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New EEOC statute impacts background screening policies

Feb 15, 2013 Quinn Thomas

New EEOC statute impacts background screening policies

Recent nationally publicized events have illustrated the importance of strong criminal background screening procedures in enterprises. All employment firms are responsible for maintaining a safe and secure workplace for employees and customers, and this statute directly increases the need for thorough and accurate background checking of applicants prior to making a hire.

However, the background screening process becomes more complex when following the employee-protection guidelines of agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which ensure employers do not deny an applicant for illegal reasons. Businesses need to walk the line of applicant rights and corporate security when hiring new employees.

Dangers of poor background screening 

Fleet Owner recently reported that the EEOC has released new guidance pertaining to the enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and this has led many companies to adjust their background screening policies. The rule, titled "Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions" was launched in April 2012.

The source explained that this new statute brings former criminal records and other information into the pool of discrimination when such histories are the only reasons for not accepting an applicant. Additionally, the rule was formulated by the EEOC because of the high number of individuals in certain demographics that have been incarcerated. 

"Arrest and incarceration rates are particularly high for African American and Hispanic men. African Americans and Hispanics are arrested at a rate that is 2 to 3 times their proportion of the general population," the EEOC's report explained, according to Fleet Owner. "Assuming that current incarceration rates remain unchanged, about 1 in 17 white men are expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime; by contrast, this rate climbs to 1 in 6 for Hispanic men; and to 1 in 3 for African American men."

The news provider explained that companies can ensure adherence to this law while still protecting their employees by only using criminal conviction histories that could be directly tied to the responsibilities the applicant would have upon employment.

Outsourcing might be best
The EEOC is only one oversight and regulatory entity that creates and enforces laws regarding the proper hiring and background screening of applicants. Businesses might benefit from outsourcing the background checking process to a firm that specializes in the law, as this will often lead to the most streamlined, timely and legal screening practices.