Conducting FCRA and EEOC Compliant Criminal Background Checks

For employers and hiring managers alike, making hiring decisions while remaining compliant with local and federal laws is an increasingly challenging task with the growing restrictions around how applicants’ criminal records are handled.

Background checks provide the confidence and reassurance employers are looking for when they are bringing new faces into their companies. For some industries, an in depth look into an applicant’s criminal history is crucial to avoid liability and to protect especially vulnerable clients, such as the child and home care industries. Such industries are safer to practice hardline policies that automatically disqualify certain candidates. For the rest, it is generally recommended to keep their focus on recent convictions.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Originating in the 1970s, the EEOC discourages employers from making hiring decisions based on arrest records, as “racial and ethnic minorities are often treated differently at the arrest level,” according to attorney James Reidy. Additionally, it provides compliance guidelines that require employers to consider how long ago the criminal incident took place and its pertinence to the job in question before making sweeping disqualifications of applicants with criminal histories.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The FCRA regulates employers’ methods for conducting background checks using third-party credit reporting agencies (CRAs), including their policies managing consent, disclosure, and giving applicants appropriate notification about the results of the reports. Employers are liable for any mistakes that a CRA makes during the background check so it’s very important to choose a third party agency wisely by reviewing customer ratings and the BBB.

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