Can pre-employment screening be considered discriminatory?
An important aspect of any employment screening program is consistency. Employers with a written policy who are conducting background checks uniformly within job classifications will be able to refute most claims of discrimination. Employers may also face claims of discrimination when using the information obtained from a background check. Therefore, employers should have job-related standards in place on what negative information may preclude an applicant from employment. Again, these standards must be followed consistently.
In addition, employers must be aware of the guidelines the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has mandated for the use of criminal records. The EEOC and other state legislation restrict the use of background information by an employer. Under EEOC guidelines, an employer may not automatically disqualify an applicant with a criminal record. Before making the final hiring decision, the employer must take into consideration several factors such as the nature of the offense, how long ago it took place and the position for which the applicant is applying. Not taking these factors into consideration may result in a claim of discrimination and EEOC scrutiny.
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