Are Criminal Background Checks Illegal?

Criminal background checks can be a valuable resource for employers when recruiting new employees. Over time, laws have developed that require employers to thoroughly investigate job candidates before hiring them. An employer who fails to implement appropriate background checks can be held liable for “negligent hiring” if a new employee later becomes a problem. Criminal background checks often provide necessary protections for employers, but they also carry risks. In two recently filed lawsuits, the EEOC has taken the position that criminal background checks should have limited use in the hiring process. In both lawsuits, the EEOC alleged that an employer engaged in unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire any job candidate with a criminal conviction. The outcome of these lawsuits will seriously impact how employers conduct pre-hiring background checks on employees in the future. For now, employers utilizing criminal background checks in their pre-hiring decisions should ensure that their criminal background investigations are lawful. Employers are encouraged to follow the guidelines set forth by the EEOC when utilizing criminal background checks in the hiring process.

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Posted Under: Criminal Records

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