Reviewing Background Checks: Consistency is Key

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Enforcement Guidance on using criminal background checks in the hiring process were issued two years ago this month. This guidance is designed to ensure that employers do not violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in hiring.

This 2012 guidance has caused many companies to re-evaluate their hiring practices when it comes to criminal background checks. The EEOC is concerned with two practices that may violate Title VII:

  1. If job applicants with the same criminal records are treated differently.
  2. If criminal record exclusions disproportionately exclude people of a certain race or national origin.

You can read the full guidance here:

In complying with the guidance, consistency is the key. Companies must be consistent in when they do criminal background checks, how they do criminal background checks, and how they apply them.

A big part of our job at MBI Worldwide is staying abreast of all laws affecting hiring practices, and helping our clients ensure they comply with those hiring laws.

To ensure consistency in using criminal background checks in hiring, we recommend that you review all applicants identically, and be ready to document your process, if asked.

What we suggest is that you develop a matrix for each type of position in the company to evaluate the background checks considering the type of job, the seriousness of the crime, and how much time has passed since the conviction.

Being able to show exactly how you evaluate criminal background check information, and that you evaluate each job candidate in the same way, is the key to showing consistency in your hiring practices.

And, of course, when in doubt, consult your company’s HR attorney.

Leave a Comment