Background Checks in Hiring

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Using Background Checks in the Hiring Process
Keather Cofield
MAN4320
November 2nd, 2012

Practice Article

The practice article I read was Criminal Background Policy Checkup by Gary Siniscalo, Erin M. Connell, and Alexandra Stathopoulos. The authors discuss the matter of a catch-22 within the hiring process of using background checks as a selection method. Being unemployed and staying unemployed is a revolving door for most applicants who have a past criminal record. Often employers see the record on the background check and choose not to hire the applicant. The people being affected most by this backwards policy are the blacks and Hispanics who simultaneously comprise the highest percentage of unemployed and who hold criminal records.

The article further reviews the new federal guidance passed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stating that the use of criminal records on a background check as a selection tool is illegal if the decision not to hire is not specifically linked to a business/job-related necessity. This new federal guidance was created to help the unemployed with criminal backgrounds to still get jobs that in turn would decrease the steeply rising unemployment numbers. Though the new guidance solves the rising unemployment issues this country is facing, it causes a heavier burden for companies who have to now try and find particular reasons for needing to complete background checks on applicants. Before the EEOC’s regulation on background checks, companies used the criminal history information as an indicator of future behaviors whether or not the crime would be relevant to the task of the new job.

The new guidance now asks companies to evaluate their policies on the use of background checks. Decisions should be made on multiple points within a background check, and more investigation into each issue should be made before the choice not to hire is made. Each human resource department or hiring manager of a company should consider the age at which the applicant committed the crime and the length of time that has passed since. They should ask the applicant to explain the arrest and if he or she was actually convicted or found guilty in order to examine the actual severity of the crime. Each applicant should be evaluated on a case-by-case manner and never at face value according to the statistics on a background check. The biggest issues companies are facing right now are how to manage staying within the guidelines without facing future prosecution or lawsuits of discrimination while still fulfilling their needs during the hiring process.

The authors suggest seeking legal advice and instruction on how to alter their staffing procedures to remain with in the legal lines of the new guidance while still meeting the business needs of the company.

Research Article

The research article I chose was Demographic Variables and Credit Scores by Jeremy Bernerth. With an uprising popularity of companies using background checks as a part of their selection process, the tension of possible discrimination lawsuits on companies have grown too. This piece narrows in on a particular sub-category of an overall background check; the credit score. The article explains in detail of the study that was conducted to see if a possible correlation exists between certain protected classes and groups and their credit scores.

The researchers were looking for participants in university employees, alumni, and random employed persons outside of the university system. The investigators posted the summary of the study in a chosen university’s news feed page on the college of business website and sent a mass e-mail to the employees and alumni for recruitment. Also, extra credit was offered to Upper-division College of business students who recruited one employed person willing to partake in the study.

To participate, the subjects being studied were asked to complete a background survey and to obtain a copy...
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