Lately, there has been quite a bit of discourse on the topic of background screening in the news. Between the EEOC suing Dollar General and BMW over their alleged discriminatory screening practices, the Philadelphia building collapse in June,and the Snowden/NSA information leaking case, there’s certainly plenty to discuss. But what exactly is a background check?
The rising popularity of background checks has given rise to new trends for vetting new hires and employees by organizations across the U.S.The growth of background checks also permeates other areas such as screening of volunteers, contractors, business partners, board members, housing tenants and even purchasers of guns. Here’s a list of the latest 10 ten trends for 2013 complied by First Contact HR.
Center City, Philadelphia was faced with a tragic event Wednesday, June 5 when a building came crumbling down onto an adjacent building on 22nd and Market Streets. A total of six lives were lost and 13 people injured as rescue crews excavated bodies and survivors from the rubble.
A two-story wall of a building being demolished came down around 10:30am EST onto a neighboring Salvation Army thrift store below. The loss of life in this demolition accident is tragic, and now people are asking the questions: why and how did this happen?
Your new potential hire has just left your office following a final interview. You feel great about their attitude and they appear to have the pedigree of a top candidate. They have all the signs for success: a resume full of great experience, stories about converting tough clients, and the charisma/charm and character you’ve only ever read about in hiring books.
The Association’s guidance is targeted to all employers that utilize employment background checks to vet employees for job opportunities. Company roles in human resources, legal compliance, risk management, finance and general management should review the full press release.
In this day and age, companies are becoming increasingly concerned with their financial well-being and corporate responsibility. For most of them, this means ensuring employee safety and candor in the work place.
Background screening companies like First Contact HR are here to keep company work environments safe by mitigating risky hires, while also remaining legally compliant. Providing background checks means background screening companies must have a high standard for legal integrity to help their clients make the best hiring decisions.
There has been a surge in legislation across the U.S. with the goal of curtailing employer use of criminal records that bar employment opportunities for ex-offenders. Take for example the new EEOC guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records and the proliferation of “ban-the-box” laws.
With the enactment of the 2010 Massachusetts Criminal Offender Records Information (CORI) Reform bill, employers face a wave of changes in their use and access to criminal records.
On April 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new Enforcement Guidance on use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions.
As a result, the new EEOC Enforcement Guidance aims to prohibit employers from using “blanket prohibitions” against hiring anyone with any kind of a criminal records, no matter how old the conviction and no matter what the prior offense may have been. When making employment decisions based on conviction records, employers should take a three (3) factor approach:
- The nature or gravity of the offense or conduct;
- The time elapsed since the offense, conviction; and/or completion of the sentence; and
- The nature of the job sought or held.
More specifically, the Enforcement Guidance provides two circumstances in which an employer’s criminal conviction policy will “consistently meet” Title VII’s “job-related” and consistent with business necessity” defense. According to the EEOC, these circumstances include:
- employers who are able to validate their use of background screening policies and practices as a business necessity will meet the defense, or;
- develop a targeted, three (3) factor screening approach (as outlined above), and provide subjects with criminal records an opportunity for an “individualized assessment.”
Other defenses for employers to consider involve compliance with federal or state laws that are specific to their business. For instance, the FDIC Act requires banks to conduct criminal background checks on applicants and restricts their ability to hire individuals with certain conviction histories. Under these circumstances, this would be valid defense for claim of discrimination brought by an applicant or employee under title VII.
With the new EEOC Enforcement Guidance in place, here are some best practice tips and action steps for employers to consider:
Best Practice tips for employers:
- Eliminate policies and practices that impose blanket prohibitions to employment based on any conviction;
- Do not request arrest records from applicants;
- Educate and train hiring managers and decision-makers about appropriate use of conviction history in hiring and promotion, and separation;
- Revise screening procedures to ensure that they are job related and consistent with business necessity;
- Do not ask applicants for disclosure of convictions that are not job related and consistent with business necessity, and;
- Keep information about applicants’ and employees’ conviction history confidential.
Employer Action Steps:
- Review background screening policies and practices in light of the new guidance, and;
- Make adjustments needed to the extent practices cannot be justified as job related and consistent with business necessity, and;
- Recruiters and job interviewers must be trained in connection with the EEOC’s Guidance in order to be credible witnesses in any challenge the employer’s hiring, promotion, or separation decision-making.
Over the past five years, the hit rate for criminal background checks has been on the decline as more nonprofit organizations background check their new hires. A recent study’s, data showed that from 2007 to 2011, more than 5.4 million background checks we conducted by nonprofits and 22 percent of those checks resulted in criminal hits.
Of that 22 percent (approximately 479,000), background checks revealed very serious kidnapping, murder, sex-related and drug-related offenses. While it is shocking to know that criminals who have been convicted of kidnapping or molestation could be working amongst children, elders and people in need, we know that criminals go where they know they can get in “under the radar” – organizations [they know] do not conduct background checks.
In organizations working with children, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, background checks are a must; the study found that 1,021 of the criminal hits were registered sex offenders, 603 convictions for kidnapping and 1,176 murder offenses.
What’s more is that between 2007 and 2011, 22 percent of those criminal hits also included 91,607 drug-related offenses including possession and distribution and 10,438 sex-related offenses. These figures are certainly eye-opening, but the good news is that these were hits, and thus these individuals were barred from employment at the nonprofits where they applied to work. Additionally, the number of criminals has declined over the past five years by 7 percent, according to the study.
The drop in criminal hits is attributed by the nonprofits’ use of background screening programs. When criminals know that nonprofits are conducting background checks, they seek employment somewhere else, so it is important for nonprofits to speak with background screening providers in order to mitigate risk, protect their reputations and those they seek to help.
After celebrity chef Paula Deen refused to pay a former restaurant worker to keep quiet, Lisa Jackson has decided to file a lawsuit against Paula Deen for allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Paula Deen co-owns the restaurant, Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah, Ga. with her brother, Bubba Hiers.
Deen is under fire for allegedly sexually harassing and inflicting assault and emotional distress on her employees, using the N-word and creating a hostile working environment. The lawsuit comes after a recent wave of criticism following Deen’s public coming out with her having Type 2 Diabetes.
In one incident, Jackson alleges that Hiers requested that she bring to work pornographic pictures of herself. In her lawsuit, Jackson claims Hiers viewed Internet pornography at the restaurant, drank on the job, made sexually charged comments to her and other staff members, kissed her and spat at her. Jackson, further alleges that both Deen and Hiers frequently made racist comments and used the N-word.
Jackson is seeking unspecified damages.
Photo: AP photo