As employers grow more vigilant regarding maintaining safe work environments, safeguarding intellectual copyrights, and protecting company assets, criminal background checks have become much more mainstream. In this article, we will briefly review the rationale associated with employment screening as well as how it might be applied in the work environment.
What is a criminal background check
Employment screening occurs when an employer or their designee evaluates an applicant or employee’s criminal, employment, and/or financial background, in some cases requiring a drug test, prior to making hiring decisions. In fact, with an estimated 90% of companies conducting, background checks, whether you are hired or promoted for a position could hinge on the results of an employment screen.
Two reasons employers conduct background checks
• To uncover embellishments or untruths used to misrepresent the applicant’s credentials, abilities, or work experience on their resume.
• To mitigate risk and prevent subsequent liability resulting from poor hiring decisions.
What personal information is accessed during employment screenings
Aside from employment records, the types of data included in a comprehensive background check are normally accessible via public records including, but not limited to, driving records, vehicle registration, credit records, criminal records, education records, court records, and bankruptcy, and sex offenders lists. Additionally, social networking is now mainstream with employers regularly accessing Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter feeds as a new employment screening alternative.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act” (FCRA) prohibits certain information included in background checks as long as it is conducted by consumer reporting agencies; however, the law does not apply to employer’s that personally execute their own backgrounds screens. Information prohibited includes bankruptcies after 10 years; civil suits, civil judgments, and records of arrest (from date of entry) after seven years; paid tax liens after seven years; and any other negative information (with the exception of criminal convictions) after seven years.
However, on April 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission introduced guidelines to clarify how employers can use criminal background checks because of their potential to be biased against racial minorities, calling for careful consideration of how and when such reviews can be used in pre-employment screenings and in the workplace. For instance, the new guidance clarifies and updates the EEOC’s policy concerning the use of both arrest and conviction records when making employment decisions. For more information regarding these changes, please visit the EEOC website.