Background Checks: Four Really Critical Facts Employers Need to Remember

Background checks are an effective screening measure for employers who want to protect their liability, assets, and reputation. In an era where employee theft amounts to billions of dollars lost each year, employers can’t afford ignorance.

While the background check are an effective resource for alerting employers to potential problems in an employer’s history, this same tool can also be a liability to employers if used in a way that violates accepted business practices or legal policy.

  1. You must keep records for one year. This includes those applicants that you decided not to hire. You want to prove that your background check policies and the decisions that come from those policies are consistent, relevant, and documented.
  2. You can be held liable if your background check policies adversely target one group. BMW found this out in a $1.6 million lawsuit (Equal Opportunity Commission v. BMW Manufacturing Company, LLC)  in which background checks completed on returning applicants. As a result of the policy, over 80% African-American applicants were unable to get hired. The court ruled against BMW argued that the policy negatively targeted one group.
  3. State and federal laws on background checks can vary. While state and federal laws on background checks often work together, they may actually disagree. This happened in Ohio where a public school system’s policy of eliminating all employees (regardless of their proximity to children) with a negative background check. In their complaint, the school system argued that they complied with state law. A higher court disagreed.
  4. You can (and probably should) run background checks more than once. Most employers focus on the initial background check, but often neglect or skimp on later background checks on employees. This early snapshot can miss out on what can happen later, things that your organization could be held liable for later (such as DUI, theft, or assault charges).

Still have questions about background checks? Don’t hesitate to contact us

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