How should I handle a reference request from a former employee who was less than stellar?

Q. A former employee asked me to provide a reference to his new prospective employer. While he left the company on good terms, he had lateness problems, his performance was substandard and I was not fond of him. Am I required to act as his reference? Can he sue me for giving him a bad reference?

$600K fine: A reminder to take I-9 forms seriously

A California-based production company, Hartmann Studios, has been slapped with the largest fine ever for Form I-9 paperwork violations.

Do we have to hire the partying applicant?

Q. We are hiring a new salesperson, and were about to offer the position to a seemingly well-qualified applicant. As part of our reference check, a social media search was also conducted. Several photos of the candidate passed out surrounded by empty booze bottles at what looks like a fraternity party and other photos of partying were found. We are considering not hiring this applicant because of the results of the social media search. Would that present any problem for us legally?

Are employers liable for negligence if they hire employees with prior criminal convictions?

Q. I am considering hiring a few job applicants who have prior criminal convictions on their records. Can I be liable for negligence if one of these individuals breaks the rules again?

Review noncompete agreement before hiring

Before you hire employees from the competition, make sure they don’t have an existing noncompete agreement. When in doubt, consult an attorney.

Should you copy and retain employees' I-9 supporting documents?


HR and hiring managers have so many decisions to make when it comes to I-9 and E-Verify compliance. One of the most frequently asked policy decisions is actually quite mundane on its surface, yet the answer can be tricky.

We found questionable I-9 documents: What now?

Q: “While conducting an annual self-audit of employee files and I-9 compliance, I have encountered some questionable documents that I believe to be fraudulent. If I contact an ICE agent to verify these documents, will this then trigger a company wide ICE audit?” – Santana, Texas

Is it OK to simply refuse to hire sex offenders?

Q. After narrowing our search to one candidate, we learned that the applicant may be listed as a registered sex offender. We would just rather not hire this applicant. Can we legally do that?

Before you check Facebook, ask 3 questions


The practice of searching applicants’ social media accounts for background information is drawing increasing scrutiny. It’s legally risky. When deciding whether to check applicants’ social media content for background-check purposes, consider these questions.

No more credit checks for many New York City job applicants

Do you routinely conduct credit checks on job applicants? Are you located in New York City? Then here’s a heads-up: The New York City Council has overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law that would bar most city employers from using credit checks as part of their hiring process.

Are we liable for negligent hiring if employee had criminal conviction?

Q. Recently, one of my employees accidentally injured a client while operating a forklift during work hours. The client is now threatening to sue me for negligent hiring of this employee, because the employee has a prior—and unrelated—conviction. Does this accusation have legal grounds?

Internal thefts: OK to redo background checks?


As this case shows, running new background checks on your current staff is not, by itself, a discriminatory act. Just make sure you set clear standards on how you will react to the results.

Worker's immigration status won't let employer off hook

A California appeals court has ordered a new trial for a worker who may have lost a lawsuit because the jury learned that he was an illegal immigrant.

Cracking down on internal theft problem? Be sure to handle criminal checks properly

Has your workplace experienced an increase in theft? If so, you’re probably exploring loss-prevention measures. While you assess your options, make sure you don’t crack down on employees in ways that will land you in court.

Court slams EEOC on background checks

EEOC efforts to crack down on employers’ use of credit and criminal checks suffered a serious setback on Feb. 20 when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that exonerated an employer of illegally running discriminatory background checks on job applicants.
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