Copy Machines a Threat to YOUR Identity…be forewarned

View this URL with the following video clip – this will give you chills up and down your spine!

http://www.wimp.com/copymachines/

If you do business with ANY entity which leases or purchases these advanced copier machines, ask them if they use the machines to copy any information that is private to you?

  • Medical or Health Provider offices (including hospitals!)
  • Human Resources offices with payroll information or Benefits information
  • Government offices which processes business or private information

If they do – forward this information to them – for awareness!

You can be doing all you can to keep your identity private, but once these machines get into the hands of folks who know how to download the (free) software to read the documents in the hard drive’s memory, they will have access to thousands upon thousands of documents with all types of your private information on them!


Social Media Site Got Her Fired – Fair or Unfair?

I’m still in shock reading about this story in a recent “Dear Abby” column.  A candidate for a position was hired, but on her first day of work was called into the Human Resources office to be ‘let go.’  The reason noted was because of photos that were on her website from her job as a model for a local department store; which were posted right next to photos of her children and family.  According to the article, the photos were not revealing or provocative, but skin was showing.  An internal employee in the company had applied for the same position, Googled the new hire, and complained to the Human Resources department.

Let’s Play Devils Advocate:

Human Resources: Did anyone in the hiring department Google the candidate before or after the interview and before the hiring decision was made?  Did the interviewer think to ask if the candidate’s modeling job entailed showing flesh? If not, bad on you.  Do you have a written company policy that is in an employee handbook or policy guide noting the new hire that any web photos that might ‘embarrass’ the company should be immediately pulled and any found after hire might evolve into termination?  Probably not.

The company and hiring professionals went through the entire hiring process, and this should have involved a background check – including social media sites.  This stinks of sloppy hiring processes and procedures, as well as sloppy background and investigative steps.  Does your application form ask if the candidates have social media sites with materials, graphics, or photos that might be inappropriate to the nature and branding of the company for which they’ve applied for a position?  Then if not, you have NOT played fair in the game.

Whether this candidate was currently working at another job or not, you OWE them compensation for your bungling (and this is assuming that the company failed to get proper investigation and background check done in a reasonable time period AND notify the applicants this investigation would be completed before they could start work).  If the candidate quit another job (especially in this economy), and now has no second option for employment waiting outside this job, you owe them compensation worth at least two weeks pay in lieu of notice – even if she didn’t get a chance to show her professional capabilities.

The shame on the company is they fired the new hire before they gave her an opportunity to delete or privatize the photos on her social media site.  It still wouldn’t do much good, if she had posed as a model for photos published in the local store’s catalogs or advertising, they are still ‘out there’ in the universe – whether on the Internet or pinned onto some teen boy’s bedroom wall.  What the HR department did was a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction.  I hope the company will re-think what they did for future hires and set up a policy, as well as invest in proper hiring procedures before they make this mistake again.  Perhaps an application form section which asks candidates what social media sites to which they belong?  (Hey Lawyers:  Is this legal to ask?)

Yes – most states have an ‘at will’ capability for hiring and firing, and this article noted it was in the ‘south’ but didn’t name the state.  If the company was unionized, the result may have been a different story.

Another question – when and where did the squealer find this information?  Was it on her home computer or was she ‘cruising’ the Internet for fun and profit at work?  Check their Internet browser history on the computer.  If this employee found this information at work, why hasn’t your IT team blocked every employee’s access to Facebook, MySpace, and the ‘social’ media sites to ensure that real work is being accomplished at work on the company’s payroll?

Internal Employee: You were not chosen as the candidate to fill the position so you are using underhanded, unethical means to get rid of your competition.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  Did you get the position you craved or did they go out to seek another candidate more qualified than you because you are still NOT qualified enough?  Now that everyone knows you are a snitch – your honesty, integrity, and business ethics will be questioned as long as you work in that company.  No one will trust you to be on their side or want to deal with you as long as they know you’ll squeal on every little thing – even if has nothing to do with work.  What we don’t know is if you squealed on the new candidate to get her job or because you were second on list.

It would have been more appropriate, if you were determined to tattle on the new hire, to tell the Human Resources department they should speak with the new hire about privatizing their website versus telling them how offended you were.  What were you doing – spying on the new hire – anyway?  It does take a little effort to search through all those photo albums!  This was not a simple – “whoops, I stumbled across these photos and they are so offensive to me” – act of innocence.  This was a track her down and find something dirty or nasty to tattle on the new hire to get her out of your way.

