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Criminal History Reports in the News 

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February 16, 2018 Return to News & Events

Criminal History Reports in the News

Across the country the fair, legal, and lawful use of criminal history reports remain in the news. Seemingly each month presents another example of a state or city enacting a new law governing the use of criminal history reports and how they are utilized as part of pre-employment background screening.

In 2012 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released new guidance on the lawful use of criminal history reports as part of background screening. And, during this same period of time, so-called “ban-the-box” legislation has spread across the country.

The actions of the EEOC as well as the changes in legislation regarding ban-the-box have created confusion with employers over the actual fair, legal, and lawful use of criminal history reports.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: “Every time a city or state enacts any form of legislation governing background screening employers must take notice. The actions of the EEOC and the enforcement of ban-the-box policy could be detrimental to an employer should they fall out of compliance.”

Recently in Washington, Idaho, and Missouri, legislators have either enacted new laws or are attempting to engage new laws governing the use of criminal history reports.

In the state of Washington the question of Criminal History has been put to a vote and the state House of Representatives passed a measure restricting the use of the criminal history question.

From The Chronicle; (Jan. 08, 18):

A bill prohibiting the criminal history question on job applications passed the Washington state House of Representatives with a 52-46 vote.

HB 1298 was passed with votes along party lines on Feb. 7 with Republicans largely against it. (1)

Almeida adds: “Removing the question of criminal history is designed to improve the chances of employment within various protected classes. Studies suggest that to alleviate the challenges of recidivism gainful employment is an obvious and important step.”

In the state of Idaho the question of criminal history has come up and some legislators are looking to take action.

From (Feb 12, 18):

About 95 percent of people in prison will re-enter society at some point.

“These people who have or will enter their communities need gainful employment to build stability and to find success after incarceration,” Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, told the Legislature’s Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee on Monday.

For most ex-offenders, the first step to rebuilding their lives is getting a job, which means filling out employment applications. (2)

Finally, in Kansas City, Missouri, City Council took action regarding criminal history and removing the box on all applications.

From a SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) article discussing changes to Kansas City governance (Feb 12, 18):

Under the new ordinance, employers may not inquire about an applicant's criminal history until after it has been determined that the individual is otherwise qualified for the position and only after the applicant has been interviewed for the position. The inquiry may then be made of all applicants who are "within the final selection pool of candidates." The ordinance, however, is not just about employment application content or criminal record inquiries. Like recent laws in other jurisdictions, the ordinance also limits employers' substantive hiring decisions. Paralleling the EEOC's guidance, the ordinance requires an employer basing a hiring or promotion decision on an applicant's criminal history to be able to demonstrate that the decision was based on "all available information" including consideration of the frequency, recentness and severity of a criminal record. (3)

Almeida sums this recent activity up and states: “Whenever there is substantive policy change or change in law all hiring managers and HR departments should take notice. A best practice would be to work with a well-qualified third-party background screening agency in order to maintain compliance with all existing law and prepare for changing law.” is a third-party background screening company with highly trained operators well versed in the needs and requirements of companies and organizations large and small utilizing public records, such as criminal records, as part of a hiring process. Assisting companies in maintaining full compliance under the law is a central tenet of all client relationships with



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