New Federal Rules Set on Background Checks; Is Your Company Legal?

Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Employee Background Checks [ 3 Comments ]

federal rules on background checkIf you actively use criminal background checks to screen potential employees and use convictions as reason not to hire someone, you’ll want to be aware of the latest employee background check rules put into place by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last month.

What’s Changed for Employers?
The new rules call for careful consideration of how and when you use criminal background checks in pre-employment screenings, since there could be potential bias against certain groups like racial minorities. According to the EEOC, racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to get caught up in the legal system, and using arrest records and convictions to deny job offers impacts minority job seekers disproportionately. As you already know, under EEO law, you’re prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, and national origin in any terms of employment.

The EEOC isn’t prohibiting you from using criminal background screenings entirely when considering someone for a position, but rather calling on you to use criminal information only when necessary for job-related reasons. To date, legal consultants have suggested you consider the nature of the crime, the nature of the job, and the time that has gone by since the incident or crime occurred. Now, this advice is principle. The rules also remind you that arrests are not proof of criminal conduct, and should not be used to exclude a job candidate from being in the running.

Hiring discrimination charges have gone up because the use of criminal background checks has gone up. The Society of Human Resource Management reports that about 73% of employers use criminal background checks on all employees, whether or not they’re working with sensitive populations like children or are privy to confidential information or handling money. Technology has made it easier for you to dig up dirt on anyone and everyone. With labor pools filled to the brim post-recession, any blip on an applicant’s history makes it easier for a hiring manager to weed them out.

What’s Changed for Job Seekers?
So what does this mean if you’re a job seeker with a criminal past?

If you’ve ever been convicted of a crime or have gotten in legal trouble, enough so that it has negatively impacted your job search and prohibited you from landing a job, you’ll be relieved to hear that these new rules may help you find work. They clarify and update the policy on how employers can use your arrest and conviction records when considering you for employment.

Understand that employers aren’t banned entirely from using arrest or conviction records when considering you for a job, but they are advised and guided to ensure that your employment opportunities aren’t denied outright because of activity in your past.

Photo source:

So what does this mean if you’re a job seeker with a criminal past?

3 thoughts on “New Federal Rules Set on Background Checks; Is Your Company Legal?

  1. avatarDave Jordan

    I still get all kinds of complaints from people who have been screwed out of a job because of a misdemeanor they committed years ago. Thing is, most consumers have no idea about the new EEOC guidelines, and more than likely many employers don’t have a clue either. Either way, it’s going to take some time for the new guidelines to become mainstream.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>