Employment Background Checking – What’s happening?
While more and more PACE customers are requiring an increased number of background checks prior to allowing even their short term temporary employees to work on-site, recent trends are starting to reveal just how slippery a slope we’re all on. Here are the trends we see and want our clients to know about.
1. The EEOC is watching closely. With 9 out of 10 employers conducting criminal background checks on some, if not all job candidates, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been paying increased attention to the employer communities’ improper use of arrest and conviction records as part of their hiring process. Their concern? Making sure that an employer does not check for criminal history too early in the process or reveal the results to all players in the hiring process—thus creating unfair or discriminatory barriers for ex-offenders. Don’t expect them to be definitive—just pay special attention.
2. New Regulations (Re: Credit Reports). Seven states, Washington being one of them, currently have laws limiting the use of credit report checks by employers for employment purposes. Washington’s law, passed in 2007, prohibits employers from obtaining a credit report as part of a background check unless that information is substantially job related. It requires employers to state in writing their reasons for using this information—for example, could their credit information be relevant to their job performance.
3. Social Media – Increasingly prevalent, but still controversial. While some employers have been found negligent by not tapping into information readily available to them via social media venues, employers have also learned to tread with caution. The information you read is not always 100% accurate and you could face issues related to violation of privacy and possible discrimination. A recent study by social media thought leader, Jobvite, suggests that 86% of recruiters will, on occasion, view a candidate profile on a social media venue—61% say they do so regularly. By searching these social media venues for possible job candidates, employers are potentially facing a slippery slope.
4. Automation – Balancing efficiencies with risk. While technology advances have created a robust landscape for employers to select their screening providers—who advertise fast, accurate and inexpensive results–the risks of misusing unfiltered or inaccurate information continue to increase. Whole new industries and services are being created to certify a vendor’s use of “best practices.” For example the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) has created an accreditation rating for its screening provider members. Employers are urged to select their background check vendors against measured forms of knowledge and process execution.
5. Lawsuits – More coming on all fronts! With the advancement of Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) regulations, employees and their attorneys are now looking closely at how those regulations have been implemented inside specific employer organizations and how they have impacted specific employees applying for work. Not unexpected, however, are the increasing number of FCRA infractions and other related lawsuits. The result is the “perfect storm”—with employers facing the risk of being sued by their own employees for workplace crimes committed by other employees that were negligently hired, while also facing lawsuits from job applicants complaining of inaccurate reports or failures to meet FCRA disclosure requirements.