The mission of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is to ensure that no one seeking to be hired somewhere can be refused based on criteria such as sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, age, disability, relationship status, medical history, or political leanings. Hence, at the heart of every background check is a commitment to the anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws set forth through the EEOC. After all, if a background check is conducted with an unfair bias toward the candidate in question, the company suffers severe impairment to its ability to make the best decision for its bottom line.
Naturally, any employer or human resources representative who’s concerned about complying with federal law and choosing the most qualified applicants should be able to trust a background check company to perform its job accordingly. Likewise, the hiring company should be aware of what they may reasonably request in a background check and what to expect to do with the information acquired.
With that in mind, here are a few pointers:
Regarding whatever information you obtain, consider only its relevance to the job.
Perhaps this is obvious, but it warrants reminding. You may not be able to avoid finding out an applicant’s sex, race, or age, since you may need to meet them face-to-face. Also, it’s sometimes necessary to know such facts in order to successfully execute the verification process; for example, many educational institutions, employers, and courts organize their archives by social security number or birth date. Moreover, they may volunteer information about other matters, such as their religion, family situation, or political ideas. Of course, a Catholic high school or a news organization with a specific slant may have more reason to consider certain aspects of a candidate’s personal life than other organizations, but in general, the results of a background check should only be used to determine who among your potential new employees would best the most ideal fit for your needs.
As long as a background check company delivers reliable information free of bias, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you’re not liable for lawsuits accusing you of discrimination. Every background check agency should be able to promise that its business practices are completely in keeping with EEOC laws, and they ought to communicate with you as often as you need to assure you of that.
If you want to completely avoid the risk of discriminatory hiring practices, limit the scope of the verifications.
Just because you can discover a certain item of information doesn’t mean that you must. Obviously, you want to be as thorough as possible in your investigations in order to safeguard your company’s interests, but you needn’t feel obligated to request more information than you actually need. The fewer unnecessary facts you know, the easier it is to make decisions with a clear head and wash your hands of any wrongdoing before the law.
Furthermore, you can actually cut down costs by narrowing the parameters of your orders. QuickBooks figures that background checks may cost anywhere from $25 to $100 per candidate, which can add up quickly. The more extensive the background check, the more it will cost.
Basically, if you don’t need to know things like the applicant’s credit history or where they were working eight years ago, then simply don’t ask. It helps you stay compliant and saves you money.
Along the same vein, another option is to establish a consistent package to order.
Not only does this make it quicker and easier to order background checks, but it means you can totally control what you request. If a certain position, job category, or level of experience requires a corresponding set of questions, make a template that remains the same without regard to any of a candidate’s characteristics as specifically named by the EEOC. You’re far more likely to get in trouble if you order different packages based solely on any of the physical or lifestyle traits protected by federal law.
Always inform an applicant of why you’re not hiring them by providing them a consumer report and a summary of their rights as laid out by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
This is a requirement set forth by the Federal Trade Commission, which allows the applicant to attempt to dispute any incorrect information or defend themselves against something that may initially put them in a negative light—as long as the only reason why you know about of it is because of a background check. If a candidate can see that you aren’t refusing based on discriminatory bias, they can’t submit a legitimate EEOC complaint and argue that it’s wrongful termination, meaning that you’re safe.
Although this can be an arduous process, your background check agency of choice should have procedures in place to aid you with it.
Check the accreditation of the background check company you’re using.
Considering what’s at stake if a background check is not performed in compliance with the stipulations of the EEOC—including, but not limited to, the quality of your company’s goods and services and its reputation among consumers and other potential applicants—you will definitely want to ensure that the background check company in which you place your trust is as committed to keeping the law as you are. Before hiring a background check company, it’s prudent to do a little investigation of your own.
One of the best ways to assure yourself that you’re doing business with a company that will provide the highest quality services is to see if they’re accredited. If they have the approval of the Background Screening Credentialing Council (associated with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners), you know that they’re more than capable of helping you. Smart Screen Technology has earned that very accreditation so that you would have every reason to believe that we’d be the best choice.
When it comes to something as important as EEOC compliance, you should consider a background check agency to be your closest business partner, helping you stay within legal parameters while hunting down all the information that you need to meet your company’s needs. It should be done it quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly, offering you all of the non-discriminatory information as possible about every candidate you’re considering hiring—because that’s what is best for you.