Criminal Background Check Policy

February 7, 2018

Here’s some behind-the-scenes discussion on the always-riveting topic of criminal background checks.

One of our publisher partners recently laid out some requirements stating that all stores who run certain types of events for them must conduct criminal background checks.  I definitely do not disagree with the underlying sentiment – conducting background checks on all our employees was something I investigated and rejected some years ago because I didn’t know how to do so effectively.  But, it is reasonable that we should know how to do more things now than we did then, and conducting background checks seems like it should be one of them.

So, yes, I agree with the underlying spirit of the the publisher’s requirements overall.  I do, however, disagree with the some specific elements which are alternately poorly drafted or abhorrent from a business-relationship sense, and I cannot agree to those elements*.  Because this publisher has chosen a “click to agree” online-only means of communication, I cannot strike out, redline, or add commentary to what I do and do not agree to.  Therefore, Dear Publisher:

A) I agree to click the “I Accept the Terms and Conditions” button.

B) I agree to the updated terms to the extent they are consistent with the Board Game Barrister, Ltd Criminal Background Check Policy outlined below.

Board Game Barrister, Ltd Criminal Background Check Policy
Board Game Barrister, Ltd requires a criminal check for all full-time and part-time employees upon hire once a conditional offer of employment has been extended by the hiring manager, and periodically from time to time during the term of employment as determined by Board Game Barrister, Ltd.

Although a disqualification is possible, in accordance with federal and state laws, a previous conviction does not automatically disqualify an applicant from consideration for employment. Depending on a variety of factors (for example, the nature of the position, the nature of the conviction, age of the candidate when the illegal activity occurred), the candidate may still be eligible for employment.

However, if an applicant attempts to withhold information or falsify information pertaining to previous convictions, the employee will be disqualified from further employment consideration in any position with the Company due to falsification of an application.

An offer of employment may be extended to an applicant prior to the completion of the criminal conviction check. However, the applicant’s first day of work in the position must not be prior to the satisfactory completion of the criminal conviction check.

How Background Checks Are Performed
Criminal checks will be performed using these checks from Universal Background Screening. In most cases, your manager will enter your information directly into the Universal Background website to prevent your personal information ever being written down. The equivalent paper Disclosure Form is available here.

Oasis Comprehensive Package – these are performed on everyone

  • Address to Criminal History (7 year)
  • Social Security Address/Alias Trace
  • OFAC Specially Designated Nationals
  • USA CriminalSearch and USA Offender

Additional checks for those who drive Company vehicles

  • Motor Vehicle Report

Background Check Descriptions

This public blog post is in no small part for this publisher’s benefit, outlining specifically what our background check process is.  If they consider our policy acceptable, great.  If they do not consider it acceptable, they can remove us from their program and we won’t run their events anymore.  Or, they can fix the drafting of their requirements such that we can agree to them without writing lengthy blog posts – I’ve told them previously what is egregious, and I’ll gladly do so again.  I’m not looking for a fight here, just wanting to get this right.

*These are the specific clauses that are problematic
Dear Publisher, if you’ve made it this far, thank you.  Here are where the problems lie:

A) “to the extent permitted by applicable law” needs to read “to some standard or the extent permitted by applicable law”.

B) “you will not employ” needs to be limited to apply only to events relevant to your products.  Otherwise, this broadens our relationship into one where you can dictate our employment decisions, and that is a very messy area.  I don’t disagree with your sentiment here, but this clause overreaches.

C) Once we get into background-check-land, it should be implicitly understood that “Staff” as defined elsewhere becomes limited to “employees” for the purposes of background checks.  While I’d prefer that this limitation was explicit, I’ll accept it occurring through the “extent permitted by applicable law” provision insofar as that we do not have standing under the FCRA to request the underlying information required for the background check unless the person being checked is an employee or applying for employment.

Gordon L.

Gordon, a.k.a. "the" Barrister, or simply "G", opened the first Board Game Barrister store in 2005 in a fit of delusion: that he could both finish up law school and start a retail business - one has worked out, the other less so. Gordon loves working in the toy industry, which is filled with wonderful people who love what they do; he loves working with his fellow Barristers; and he loves the community of people that has grown around the playing of games together at the Board Game Barrister stores. If Gordon were a Dungeons & Dragons character, he would be a lawful goody-two-shoes silicon wizard with a skills in perl and complex compound sentences. Gordon loves many games, but when forced to choose he went with China, Power Grid, Lost Cities, and Empire Builder.

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