Compliance is the name of the game in today’s pre-employment background screening process. Kansas and North Carolina’s recent enactment of laws last week governing the use of criminal history in background screening for state government highlights the need for all HR departments to utilize a qualified, third-party background screening agency.

The Kansas and North Carolina laws highlight an immediate need for companies to work with background screening agencies in order to stay fully compliant with laws governing the use of criminal records as part of the applicant vetting process.

As 30-plus states and 150-plus municipalities have now enacted “Ban-the-Box” legislation, the time for hiring managers and HR departments to work with a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening agency in order to stay fully compliant with existing laws has never been more important.

The ban-the-box movement, which is increasingly becoming a universal rule, seeks to stop employers from automatically asking job applicants if they have criminal histories. Supporters say asking about criminal records on applications unfairly stigmatizes individuals with records years – even decades – after their convictions and makes it more difficult for individuals released from prison to be employed.

The recent laws in Kansas and North Carolina highlight the continued evolution with laws governing the use of criminal history reports and increases the urgency that all hiring departments renew pre-employment background screening policies so they stay current and compliant.

Failure to comply with such laws can be costly. A recent settlement by Target, one of the nation’s leading retailers, reinforces this point. The company has settled a threatened nationwide class action lawsuit arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for $3.74 million dollars and other programmatic relief.

Overall, the subject of background checks, including criminal record screening policies, is complicated and continues to garner attention from legislatures, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the plaintiffs’ bar. It is prudent for all employers, and particularly multi-state employers, to take measures to help ensure they comply with all applicable laws, including the so-called ban-the-box laws and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Ultimately a best practice remains for all hiring departments to work with a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening agency in order to remain fully compliant with law.

Please do not hesitate to contact GroupOne Background Screening should you have questions.

 

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