EEOC Revises Employer Guidelines for Background Checks

In several instances on this blog, we’ve talked about background checks being used incorrectly or improperly. Criminal charges dug up from these assessments have been – illegally – used as blanket hiring measures, while the ramifications of identity theft, which cannot be purged immediately, essentially bar individuals, out of no fault of their own, from employment. Because employers are increasingly turning to background checks in the hiring process, the EEOC updated its policy this week.

Guidelines set by this organization have not been revised since 1990. As hiring, technology, and the job market have changed drastically over the past 20 years, revising recommended standards for employers is absolutely necessary not just for applicants but also for avoiding excessive lawsuits. Along the lines of more background checks conducted are greater instances of false or inaccurate information added to a report – from identity theft or simply a company’s poor investigation – or rejecting anyone with a criminal past, regardless of whether the crime is related to the job or not.

According to Associated Press, the updated guidelines specifically address hiring for individuals with criminal backgrounds. New specifications include allowing applicants to explain their past crime before rejection, to point out any inaccuracies, and to mention if a listed conviction has since been removed. Employers, on the same note, are recommended to no longer ask about convictions up front and to disregard arrests without convictions.

On the other hand, employers find the new recommendations burdensome. The screenings could possibly become more expensive and difficult, as applicants will have a chance to counteract false information. Sources in the Associated Press piece even think that these far more stringent guidelines will result in employers forfeiting background checks in the application process altogether.

Considering the drastic and life-altering errors background checks can produce, do you think these new guidelines for employers are necessary?


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