5 Ways to Avoid Trouble When Using Background Checks

While the rules of the road for employers that use criminal background checks in the hiring process remain uncertain, it’s clear that using past brushes with the law as a screening tool can incur the wrath of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, lawyers say. The EEOC has proven its willingness to go after employers on the theory that their use of prospective workers’ background information has an unlawful disparate impact on protected groups. Event services company Freeman, discount retail chain Dollar General Corp. and BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC are all currently embroiled in court battles with the anti-bias watchdog over criminal background checks, and the EEOC issued guidance in 2012 stating that using criminal history to make employment decisions could violate Title VII. While it’s clear that a blanket policy barring all applicants with past convictions from employment will put a company at a high risk of ending up in the EEOC’s crosshairs, management-side lawyers say there are many unresolved issues with respect to the use of criminal background checks in hiring and federal anti-discrimination law.

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Employers that look into prospective workers’ criminal backgrounds should be cautious and keep an eye out for rulings that may shed light on what they can and can’t do, according to attorneys, who point to five suggestions companies would be wise to consider:

  1. Be Aware of State, Local Law
  2. Have an Internal Panel Conduct Reviews
  3. Use an Employee Handbook to Articulate Values
  4. Educate and Train HR Personnel
  5. Keep Job Descriptions Accurate

Read more at http://www.law360.com/articles/546542/5-ways-to-avoid-trouble-when-using-background-checks. Note:  Some readers may need to register to view this article.

Under Georgia law, private individuals and businesses may request criminal history records by submitting the fingerprints of the person whose records are requested or a signed consent form with the person’s full name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth to the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC).  Georgia law allows employers to refuse employment to anyone with a conviction record.  If a Georgia employer decides not to hire an applicant based on a criminal record, the employer must disclose to the applicant all information in the record and explain how it affected the employer’s decision.

The attorneys at ELS have extensive knowledge on hiring practices and laws.  We work with employers during the hiring process to ensure compliance with local, state and federal laws. Contact us at info@theemploymentlawsolution.com for your business needs.