Factor in the USA PATRIOT Act | DCR Workforce Blog

Factor in the USA PATRIOT Act

Organizations need to ensure that the safety and security arrangements for workers – whether as permanent hires or temporary employees – need to be equally thorough and incorporate processes which are not significantly dissimilar in their approach, and some of them need to build in checks and balances laid out by the USA PATRIOT Act to prevent any terrorist from gaining surreptitious entry into their ranks. The Act has the avowed goal of intercepting and obstructing terrorism and provides great latitude to law-enforcing authorities to institute searches and undertake actions which would not have been possible prior to 9/11 as they encroach upon or violate the privacy of people. A suspect may be searched, monitored, detained for up to 7 days or deported if required.

When does a ‘Patriot’ search into a job aspirant’s past get initiated? What if the person is a contingent worker hired through a staffing company? These are some interesting questions which need to be explored further by all job aspirants as well as employers.

Lawful Entry and Compliance:

Noncitizens in the USA need to come through 3 basic immigration streams – as Lawful Permanent Residents, as refugees and asylum seekers and as non-immigrants who come over on visas grated for specific purposes and limited periods. When seeking work or authorization to work in the USA, one needs to be extremely careful about providing truthful information about oneself. One must be ready to meet all identity related queries through proper and valid documentation. Any discrepancy could ring enough warning bells to initiate a deeper background check.

  • Under the Patriot Act, a person should be in a position to prove his or her identity, using a valid form of identification – like a driver’s license or a state ID card – at all times.
  • The Social Security card is a must-have and its number committed to memory, even if the card is not kept handy to facilitate any verification of background details.
  • It is important to provide valid and verifiable information on identity, address, criminal record on all official forms.
  • Hesitation to share information with regard to one’s phone number, email or financial and medical records makes a person look suspicious.

The FBC Homeland Security Search has direct access to forty five National and International Terrorist and Fugitive Lists to help identify individuals linked to terrorism and learn about persons on the classified watch lists of various governments across the world under the categories of wanted individuals, terrorists, terrorist supporters, money launderers, drug traffickers.

Background Checks for Temps:

With any background check for contingent workers, it must be remembered that the person comes to work like every other employee in the company and works alongside them at the same facilities –for a specific but necessarily short duration. An employer needs to ensure the safety of everyone at work on the premises by eliminating the possibility of hiring someone who could cause problems – throwing in the rather far-fetched notion and possibility of the person being a terrorist on international watch lists.

A survey of changes in background check methods have established that today’s clients are seeking criminal background checks in federal and state courts, in the counties and states where a contingent worker had resided earlier – where they used to be satisfied with a search of court records. The extent and type of background checking instituted needs to be governed by the industry, job position and responsibilities assigned to a worker as well as any federal, state and local regulations. Along with all the required checks, an employer must ensure that the following processes are followed:

  • A diligent inquiry into the worker’s address, qualification and experience and a thorough background check are is the only answer.
  • Require staffing, janitorial, IT and other vendors to apply the same level of diligence when screening their candidates who gain access to the organizations premises, equipment, computers, and databases presenting the remotest possibility of any risk.
  • Any contract with such vendors needs to clearly specify the requirement for the standard of background checks to be in compliance with.
  • Where any work is assigned to contractors, they may be required to certify that workers involved in agency assignments are cleared through diligent background checks.
  • Bring uniformity to the background check process by having an a audit or verification process that ensures that a uniformity is maintained across the processes, whether in-house or with vendors.

Staffing firms today definitely do not want to gain a reputation for presenting an easy avenue to employment, without the kind of checks performed at other places and to attract unsavory applicants who bring calamity in their wake. These firms recognize the critical importance of effective background checks to ensure the safety and quality of their workers and either screen to client requirements or offer fully screened candidates.

Hazmat Endorsements: When a truck driver is seeking Hazmat Endorsement on a commercial driving license to gain the eligibility to transport hazardous material as cargo, the Patriot Act gets invoked and a security threat assessment gets initiated at a cost of $94 per head.

Financial Services: Anyone employed by a financial services entity comes under a very stringent verification process under the USA PATRIOT Act and the Sarbanes Oxley. This is required to eliminate the possibility of anyone having wherewithal to indulge in money-laundering activities to finance acts of terrorism.

Savvy employers ensure that they educate contingent workers on the security policies and procedures and the behavior expectations on the job. This approach establishes the required standards at the workplace and precludes the possibility of any transgressions and deviant behavior.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.