Two Continuing Trends in Background Screening Point to an Urgent Need to Thoroughly Review Pre-Employment Screening Policies, States

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Two continuing trends in the background screening industry point to an urgent need for businesses to conduct a thorough review of all current pre-employment screening policies to ensure continued compliancy. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: "New ban-the-box legislation combined with continued legal actions by the EEOC (over the use of Criminal History in hiring) are two key reasons why companies should thoroughly review hiring policies in 2014."

Criminal Background Records

Criminal Background Records

Whether it is ban-the-box legislation or continued action by the EEOC, the use of criminal history records, as well as other forms of information, will continue to be called into question.

As another year ends reflection upon the previous year just passed is inevitable. In the background screening industry there are two continuing trends that all companies and organizations that conduct hiring should be aware: Continued legislative action in regards to criminal histories regarding ban-the-box and ongoing legal actions by the EEOC.

Posted to the National Law Review website (Jan. 02, 14) the author highlights an area of concern for hiring managers in 2014:

Resolve to update applicant background check policies and practices. Ensure that such policies are directly job-related and properly conducted. In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published enforcement guidelines targeting the use of criminal history and credit information in employment decisions. In 2014, the EEOC is expected to continue pressuring employers by filing disparate impact lawsuits challenging criminal background check practices.

The EEOC has proven aggressive in pursuing legal action but some states have taken preventive measures against the EEOC. The State of Texas has filed suit against the EEOC (Case 5:13-cv-00255-C (N.D. Tex.) Texas v EEOC,, see also

The background industry trade organization, SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) states (Nov. 12, 13):

Texas, the nation’s second most populous state, has taken the gloves off and is suing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), claiming in a Nov. 4, 2013, complaint that the state does not have to comply with the agency’s guidance prohibiting employers from having categorical bans on hiring criminals.
Back and forth legal action between various public entities, such as the State of Texas and the EEOC will continue to cause confusion over the use of criminal histories in hiring.

Ban-the-Box legislation takes a different stance in regards to the use of Criminal History: When and where they can be used.

On January 1, 2014 the State of Minnesota put into law "Ban-the-Box" legislation.

Employers in Minnesota are now forbidden "from asking about a job candidate's criminal history on employment applications" and "must wait until an applicant is selected for an interview to inquire about a criminal history." (Northland News Center, Jan. 02, 14)

As evidence of on-going "Ban-the-Box" legislative movement in 2014, the New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee voted to advance that state's own "Ban-the-Box" legislation.

Recently, in a 6-3 vote, New Jersey’s Assembly Labor Committee advanced a bill (A-3837), known as the Opportunity to Compete Act, that would prohibit New Jersey employers with 15 or more employees from asking candidates about their criminal history on employment applications, and from conducting criminal background checks on applicants prior to a conditional job offer.

It is clear that continued legal and legislative activity will continue into 2014 and beyond, and it is equally apparent that businesses and organizations of every size should be prepared for change. Almeida states:

"Whether it is ban-the-box legislation or continued action by the EEOC, the use of criminal history records, as well as other forms of information, will continue to be called into question. Businesses should review their current background screening policies to ensure they remain legally compliant in this rapidly changing environment." is a third-party background screening company that assists companies large and small with all of their background screening requirements. With vast knowledge of local, state and federal laws and regulations, can assist in creating a compliant pre-employment background screening policy in a continuously changing legal environment.

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Dan Adams
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