Background Screening . . . Is it Worth it?
To the un-initiated, background screening appears very simple and clear-cut. Check for criminal records and verify credentials before hiring anyone- easy enough. Not so. Background Screening is actually a very dynamic and complex industry (not to mention still a bit “young”).
There are strict rules and regulations designed to protect job applicants from unfair hiring practices. The FTC created the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which governs much more than just the use of credit reports, and the whole reason the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) was established is to enforce laws against workplace discrimination. As employers, these agencies can be your best friend, or worst enemy.
Unfortunately, the Screening Industry tends to get attention when there is a breakdown in the process that results in a lawsuit…which later results in more stringent rules and regulations. I get it -we have to protect individuals from discriminatory practices, but let’s not lose site that there is also an obligation to provide a safe workplace for employees.
Screening is much more than criminal records and credit checks, but right now I’m thinking specifically about criminal records. Employers don’t have to hire someone with a criminal record, but they do have to apply consistent hiring criteria and make sure they are considering multiple factors like actual convictions (not just arrests or pending cases), that the convictions were recent enough to matter, that they were job-related…etc.
It all gives me a headache sometimes and makes me wonder…is it really worth the expense, the time, and the administrative resources to have a screening program. Then something always happens to remind me . . . it ABSOLUTELY is worth it.
Several months ago, here in the Charlotte, NC area, a restaurant hired a young man recently out of prison for breaking and entering. Before the breaking and entering, he was on probation for being a co-conspirator in a restaurant robbery where his co-workers were held at gunpoint. This resulted in a three-year-suspended prison sentence and probation. When he later chose to “break and enter”, his probation was revoked, and he was sentenced to three years in prison.
Less than two months after being released and hired at the restaurant, he killed the restaurant manager in a robbery attempt. The manager was a week away from getting married, and 2 months pregnant. This tragedy is in my mind and on my heart constantly.
Had the company followed the guidelines set forth to protect not only the applicant, but also their employees, there is no doubt in my mind this tragedy could have been prevented. Everyone deserves a second chance, but doesn’t everyone also deserve to be safe in the workplace?
While jumping through all of the “hoops” related to hiring, we should always keep in mind why we need to do background checks in the first place.
Yes, it is tough to keep up with ever-changing climate of the screening industry, but in the end, it really is worth it . . . for everyone.
The entire reason the EEOC was established was to enforce laws against workplace discrimination. Good for them. When it gets to a point however, when the “rights” of an applicant convicted of a felony are more important than the safety of a group of employees- do we need to re-evaluate?
Credit, Education verification, Professional license verification, it is all important
Nichole Disser, Strategic Account Manager