Background Checks Can Put Employers at Risk

Background checks used to be a routine part of the hiring process. Still, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has changed several regulations that have put the viability of screening in question. The EEOC challenges the use of background checks for employment screening, leading to complications for hiring managers. According to Baker Hostetler, the EEOC’s stance is a credit check and criminal background checks can put employers at risk and lead to unfair hiring decisions regarding minorities and people with prior criminal convictions.

The agency believes employers should make individual inquiries into an applicant’s history. These inquiries should account for the amount of time that has passed since a conviction and the type of conviction. Additionally, the use of credit checks in hiring decisions can be considered an act of discrimination, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Many large employers have come under fire from the EEOC for discriminatory hiring practices. Although courts have ruled in favor of these companies, the EEOC continues to enforce its policies. Criminal history checks and credit screens for potential employees have been part of the hiring process for a long time. Employers have an incentive to avoid hiring applicants who have a tarnished history and reputation. For example, stealing from companies, engaging in workplace violence, or having a tendency to be unreliable. The EEOC believes that African American candidates can be at disadvantage when criminal record checks are part of  hiring. This belief is due to African Americans having higher incarceration rates than Caucasians, putting these candidates at that disadvantage.

How to avoid risk with background checks

In many cases, background checks are out of date. Out of date checks can mistakenly cause applicants who have never been charged with a crime unfairly and denied a job, The New York Times reported. There is a federal law requiring employers to make sure forms are accurate to open the door for new risks. The use of the Federal Bureau of Investigation checks was once limited to government workers. Still, it has expanded to cover school, daycare and health care employees, truck drivers, landscapers, and cooks who have access to government buildings. Although FBI background checks were once considered the standard for hiring screening, there are many flaws.

With changing regulations surrounding background checks, employers can benefit from human resource support services to comply with new hiring policies. If companies aren’t following EEOC procedures, they can place themselves at risk of an employment lawsuit.

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