Strategy and Insights: How Should Employers Use Criminal History in Employment Now That The EEOC Has Issued Enforcement Guidance?

The federal government has approved new rules that might make it easier for convicted criminals and others in trouble with the law to find work, reports MSNBC.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) voted 4-1 to approve new rules for employers using criminal background screenings. Specifically, the rules concern the use of arrest and conviction records in employment because of their potential bias toward racial minorities. The hope is that workers with criminal histories will have a better chance of finding employment.

The impetus for the new rules was an EEOC suit against Pepsico’s Pepsi Beverages unit, which was sued for using arrest records and convictions to deny jobs. The suit charged the practice “impacted minority employees disproportionately.”

While the EEOC does not have the authority to ban the use of these records, it suggests the use of criminal background checks should be used only when “job related and necessary for business.” The hope is that employers will take a second look at how they conduct background screenings.

To assist employers, the EEOC offers these examples of best practices:

  • Develop policies and procedures for screening job candidates and employees for criminal behavior, including types of inquiries that are appropriate, essential job requirements of positions, and offenses that may indicate job unfitness.
  • Keep all information about criminal records confidential.
  • Eliminate policies or practices that exclude people from employment based on criminal records.
  • Properly train anyone involved in hiring or supervising employees about the laws governing employment discrimination.

As the MSNBC article reports:
Once upon a time, employers only used such background reviews for workers who were in sensitive positions where they handled money or worked with children. Today, their use has become widespread no matter what the gig. About 73 percent of employers use criminal background checks on all employees, according to the most recent data from the Society of Human Resource Management.

Employers realize the importance of keeping their workplace safe. That means conducting complete criminal background screenings on your employees. That’s where we can help.

Sometimes it’s tough to know what type of background check you should conduct on new or current employees. Contact us and we’ll help you determine what information you need to make the right hiring decision.

For more information about best practices and to review a copy of the new published guidelines, click here.

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