Recently, HR Morning carried an article titled: “EEOC warns about background checks.” It’s about the E-RACE program. Here’s a core paragraph.
“The EEOC program designed to combat discriminatory practices tied to background checks is called E-RACE (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment). It started when the agency noted, in the last few years, a steep climb in complaints from applicants who said they were unfairly excluded from competing for a job because of information that showed up on a background check.”
The key word here is “unfairly.” If you’re using background checks the right way you should be in compliance with the program.
Here are some guidelines. Note that I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. But I have been around the hiring process for a while and I know that the key thing isn’t whether you use background checks, but how you use them.
Check everyone. If you’re just checking people of a certain race or gender or age or from only one part of town, it’s like hanging an “I’m discriminating” sign around your neck.
If you’re going to refuse to hire an otherwise-qualified person because of their criminal record, make sure the record is relevant to the job. Consider the nature of the offense and when it occurred.
If there’s a record, but it doesn’t point to a specific problem on the job, it still may point to character issues. Just remember that the background check alone won’t be enough.
Use what you’ve found as the starting point for questions. Combine it with what you discover on your pre-employment credit check to make those questions sharper.
Remember: background checks and pre-employment credit reports can be great tools to make your hiring more effective. But you’ve got to use them to make good and fair business judgments.