after a job offer is made. And in neither situation should you ask for proof of age during the application process).

Yet it continues to happen. Over and over again.

Age discrimination is illegal. And one of the easiest ways to fix this problem is to get an up-to-date employment application from a reputable attorney or consultant.

Courtesy and the Miami Herald.

Hiring Someone Just Like You

Most managers do a poor job of hiring. With the average employee turnover rate around 20-30% annually, that percentage is almost entirely a reflection on poor hiring practices.

Many managers are looking for someone just like themselves in terms of mannerisms, appearance, culture and skill sets.

David G. Javitch, Ph.D, writing in Entrepreneur magazine, calls this hiring practice “mirror-hiring”.

In truth, you want to hire to your weaknesses, and not your natural strengths. An honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses combined with your desire to bring in people who have a different skill set can only help you and your team.

via via MSNBC

Pre-Employment Testing: Can You Do It?

Lots of business use tests prior to hiring a new employee. These can be skills tests such as math; aptitude (which are frequently done for sales positions); or personal instincts). Done properly, these tests can greatly reduce turnover and improve chances for a successful hire.

But there is a significant downside, if these tests are done improperly, not employment-related, or have the possibility of generating a pattern of discrimination. The classic example of the latter is Federal Express, which in 2007 reached a $55 million settlement as a result of a lawsuit that alleged FedEx used a ‘basic skills test’ for promotions. 86% of white employees passed the test, compared to 47% of blacks and 62% for latinos.

Make sure you use the following guidelines when evaluating or considering pre-employment testing:

  1. Know when to administer the test (pre-job offer or post-job offer)
  2. Make sure the company you use to conduct the testing has validity – they have proof that the test is non-discriminatory
  3. Make sure the test is employment related for the position (for example, you don’t want to administer a math aptitude test for a dockworker).

Finally, make sure to review your program frequently with your HR Department or employment attorney.

Courtesy and Baker Hostetler

Pre-Employment Drug Testing

There’s a fine line between what is desirable and what is legal in the workplace. Many employers would like to institute random drug testing of current employees, or pre-employment drug testing.

If you have such a policy or are considering one, make sure to consult an employment attorney. The laws in this area change so frequently, it’s difficult to know what is acceptable and what isn’t.

For example, a candidate for a part-time page at a city library in Oregon was required to take a drug test. She refused and sued. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld, deciding this was a violation of the 4th Amendment. (Lanier v. City of Woodside)

In California, pre-employment testing is – in many cases – acceptable. But ask yourself what would require the need for drug testing? If it’s a receptionist, what is the rationale? It’s more understandable if the position requires an employee to drive, or handle cash, or operate machinery. Make sure your decision to drug test is correct for the position and your company, and always consult counsel before implementing such a plan.

From Barker Olmstead & Barnier.

Personality Tests Prior to Hiring

The phalanx of assessment tests available to employers as they interview job candidates continues to grow.

The challenge is to decide between purely objective criteria (who is the most qualified person for the job) and subjective (who will be the best fit for my company).

Not all assessments are suitable for use as pre-employment assessments. Psychological assessments that were designed for clinical or diagnostic use, for example, should not be used. The courts have consistently ruled that psychological testing generally has no place in the business environment.

An assessment – properly administered – is invaluable to the hiring process and can increase your productivity while reducing your turnover. I personally favor and administer the Kolbe Assessment program. But find out what works best for you – make sure to involve an expert in the process.

Some excellent advice – some of which I’ve included here – is from Penny Morey in this article at