Job Candidate: Are you nuts?  Get those photos that reveal more than your arms and legs into ‘privacy’ setting on your Social Media sites – yesterday!  If you don’t know how to do it – then get a Social Media Manager to do it for you.  This is a libelous, competition rich world out there, and if you give them any reason to question your background, ethics, integrity, and business professionalism, companies will use that one thing to drop you being considered for any position.  You won’t even know that they were considering you because they saw your social site, didn’t like what they saw, then moved on to the next candidate.

Unfortunately, this may be water under the bridge, BUT I would still get an employment lawyer to contact the company and ask for two weeks pay in lieu of notice or some type of compensation for the embarrassment, the sloppy way they hired and then fired you, and possible compensation for pain and suffering – now you have to start the employment and career search all over again!

For those of you who might be in the same situation, go to www.pipl.com and search for yourself.  You might be very surprised at what you find is ‘out there’ with your name on it.

Dawn Boyer is a doctoral student at Old Dominion University in the Darden College of Education, working on a PhD in Occupational Studies and Technology) focusing on Training and Development in Human Resources, as well as working as a (Doctoral) Graduate Teaching Assistant teaching computer science and technology classes to undergraduate students.

Ms. Boyer has over 20 years of senior management experience in human resources, of which nine years is in the defense-contracting arena. She also provides HR consulting via D. Boyer Consulting to entrepreneurs and small businesses, including growing 8(a) defense companies in the Hampton Roads, VA area. She also provides LinkedIn and Resume Writing classes to individuals and groups.

she accepts LinkedIn invites via: Dawn.Boyer@me.com; http://www.linkedin.com/in/DawnBoyer; Join her 4,600+ connections!

Follow her on Twitter: @Dawn_Boyer.

Read her blogs at http://DawnBoyer.wordpress.com and http://www.bloglines.com/blog/DawnBoyer

Sexual Predators – Unique Question

Sexual Predators – Unique Question

Strange question – don’t scream about the question or bringing it to a discussion forum. It seems there’s a bias created by your average citizen dumping all ‘sexual predators’ into one bucket.  I was reading Newsweek Magazine, (Aug. 3, 2009) – “A Bridge Too Far” about sexual predators living under a bridge because they aren’t able to find a place to live within a community.  We live in a NIMBY (not in my back yard society), and it not only affects where we live, but where we work.

True sexual predators are scary individuals, and should be separated from society if they are continuing to commit crimes or psychiatrists are absolutely sure they will commit another crime.

While I have heard statistics claiming sexual predators have a 80 – 90% recidivism rate, other research has identified significant differences in re-offense patterns from one category to another. Looking at reconviction rates alone, one large-scale analysis (Hanson and Bussiere, 1998)[i] reported the following differences:

  • child molesters had a 13% reconviction rate for sexual offenses and a 37% reconviction rate for new, non-sex offenses over a five year period; and
  • rapists had a 19% reconviction rate for sexual offenses and a 46% reconviction rate for new, non-sexual offenses over a five-year period.

Another study found reconviction rates for child molesters to be 20% and for rapists to be approximately 23% (Quinsey, Rice, and Harris, 1995).  Recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than for the general criminal population. For example, one study of 108,580 non-sex criminals released from prisons in 11 states in 1983 found…nearly 63% were rearrested for a non-sexual felony or serious misdemeanor within three years of their release from incarceration; 47% were reconvicted; and 41% were ultimately returned to prison or jail (Bureau of Justice Statistics).[ii]

But what about those who have committed crimes, but paid the price, and have decades of lawful behavior, or the crime was sex with a willing partner, although underage?   It seems ‘sexual predators’ should fall into four distinct categories (noted below). Wouldn’t it also be less punitive and be a better system for reporting, if these four types of sexual predator were labeled as such AND the # of years of ‘clean’ living?

