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Background Screening: Always In the News


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July 18, 2012 Return to News & Events

Background Screening: Always In the News

Background screening is often a necessary procedure in the hiring of paid and un-paid individuals working with groups, organizations, or companies large and small. Over the years the process of background screening has moved from the realm of pure leg work to a hybrid combination of databases and court researchers. And, yes, a significant part of background screening remains leg work. But without question background screening has changed from a behind the scenes pursuit to an activity more in the public eye.

Wikipedia describes background screening as:

A background check or background investigation is the process of looking up and compiling criminal records, commercial records and financial records (in certain instances such as employment screening) of an individual.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_check

Perhaps an overly simple definition, it is certainly clear and highlights areas of research that are often covered during the course of a background check. Key among these items is a criminal records search.

Recent guidelines by the EEOC (April 25, 2012) attempt to define and "guide" employers in regards to the fair, ethical, and legal manner criminal records are used. Since the release of the guidelines blogs from various background screening companies and individuals have exploded in support of the document or to challenge it.

In an on-line opinion article at WashingtonExaminer.com the following comment states:

In issuing this "guidance," the EEOC makes two leaps of faith. First, it assumes the criminal justice system's handling of violent and non-violent offenses is itself discriminatory -- even though there is no evidence of racial bias. Second, it discounts reams of well-established evidence regarding the recidivism of felons and the enormous liability faced by employers when their employees commit crimes. "Negligent hiring lawsuits" against employers are now commonplace whenever workplace violence or other work-related crime occurs.
http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/2012/06/eeocs-protection-felons-could-hurt-minority-hiring/687071

The writer highlights one of the more important points of conducting a background check, specifically a criminal history search in that workplace violence is a significant concern. HR Departments face the enormous task of vetting an individual for a position and as part of that process must protect the employers already on the job.

The EEOC guidelines have caught the eye of Congress as well. The article further notes:

On May 9, the House amended the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill to prohibit the EEOC from using any funds to enforce the guidance. A report issued by the Senate Appropriations Committee also criticized the guidance, noting that it "may limit the ability of conscientious employers to hire with confidence and create conflict with Federal and state laws."

Whether or not the EEOC has overstepped its authority in issuing these guidelines or if Congress will act with any temerity is unknown. Ultimately it may be months if not years before any clear guidelines are issued, ones that remain with the confines of current law and applicable to all on an equal basis. The use of criminal records in a pre-employment background check should be conducted in a black and white environment. The ability to misuse and misappropriate such information is obvious, but until the time when such clear and focused guidelines are made available and/or enforceable by a uniform code of law HR Departments remain on their own in terms of record use.

Fortunately HR Departments have the option of working with outside third-party information providers, companies that understand the laws that regulate the background screening industry as well as the legal practice in utilizing criminal records as part of a background screening process. One such company, CriminalBackgroundRecords.com, provides a sample list of "rejectionable" offenses that an HR department could use to automatically disqualify an individual from employment. The "Rejectionable" list is provided to all of the CriminalBackgroundRecords.com clients free of charge and is designed to be used as part of a HR Department hiring best practices. It is important to note that a Rejectionable offense list could vary from one industry or job type to another.

Until greater clarification or direction is provided to the background screening industry, background screening companies are bridging the gap by assisting HR Departments to stay informed with the latest best practice ideas. CriminalBackgroundRecords.com can assist in all the needs required by an HR Department with pre-employment background screening.

For more information on pre-employment background screening, EEOC Guidelines, or the CriminalBackgroundRecords.com "Rejectionable" List, contact bd@CriminalBackgroundRecords.com to get started.

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