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April 27, 2016

Background Checks – Is Your Policy Lawful?

When considering what background checks you will require of new employees, make certain they are legal. The specific types of checks must be relevant to position. While this is not yet set in stone, the EEOC calls this “best practices” if you want to steer clear of EEOC audits.

The greatest pitfall is having a blanket policy automatically prohibiting your company from hiring an individual convicted of any offense at any time. Saying “felons need not apply” is certainly a blanket statement.

EEOC Guidelines tells employers to consider the following factors when determining whether the exclusion is job-related:

  • The type and severity of the offense
  • The nature of the job and how a specific type of offense might negatively affect the position
  • The time elapsed since the conviction or the completion of the sentence. In many cases, federal guidelines are 7 years.

Best Practices suggests individual case-by-case assessments be conducted to determine how a particular conviction might relate to the job. If you cannot positively defend it, use caution.