Pre-employment backgrounds are necessary in many industries today. Once upon a time, background checks were limited to specific industries such as banking and finance or industries that deal with national defense or require security clearance. Today, however, background checks cover so much more than criminal backgrounds.
Who Can You Trust to Conduct Pre-Employment Screenings
Before you dive in and start ordering background checks far and wide, you first need to learn the law regarding how this information can be used, and look for an agency you can trust to use this information properly.
There are two federal laws designed to protect job applicants who hold criminal records.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act obligates employers requesting criminal background checks to do the following.
• Get written consent from applicant before conducting the check.
• Inform the applicant if the information discovered was used to eliminate the candidate from consideration.
• If this is the case, employers must also provide applicants with a copy of the report.
The FCRA further requires agencies who conduct pre-employment background checks to take every reasonable step to ensure the information obtained is up-to-date and accurate.
Title VII: Discrimination Based on Criminal Records
The second federal law was passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Because a disproportionate number of arrests and incarcerations occur among African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities, employers who have blanket policies excluding candidates with criminal records from consideration may be guilty of racial discrimination.
Employers can avoid this by taking into account other factors such as:
• The nature of the crime
• Time of the offense (How long ago did the crime and/or arrest take place?)
• Relevance of crime to job
• Amount of supervision employee will have
In other words, treat each situation individually and explore mitigating circumstances before making hiring decisions based on these results. Law enforcement officers who conduct background checks understand, more than most, that some people really do make the most of their second chances.
The state of Indiana and many other states have additional requirements when it comes to pre-employment screening in the form of background checks. In the state of Indiana, employers cannot ask applicants if they have criminal records that were sealed or restricted.
Other Types of Pre-Employment Screenings
In addition to background checks, which can be critical in identifying candidates who have histories of financial crimes, there are several other types of pre-employment screenings that must be entrusted to someone who will treat the information with the professionalism and discretion that screenings of this nature demand.
• Credit checks (Make sure you follow the law when it comes to the use of credit information just as with criminal information.)
• Security clearance checks
• Drug tests
• Past employment investigations
• Driving records
• Sex offender status or registry (Some states require this for people who work with children or in certain care positions.)
Because the information is so sensitive, it’s always wise to be cautious when choosing firms that provide you with this information about potential employees. Law enforcement officers are an excellent choice because of their well-practiced investigation skills as well as their commitments to the communities they serve and the businesses within that community.
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