Encountering Job-Related Criminal Charges

If you’re a human resources representative hiring a new employee, you’ve probably interviewed many candidates through a multi-part interview process and, after narrowing down the application pool, found a few candidates that could do the position well. So, you conduct background checks on all of these candidates to see if their history indeed matches what’s on their resume and said in the interview. So, once all of the information from each investigation returns, you examine it to find that a few candidates have criminal backgrounds. At this point, what should you do in the hiring process? Do you simply not hire a person because of past crimes?

In some states, refusing to hire any criminals is considered blanket discrimination for most positions. This was the background for the hiring practices of the Colorado Department of Transportation, as detailed in a recent article. In fact, as claimed in the article, CDOT doesn’t conduct any background checks on their candidates because of a state law that prohibits denying a criminal from a job. Nevertheless, does this law mean that you’re not obligated to run background checks?

The article mentions an employee, a state highway worker, of CDOT conducting a diesel fuel theft ring who had been arrested previously for similar charges, as well as also being involved in a drug trafficking ring. This employee stole $200,000 worth of fuel on the job. If a background check had been run on this individual when he was a job candidate, CDOT would have noticed his past crimes pertain directly to the job at hand.

So, where do you draw the line between hiring a criminal and not? In the case of this CDOT incident, you do the background check first and see if a candidate’s crimes are job-related or not. A criminal past doesn’t mean a candidate will be a poor worker, but past charges relevant to the job at hand may result in a repeat incident.