Are Employers Adapting to EEOC Guidance on Employment Background Checks?

Nick Fishman

Nearly 600 human resources professionals opened up to EmployeeScreenIQ about how they use employment background checks to make hiring decisions and their candid feedback is detailed in our just-released, fifth annual survey of U.S. based employers. The new report looks at how companies manage the process of employment screening, their practices concerning Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) guidance, candidates’ self-disclosure of criminal records and how they address adverse findings.

In the past few years, the EmployeeScreenIQ Trends Survey has become a benchmark many employers use to evaluate their background screening policies and practices. This year’s survey provides a unique cross-section of opinions and insights from an assortment of organizations and is a must-read for HR professionals that want to learn about what their industry peers are doing.

Today, we’d like to analyze how employers are adapting to the 2012 EEOC guidance on employers’ use of criminal background checks. Overall, 88% of respondents this year indicated that they’ve adopted the EEOC’s guidance as opposed to just 32% of respondents at the time of last year’s survey. See the charts below to dig further into the details.

Do you perform individualized assessments for candidates with conviction records (so they can explain the circumstances of their records)?

EEOC Criminal Background Checks for Employers

Clearly, employers already had practices in place or are adapting their hiring practices to incorporate the recommendations suggested by the EEOC. We believe the adoption rate will continue to grow in the coming years unless the courts reject the guidance.

It is worth noting that EEOC guidance on individualized assessments is a recommendation, not a mandate. Therefore, those who have not developed a process in this regard are not violating any laws. Even so, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out that demonstrating compliance with this recommendation is the clearest path to insulating yourself from discrimination claims.

How has the adoption of the EEOC’s guidance on employers’ use of criminal background checks affected your hiring process?

EEOC Criminal Background Checks for Employers

While half of all respondents indicated that the EEOC’s guidance has had no impact on their hiring process—and another 12% haven’t adopted the guidance—the remainder are pretty clearly split in their assessment of the guidance. Ten percent said it has had a positive impact but 54% said that it has a negative impact on costs, time-to-fill, clarity, or the candidate experience in general.

How do you perform the individualized assessment?

EEOC Criminal Background Checks for Employers

While no governmental or legal body has yet clarified how individualized assessments are to be conducted (or what the “preferred” method might be), the majority of respondents are using either in-person or telephone interviews. Regardless of how you conduct these assessments, we suggest that you clearly document your policy and process.









Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
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