News & Resources

Criminal background checks may put firms at risk of lawsuits

Oct 30, 2012 Quinn Thomas

Business owners perform both financial and criminal background screenings on applicants to ensure they're trustworthy and responsible. Criminal background checks have been critical to this, with many employers excluding any individual who comes up with a history. However, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is asking businesses to give applicants with criminal backgrounds a second chance. If businesses aren't swayed by the morality of the EEOC's reasoning, there is also the increased possibility of discrimination lawsuits to consider, Human Resources Journal explains. "I would suggest to (businesses) that they think long and hard about why they think they need to do a criminal background check," John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago district, told the news source, suggesting that if firms have little reason to need to perform such checks, they may be better off avoiding them. In April, the EEOC updated its Enforcement Guidance on how employers can use applicants' criminal records in hiring decisions. According to The Journal-Advocate, in the majority of cases, businesses are unable to discriminate against anyone solely on the basis of having a conviction or arrest record.