Background Checks In An Age Of Sensitivity

While businesses are struggling to find top talent, yet are aware that the vast majority of resumes are filled with at least some misinformation, it can be a bit of a challenge to do background checks on would-be new hires and be within the law.  

According to an article by Riia O’Donnell on the HR Dive website, a number of states and local governments have adopted ban-the-box laws. More importantly, employers wishing to screen applicants need to be in compliance with federal non-discrimination laws of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) some of the more than 180 states and cities that have ban-the-box laws state that an employer cannot perform a background check until an offer of employment is made. If any red flags do happen to appear during a worker’s background check, employers are expected to judge each on its own merits.

Today, there can be added challenges in doing a background check since we are now in the era of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Given the sensitivity of the issues surrounding the issues surrounding both movements, someone could be denied employment based merely on allegations rather than the conviction of wrongdoing according to Tim Garrett, of Bass, Berry & Sims.

Since governments have created challenges for employers wishing to do a background check, one approach is for employers to go through a professional agency rather than doing it themselves. If an agency is used, it’s advisable to go with a reputable firm which is aligned with the National Association of Background Screeners and is known to be in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and EEOC requirements.