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Timing of criminal background checks hazy for some employers

Oct 06, 2012 Quinn Thomas

Timing of criminal background checks hazy for some employers
Background checks are a common and crucial part of business operations, as it is the responsibility of employers to ensure the safety of both clientele and other employees. When conducting background check tasks such as ID verification and criminal history assessments, employers must ensure they are following legal statutes and best practices.
 One point of unclarity among many companies is when in the interviewing and onboarding processes is it best to conduct a criminal background check. While it may seem best to carry out the check early on, there are best practices and legalities that protect the applicant. Knowing the protections
Human Resource Executive Online recently published guidance on criminal background checks, outlining the reasons for conducting the processes and when they should be carried out. According to the source, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has made a point of examining criminal background checks because of poor-results experienced by Hispanic and African-American males. While employers are not allowed to discriminate because of sex, national origin, religion, race or color under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, having a criminal history is a foggy point. The source explained that two outcomes - disparate treatment and disparate impact - have become apparent, and are illegal. Disparate treatment is the act of favoring one applicant over another with a similar criminal history because of one of the protected characteristics. Disparate impact is when an employer denies applicants who have a specific type of criminal record and cannot prove it is related to business operations. Gauging timing for optimal outcome
The source explained that the timing of the request is only regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which dictates employers cannot procure a criminal background history statement until after the applicant has signed a disclosure form. Several specific states have varied legal timing requirements, though it is not widespread. Human Resource Executive Online cited Hawaii's legislation, which demands employers make a formal offer before conducting the criminal background check, while other states require the hiring firms to simply wait until the end of the candidate's application process. The National Federation of Independent Businesses explains that the risks of negligent hiring are broad, as employers can incur lawsuits and subsequent losses from failing to adequately screen their workers. For this reason, as well as to protect the business, staff members and clientele, employers should focus efforts on meeting all best practices and legal guidelines when conducting criminal background checks.