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Criminal background screening regulations intensify across America

Jul 29, 2013 Quinn Thomas

Employment screening is used by many organizations to ensure that they are hiring the best job candidates available. From investigating consumer credit reports to criminal histories, businesses have long used background checks to verify the legitimacy of future employees.

Despite the advantages this process represents for companies of all sizes, lawmakers across the United States have been enacting significant restrictions against the practice.

According the the Seyfarth Shaw law firm, states throughout the country have been implementing "Ban the Box" laws that prohibit employers from asking about criminal histories on job applications. Potentially, this could become the norm in the U.S., the source speculated.

Rhode Island is the most recent state to pass such legislation, joining Hawaii, Massachusetts and Minnesota in having Ban the Box laws on the books. Moreover, the source reported that various local governments in a number of states have also approved similar regulations. Although the exact stipulations vary from state to state, they generally outlaw or severely limit asking about past criminal activity prior to a job interview.

Starting January 1, 2014, firms in Minnesota will have to comply with new Ban the Box policies, according to Business Management. Until then, companies will need to create a comprehensive solution for conducting employment screens in the future. In order to avoid possible lawsuits that may arise from erroneous practices, enterprises should consider using the services of a professional screening organization.

These firms specialize in investigating applicant records, whether it's the analysis of credit reports or criminal files. Also, they have reputable professionals on staff that understand various local, state and federal laws that determine what is legal and what is not in the screening process. With laws continually changing, it might be necessary for businesses to use such services.