The recent demands by Member Companies of the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) for background checks upon Contractors could actually land all of them not only in the middle of class action lawsuits, but squarely in the cross hairs of the
Obama Administration’s Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC). We actually broke this story earlier this year and had reached out to most of the National Order Mills and Prime Vendors. We never heard anything back.
Scott Thurm, of the Wall Street Journal Online, reports as follows,
Federal regulators Tuesday accused two large employers of improperly using criminal-background checks in hiring, the latest salvo in a contentious debate over whether such screening amounts to discrimination against black applicants.
In complaints filed in federal courts in Illinois and South Carolina, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said two companies discount retailer Dollar General Corp. and a U.S. unit of German auto maker BMW generally barred potential employees based on the criminal checks, when they should have reviewed each applicant. The commission said the policies had the effect of discriminating against black applicants.
So, while NAMFS and its Member Companies may refuse to release information to the Contractors applying for work and the General Public, we believe that they are going to have a far more difficult time ignoring the Obama Administration. We have additionally reached out to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) based primarily upon the fact that many within this Industry have refused to pay African American Women in the Southeast working upon US Veterans Affairs (VA) Contracts.
For an Industry comprised almost exclusively of Caucasian Executives it is extremely difficult for me not to be concerned with respect to the nefarious stigma of discrimination raising its ugly head. In an Industry which has absolutely no regulation; no Congressional Oversight; and daily creates arbitrary and capricious rules targeted at poverty level Contractors, it is really NOT too far off base to believe that discrimination may play a KEY role in utilizing background checks as an avenue to deprive honorable minorities for trivial incidents earlier in their youth.
Neither the NAMFS nor the Property Preservation Industry has been … forthcoming in any way, shape or form in precisely how these background checks are to be used. Additionally, outfits like Cyprexx Services (Cyprexx) has targeted currently employed Contractors in a manner similar to that which EEOC has litigated upon in the past. Cyprexx requires ALL current Contractors to Click a Pop Up Window allowing them to perform a Background Check or the Contractor is not allowed to enter any of their previously assigned Contract Work Orders.
We spoke with several NAMFS’ Member Company Owners and each opined that the recent demands for Background Checks place all Companies in a very dangerous position with respect to the independent contractor vs. employee relationship. One owner, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated,
You really aren’t wrong in your approach with the SAM Account and DUNS Number. Look, this lays all the burden upon the US Government to check everything out and the accounts are free. I tend to agree that when you run a background [check] you are identifying them as an individual and not a company. Pretty clear cut.
At the end of the day, the reality is that the background checks are yet another knee jerk reaction in an Industry replete with them. Here is the real deal. Anyone can get anybody’s ID and submit it to any of the NAMFS Member Companies. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY to verify whom they are. Additionally, the fly-by-night outfits out there have no root access to criminal records. Now, if the Industry was attempting to be legitimate and not make a quick dollar — make no mistake whatsoever there is money to be made on this new hustle — they would have Contractors go to their local police stations so that proper ID could be verified!!! Hell, the SAM and DUNS system removes the problems anyway.
Anticipate a tremendous amount of discrimination litigation coming down the pike. Almost smells like the Service Contract Act (SCA) except from a discriminatory point-of-view!