Warning! Employee Background Checks Can Get You In Big Trouble

employee background checksWe all know that not conducting employee background checks can get us in big trouble.  Sadly, there are still lots of organizations that are not conducing quality background checks and are exposing themselves to risk of harm as well as legal trouble such as negligent hiring and negligent retention.

However, that is not our focus today.

Did you know that conducing employee background checks can get you in big trouble?  Say what?

Background screening exploded in our post 9-11 world as organizations became consumed with safety and security.  We developed a heightened sense of awareness. 

Unfortunately, the background screening industry did not mature and develop into an industry focused on safety and security.  The proliferation of cheap criminal record checks still permeates the industry leaving organizations at risk.

Selecting the right background screening partner is one of the most important decisions an organization can make and should not be based on:

Price.  Quality background screening is not a commodity.  If you are looking for cheap, you will find it.  Comprehensive criminal record checks often cost just a few dollars more so it does not make sense to risk harm to your organization or expose yourself to legal risk to save a few dollars.

      Speed.  Turnaround time is important..  However, if you receive completed reports instantly or in a few hours then you are sacrificing quality for speed.  There is no such thing as an instant background check.

The right screening partner will provide a balance of speed and price without sacrificing quality. 

It has NEVER been more important for organizations to understand how to conduct legally compliant criminal background checks.  These 5 areas pose significant risk for organizations:

·         Negligent Hiring/Retention.  Low quality background checks inherently have high failure rates even for serious felony records.

·         Ban the Box.  Huge movement across the U.S. to disallow criminal history questions on an application.  This is spreading quickly in municipalities and state legislatures.  The foundation for this theory is that ex-offenders are being disenfranchised.  That if they were able to obtain an interview and explain their criminal history that they would be more employable.

·         EEOC.  The EEOC 2012-16 strategic plan focuses specifically on employers use of criminal background checks.  The belief is that the proliferation in background screening is having a disparate impact on certain minorities.  Organizations need to follow a 3 pronged approach:

o   What is the nature & gravity of the crime?

o   How long ago was the crime committed?

o   How does the crime impact the position held or sought?

·         Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Yes, the FCRA applies even if you are NOT conducting credit reports.  The FCRA has very specific requirements and recent lawsuits for non-compliance have been in the millions of dollars.  Simply put, the FCRA requires:

o   Candidates provided a Disclosure Statement AND provide an Authorization (written or electronic)

If taking adverse action based “in whole or part” on the screening report:

o   Pre-Adverse Action Letter, copy of the report and a Summary of Rights Under the FCRA.

o   Adverse Action Letter sent after 5 business days if candidate does not dispute the accuracy of the information.

·         Social Media Background Checks.   How many of you will admit to searching candidates through social media, Google, etc?  The concept is extremely appealing but can be fraught with problems.  Social media background checks can expose an organization to risk of:

o   Discrimination-Seeing protected information like age, race, marital status, etc.

o   Privacy-Yes, even the internet can have a reasonable expectation of privacy since most social media sites require some form of friending.

o   Authenticity-How do you know it is your candidate?  Common name spellings?  How do you know that your candidate is not operating online under an assumed name?

If you are not conducting high quality background checks then you are at risk of missing information, negligent hiring, negligent retention as well as compliance issues related to the FCRA, EEOC, social media and band the box. 

Is saving a few bucks worth all of these headaches?

This is topic is extremely critical to your organization and we simply cannot provide enough time or discussion to adequately cover this in an article.    So join us for a webinar:

·         Tuesday, May 14, 2013- Register

·         Tuesday, May 21, 2013- Register