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City considers new background screening legislation

Feb 12, 2013 Quinn Thomas

City considers new background screening legislation

Criminal background checks have been a major point of contention in Washington, state-level governments and businesses across the nation in recent months, as events have brought more attention to the screening process than ever before. While regulators continue to weigh more stringent background screening requirements for businesses, long-standing employee- rights legislation makes the checking process complicated.

Companies have to balance between abiding by employee rights as enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and maintaining thorough questions to ensure the safety of all staff members and patrons. To accomplish this, executives need to keep a close eye on the various goings-on in federal and state governments, as many new laws continue to be passed.

Screening-less in Seattle

The Seattle Times recently reported that the City Council might pass a new law that would further contract the variety of questions employers can ask during the application process. This ordinance would prohibit all companies based in Seattle from inquiring about an applicant's criminal history until the hire has been nearly finalized. 

According to the news provider, this will make the hiring process even more difficult and choppy than it already is, noting that nearly three-quarters of all negligent hiring cases end poorly for employers. Additionally, the average settlement businesses have to pay following these proceedings is $1.6 million.

The source explained that these figures are why employers remain vigilant when conducting background screening, as laws outline that it is the company's responsibility to ensure a safe environment for all employees and patrons. The new law being discussed in Seattle will make it difficult for employers to carry out the necessary processes to ensure a secure workplace.

The Seattle Times asserted that while the EEOC's regulations, as well as others that protect applicants, are right-minded, this new legislation in the city would put employers in too precarious of a position. In fact, the source added that the EEOC already passed more legislation to prohibit an employer from not hiring an applicant purely because of a conviction.

Hiring the pros for optimal processes
As background screening legislation continues to become more complex, businesses should consider hiring a firm that specializes in responsibilities to ensure legal and secure hiring of all applicants. This strategy can provide a more streamlined approach to the on-boarding process, while maintaining strong reputations among potential employees and avoiding the weighty penalties of breaking the associated laws.