In the past, employers often had guidelines such as “If an applicant has any type of criminal record, they are not eligible for hire.” Numerous states and cities have passed legislation that prohibits employers from disqualifying applicants who have any type of conviction. These laws are part of a “Second Chance Movement” that is growing throughout the nation.
While you have the right to refuse employment to an applicant who is not qualified or poses a risk, it is essential to avoid blanket policies that automatically exclude certain people. Doing so is a discriminatory practice that could warrant a lawsuit. If a candidate meets your requirements but has a conviction, then best practice is to run an individualized assessment in which you consider the seriousness of an offense, how long ago it occurred, whether or not it has any bearing on the position and other relevant factors.
The goal is to ensure each person is considered on their own merits and not denied employment based on preconceived notions.
Rely On Public Records Websites
There are many public records sites that offer background checks. It is imperative, however, to avoid reports from any business that is not a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA). A CRA can legally provide a background check that employers may use to make informed business decisions.
Public records sites are not FCRA compliant so they can contain outdated, incorrect and incomplete data. Before you order a report, make sure the site specifies that the business is a CRA that adheres to the FCRA. To play it safe, verify the CRA is accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA).
Run Your Own Searches
It may seem like a quick and easy solution – but running your own searches on candidates could create serious problems. When you do your own investigation, it can be difficult to confirm that the information you see is for the right person. Reviewing the correct profile for a candidate or employee can still put your business at risk.
You can learn a lot about a person from their social media accounts. An individual’s page or profile is likely to contain information about their personal lives and interests, including religion, origin and sexual preferences. Even if you find something that could legitimately warrant an adverse action, the individual could make the case you discriminated against them based on a protected factor you saw online. If so, you could be subjected to a discrimination-based lawsuit.
Social media searches should be handled by an accredited CRA. Doing so helps ensure you get results that only contain reportable information you can use in the decision making process. Examples include hate speech, violence and illegal activities.