News & Resources

Small businesses should be wary when using criminal background screening

Sep 17, 2012 Quinn Thomas

While both financial and criminal background screenings for potential employees are considered to be a matter of due diligence for small businesses, employers will want to be careful how they use such information. According to a blog post by Jon Hyman for Workforce Management magazine, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prohibits employers for using overly broad, blanket exclusions against applicants with arrests or criminal histories. The ruling, which was put into place four months ago, instead requires businesses to adopt a "targeted screen" that considers the nature of the crime, the time elapsed since it was committed and the nature of the job, Hyman explains. This policy has come into the news due to a lawsuit filed by the EEOC against Tennessee-based Dollar General Corp. The lawsuit alleges that the company's criminal background screening policies has a "disparate impact" on black job candidates and employees, the Nashville Business Journal reports. In the end, Hyman suggests businesses take a long, hard look at how they use criminal records to make hiring decisions to avoid potential litigation.