Welcome to our monthly edition of what’s hot in employee background screening news. If you want to stay up-to-date with background screening, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some of the news items that caught our attention last month.
Connecticut Limits Use of Credit Checks in Employment
A new Connecticut law that took effect on October 1, 2011 (Public Act 11-223) makes it unlawful for most Connecticut employers to require employees or prospective employees to consent to requests for credit reports that contain information about their credit scores, credit account balances, payment history, savings or checking account balances, or account numbers. Connecticut is one of only a few states that have enacted such a law.
National Retail Federation Releases Research on Retailer Use of Background Screenings
Today NRF released its first piece of research on the topic of background screening. We polled retail executives from 96 of the nation’s leading department stores, mass merchants, discounters, drug stores, grocery stores and restaurants to examine their use of background screenings before and during the application and employment process.
The findings? Nearly all retailers – a whopping 97% – utilize background screenings in some form during the application, hiring and employment process, according to the survey. Additionally, a majority of retailers surveyed report that human resources (56%) and loss prevention departments (39.4%) are most often charged with criminal background screenings and similarly are the same departments that can override employment decisions to ensure a fair and open process for all applicants and employees.
Criminal Records May Not Appear on Background Checks in Texas
Background checks used to screen people in crucial occupations may not turn up criminal records because of gaps in the Texas records database, a new state audit shows.
Prosecutors and courts have failed to submit to the state disposition records on about 1 in 4 arrests in 2009, the audit found. While that is a slight improvement from a 2006 audit, it still means agencies doing the checks can’t rely on the Department of Public Safety Computerized Criminal History System for complete information, the audit found.
California Joins Other States in Placing Restrictions on Employers’ Use of Credit Checks
On October 10, 2011, Governor Brown signed into legislation Assembly Bill No. 22, which generally prohibits employers from using an applicant’s or employee’s credit history in making employment decisions. Prior to this legislation, employers could request a credit report for employment purposes if they provided prior written notice of the request to the person for whom the report was sought. Assembly Bill 22 significantly changes this landscape by prohibiting employers from using credit reports for employment purposes unless the report is used for one of the limited purposes enumerated by the statute.
Using Arrest and Conviction Records for Hiring. What Does the EEOC Say?
The Peace Corps asked the EEOC for an opinion on the legality of its use of conviction and arrest records to screen potential volunteers. In response, the EEOC published an informal opinion letter, which offers guidance for employers who are considering using conviction or arrest as part of their screening processes.
Hot Topics in Pre-employment Screening (two-part series on pre-employment screening)
An increasing number of employers are conducting some form of pre-employment screening on job applicants. Employers are researching not only a candidate’s educational qualifications and prior job history, but also a candidate’s criminal history, credit history and online presence. At the same time, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and various states have begun scrutinizing the legality of some of these practices.
Legal Issues Surrounding Social Media Background Checks
The legal risks of making employment decisions using the Internet have become a real concern for businesses, especially when you consider that 54% of employers surveyed in 2011 acknowledged using the Internet to research job candidates. The actual number of employers using the Internet is probably higher, and sometimes companies may not even be aware that their employees are researching job candidates and factoring that information into their evaluations. This is yet another reason to establish an internal procedure for researching job candidates, and communicating your procedure to employees who are participating in the employment process.