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Employee backgrounds screening takes center stage

Aug 26, 2013 Quinn Thomas

Employee backgrounds screening takes center stage

Background checks are a critical component of the overall on-boarding process, as businesses are responsible for maintaining a safe environment for employees and customers while not discriminating against applicants. The screening process can be extremely difficult to navigate, especially for companies that do not have seasoned human resource personnel in place.

Between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and a variety of state and industry-specific enforcement entities, poor background screening protocols can lead to significant issues for an employer. Sanctions, investigations and fines are not the only threats either, as businesses can miss opportunities to bring talented individuals on board when the screening process is too slow or inaccurate.

For these reasons, companies that do not feel entirely comfortable with the laws and best practices of background checks should consider outsourcing the tasks to a professional firm. This will often streamline and expedite the process while yielding fewer inaccuracies and errors.

Screening as a priority

The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a nonprofit advocacy, research and awareness group, recently commended the Today Show for a special report that highlighted the need for accurate and legal background screening. The show discussed the ways in which background checks fit into the overall employment process, and how important these protocols are to ensure safe and comfortable working environments.

According to the organization, background screening helps companies minimize the risks of violence and theft in the workplace, protecting both the integrity of the business and its existing employees. Additionally, thorough background checks can also reduce the prevalence of insider threats, which are among the most common causes of identity theft and wire fraud today.

The firm noted that exceptional processes will help mitigate the two main types of legal actions taken against organizations that fail to meet screening requirements - discrimination and negligent hiring lawsuits. Further, the nonprofit association suggested that consumers should question companies they do business with about their background screening protocols, especially in certain industries.

"Health care workers, volunteers working with children, those handling money issues for businesses – and especially home service workers - are all examples of positions where employers need to know who they are hiring," NAPBS Chairman Fred Giles explained. "Background screening is a critical practice that provides employers with the peace of mind and confidence to know they're making the best hiring decision possible."

Finally, NAPBS asserted that professional background screening companies are a smart choice because they are subject to federal oversight and audits, including regulatory compliance statutes such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and EEOC all work to ensure that background screening companies maintain reliable, moral and legal practices.

Critical thinking sometimes necessary
The Washington Post recently explained how one individual had been dismissed from a felony theft charge, yet still experienced issues when trying to get a job several years later. The news provider asserted that while his record should have been cleared, the firms denying his application are still in the wrong because the man is protected under the EEOC.

However, the theft charge was likely viewed by financial institutions as a red flag. According to the source, federal regulators require employers to send any applicants who were denied a position because of a piece of information discovered during the screening process an "adverse action notice." This gives the person in question an opportunity to dispute the decision.

The Washington Post explained that data providers likely need to do a better job at managing more accurate information, and that companies need to scrutinize any records that seem to be inaccurate.

In most cases, hiring a professional background screening firm will be the best choice.