What are employers are allowed to find out about applicants?
Employment Screening is a convenient tool providing employers with the ability to weed out unfit candidates before hiring new employees. Because of the increased risk of violence, theft and criminal activities in the workplace, it has become necessary for employers to conduct pre-employment screenings. These reports include criminal background checks in addition to asking about criminal records on job applications. Failing to take reasonable precautions during their hiring process can lead to an increased risk for litigation if an employee with a criminal record harms another person in the workplace. Background screening compaies such as AAA Credit Screening Services (AAACSS) help employers during the hiring process by providing information about candidates during the hirng provess in an easy, prompt and expedient manner.
Running criminal background checks will not prevent a person with a criminal record from ever finding a good job. Private employers running background checks on prospective employees normally do not have access to governmental criminal databases. Private employers can physically go to individual court houses and look through records kept by each court. There are over 10,000 courthouses in the United States making a nationwide courthouse check for a prospective employee's records impractical.
Careful examination of an applicant's resume or job application is an indicator as to which parts of the country to conduct a search during the background screening process. Running credit reports can also assist with reviewing records, due to the fact that they list addresses associated with an applicant's Social Security Number. To track where an employee has been, and to ensure that there were no unexplained gaps in employment, employers should verify prior employment. If careful examination of prior addresses, criminal record entries can be missed.
Employers that hire background screening companies such as AAACSS should know that they are regulated by The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and will require an applicant’s written consent for searches to be conducted. If an applicant is found to have a criminal record, that applicant must be given an opportunity to question it’s accuracy and must receive a copy of their legal rights before the decision to deny the applicant the job is made final. Due to the manner in which public records are kept, errors are always possible, and cases of mistaken identity have occurred.
There are legal limits on how far back court researches can go in reporting convictions. Event with the limitations, it is still a valuable tool for employers to use during the hiring process. A search for criminal background records discourages applicants with something to hide and limits uncertainty in the hiring process.
It also provides proof that an employer exercised due diligence. Even if an applicant is found to have a criminal background record during background screening by an employment screening agency, there are legal limitations on what information can be used by an employer.
If a criminal conviction or pending case appears during a search, does that necessarily mean that an applicant is eliminated? The answer again is no. Automatically denying employment can result in court findings against a company for discrimination against certain groups. Employers must determine whether there is a sound business reason to not hire an individual with a criminal record, taking into account the nature of the offense, whether it is job-related, when it occurred and what the person has done since.
What can applicants do if they are concerned about a criminal matter?
- An attorney if the criminal record can be expunged or set aside by going back to court, or whether it is the type of offense that an employer may legally ask about or consider.
- Applicants can seek to rebuild their resumes by finding employment with people they know, or with employers in a tight job market willing to give them an opportunity.
- Honesty is always the best policy. A criminal matter explained during an interview may have much less of a negative impact than hiding it and having an employer discover it later. The denial of a job could be based upon the lack of truthfulness, regardless of the nature of the offense.