  • SP1: The Romeo & Juliet couple (consensual); one is underage for state law for age of consent – but both are close in age – within two to three years; have been dating for more than three to six months; or both are under the age of 18) – those convicted of R&J crime, where even if the SP was only a few months or years older, the crime was from willing participants, and the state forced the conviction are labeled: SP1-15 (means R&J crime, 15 years ago) ; or people caught performing ‘sexting’ to their peers (underage kids at schools) or adults with provable ‘intent of harming’ the victim.  (This does not include incidences where the underage person reports the sex to a counselor, teacher, or other adult because they don’t wish to confront their predator.)  Any underage persons with this conviction should have their records expunged from the record upon reaching a majority.
  • SP2: The child pornography, peeping tom; used communications to try to entice or encourage an underage person to meet the predator (never touched; no physical contact; collects photos of children, but none are naked or in sexually explicit poses); those convicted, but never physically touched another person in the performance of the crime (labeled as: SP2-XX); or people caught performing ‘sexting’ to their peers (underage kids at schools) or adults with the ‘intent of harming’ the victim.
  • SP3: Physical sexual predation (has physically touched / harmed an underage child or committed rape; or collected other related souvenirs via mail, internet, or purchased from other sexual predators); those who have physically harmed or injured another (child or adult – labeled as SP3-V-XX [V standing for Violent]), or sustained the activity of the same (child porn). Even though they may have not physically touched a child, the person taking/selling the pictures has most likely harmed/touched that child inappropriately.  Those who have repeat offenses on the level of SP2 should now be moved to this new label/level.
  • SP4: Sexual predator has raped, criminally tortured, maimed, or killed another; using weapons and torture in the crime; resulting in death of the victim within ten years – either as an immediate result of the crime or by suicide of the victim as a result of the mental anguish traceable back to the crime and the perpetrator.  (Labeled SP4-V-XX-D[1] for murder during the crime or SP4-V-XX[10] noting victim died by their own hand a decade later.)  Those with repeat offenses on the level of SP3, are moved to this new label/level.

There really isn’t a black and white answer to the situation – it’s too many caveats and gray areas to consider/  While this methodology of labeling may be simplistic, it does provide an informative label that will tell the reviewers of the records instant identifying information, and if they wish to pursuer more details about the crime, they can then click on those links for more info.

Why Ask?

When recruiting, a sexual predator might be found in the system during a background check, but if convicted of SP1 and lived a clean life since, shouldn’t those who were convicted of Romeo and Juliet (hormonal) crimes be provided forgiveness, and still be considered for jobs.  They may be very qualified candidates, and will suffer for the rest of their lives for a mistake they made when young, naïve, and possibly stupidly in love.

In some states, their criminal record will have them listed as a sexual predator for the remainder of their lives.  They must register where they are living no matter where they move, or which state in which they are living.  Their neighbors might Google predators in their local or state police on-line sites and suddenly this ‘sexual predator’ has his/her neighbors looking at them with hate, possibly suffering vandalism, nasty notes, their cars get keyed, or their spouse or children become victims, also.

If you live in the state of Virginia, you can search for registered sex offenders near you by zip code: http://sex-offender.vsp.virginia.gov:80/sor/zipSearch.html This website is phenomenal because it lists their address, their crime, their status (parole, etc.), dates of conviction, etc.  What is interesting is I can’t find any evidence of any of the convicted sexual predators here on the list having been convicted of stalking, which may be considered a non-sexual crime (my viewpoint – they are too similar to distinguish apart).

But, some companies refuse to even consider these candidates.  Companies might refuse to consider any candidate with a SP conviction because to do so without distinction between the SP1 and all the others may provide them with a safety net against potential future liability.  There is no question that SP2-SP5’s should be rejected outright – especially if they potentially will be working with, for, or come in contact with children or with women if they have been convicted of child porn, indecent liberties, or using communications systems to contact minors, or even rape.  A school, a hospital or health care facility, or woman’s organization should be immune from any prosecution for failing to hire a convicted sexual predator.  Companies should be allowed to refuse to hire a person with this type of background and legally document it as ‘felony record may endanger current employee population.’

I’m sure any DOL or EEOC representative would have no issue with this documented decision if the company couldn’t find another more compelling reason to reject a candidate.  In our society, it is rather more comfortable for the rejecters to use an ambiguous or more work related reason (not enough qualifications or education) to reject the applicant versus being bluntly honest and telling them, “…can’t – your criminal record stinks…”  Or, write out the conviction, write an explanation in the box the size of your little pinky nail, and hope it won’t be noticed or the employer doesn’t care.

Or what about the companies who see the convictions, then decide it might be a method of getting cheaper labor at the advantage of the sexual predator.  Don’t think this doesn’t happen – it most likely does, where most sexual predators on the registry will do anything to get work, at any wages, to put food on the table and pay their bills.

Knowing someone has been convicted of a crime is one of the stages of information gathering in the  decision process – you weigh the pros and excuse the pun–cons.

Yet, those with the convictions are still crossing their fingers and not mentioning the conviction, hoping the company will accidently forget to run the background check process.  So what is the next best thing for these convicted criminals who are sexual predators to do?  Start their own businesses where they are the boss and there is no background check!  Which puts them right back into the arena where they might possibly have access to the same victims the sexual registry was trying to keep them apart from!


[i] Center for Sex Offender Management 
8403 Colesville Rd., Suite 720 
Silver Spring, MD 20910 
Phone: (301) 589-9383 
Fax: (301) 589-3505 
E-mail: Internet: www.csom.org

[ii] http://www.csom.org/pubs/mythsfacts.html