Background Checks: Beneficial When Used Correctly

Pre-employment background checks provide recruiters and employers with a wealth of information about a potential new hire. While much of this information can and should be used in your hiring decisions, there are areas in which care should be taken.

Criminal Convictions

Criminal convictions are problematic for employers for many reasons. If you hire an employee with a violent past, you could be held liable if they harm another employee or client while on the job. However, the laws don’t allow blanket no-hires based on criminal convictions.

If you run a pre-employment background check, you have to consider the crime, the length of time since the crime occurred and whether it has any bearing on the position for which the person applied. Additionally, you have to give the potential hire a chance to explain the crime/conviction and any additional information before you can completely disqualify him or her from being suitable for the position.

While all of this seems fairly cut and dry, there is another consideration that is thrown into the laws – equal opportunity employment. If you are completing background checks on multiple people for the same position, you have to ensure that you subject each one to the same screenings prior to making your decision.

EEOC and Background Checks

There have been lawsuits filed against corporations due to their use of background checks. In many cases, this is due to the race of the people involved. According to the EEOC, employers must take care that their criminal conviction policies don’t exclude African Americans unfairly. The reason for this additional consideration there are more African American men convicted and imprisoned than white men, and blanket exclusions can be seen as discriminatory in certain instances.

Even though there are several aspects of background checks that require careful consideration, they are an important part of safe hiring practices. Knowing whether you are considering hiring someone who just got out of prison for rape or assault can go a long way in protecting your organization and your customers. As long as you ensure that the conviction on which you are basing your decision is relevant to the position, you are within your rights to exclude someone from employment if the crime was recent, and you’ve given them a chance to discuss the situation with you.