Potential Hazards of Employment Background Checks

InterviewAs employers, we strive to build the best workforce possible. Oftentimes, the final step in the pre-employment screening process for potential employees is conducting a criminal background check. Even though we wish to receive the clearest picture of who we are offering employment to, making employment background checks a mandatory part of the hiring process always includes risks.

This is especially the case when you request a more comprehensive background check that will expose you to other legal claims involving the court system. The following list highlights potential hazards associated with employment background checks, as well as tips on how to minimize legal claims against your business:

1. The danger in discovering civil claims of potential employees.

Knowing the criminal history of all of your employees is considered a necessity within many companies. Expanding this knowledge to include all other actions related to a potential employee’s legal history, however, opens up a can of worms that can implicate your business in a wrongful hiring lawsuit.

For example, a common civil claim that may appear on a broader background check involves marital divorce. If a potential employee discovers (through the interview process, for example) that his or her divorce proceedings turned up in during the pre-employment screening process, the candidate could claim discrimination on the basis of marital status if not hired. The same goes for race, ethnicity and disability status.

The accusation of discrimination is nothing to take lightly, so it is best to consider these possibilities when choosing the size and scope of your employment background checks.

2. Insulate the hiring committee from prohibited documents.

All employment background check results should be held strictly within the human resources department of your company, unavailable to all managers involved in the hiring process. If you are someone who is ultimately involved in making the hiring decision, you should never view these documents, as doing so can quickly implicate you in a possible discrimination suit.

3.  Use a reputable background check company.

One of the easiest ways to ensure your company receives only the information you request is to work with a professional employment background check company that has a proven reputation for being knowledgeable, professional and ethical. It is recommended that you choose a firm that is a part of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. It’s also a good idea to review the company’s website and ask for references from current clients to confirm the company’s reputation.

[ Photo by: Alan Cleaver, on Flickr, via CC License ]


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