Background Checks On Job Candidates: Be Very Careful
More than two thirds (69%) of employers run criminal background checks on all of their potential employees according to a 2012 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management. At the same time, the number of Americans with criminal records has escalated dramatically in recent years. According to the 2013 testimony of a Justice Department official, a startling one in three Americans has some sort of criminal record, which often includes an arrest that didn’t lead to a conviction, a conviction that didn’t result in jail time or a conviction for a non-violent crime. Yet often these records are swept into over-broad background checks that then exclude applicants from jobs.
While the guidelines sanction the use of background checks, they remind employers they must use a three-pronged test laid out by the Supreme Court in a landmark 1975 ruling called Green v. Missouri Pacific Railroad: Employers must consider the nature of the crime, its relation to the potential job, and the time that has passed since the offense. The EEOC guidelines also say that employers must give applicants the chance to explain the circumstances of their criminal records, including information about whether they already proved they could do the same sort of work for which they’re applying, and whether they had gotten rehabilitation services or other training.