EEOC proposes ban on retail background checks

pre-employment screening industry, as the EEOC looks to ban criminal background checks on job applicants and current employees in the restaurant industry, as part of the applicant background check. EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrian stated in a press release regarding this proposal on employment verification: “We had the opportunity to add to our knowledge of this issue and learn about the practical ways employers have been able to balance business concerns with the need to ensure that employment practices are fair and non-discriminatory.” Heads and spokespersons from several social agencies advised the Commission of the barriers of arbitrary hiring restrictions for convicted criminals re-entering the workforce. Amy Solomon, the co-chair of the Department of Justice’s Reentry Council heads a group to examine all aspects of individuals with criminal records with three main goals:

  • Make communities safe from recidivism and victimization
  • Assist people returning from jail or prison to become productive citizens
  • Reduce the direct and collateral costs of incarceration and saving tax dollars
The Commission was also warned of the unreliability of criminal record databases and proliferation of companies offering “instant” background checks that often contain inaccurate or incomplete information without providing explanatory details. The National Retail Federation, supported by a dozen other groups, sent a letter to the commission urging them to reject the proposal. A portion of the letter states, “We are companies and trade associations representing businesses that have a critical need to protect the safety of people and property in workplaces across the United States. One of the most important ways to create safe working environments is for employers, principals and volunteer organizations to be able to conduct criminal background checks of employees, independent contractors and volunteers.” “We understand the frustration some have in finding employment, especially in a time of national economic stress, and we also appreciate the strong desire to reintegrate former prisoners into American society,” the letter said. “However, attempts to ease unemployment frustration or reentry desires should not come at the expense of keeping people and businesses safe from physical or financial harm.” What’s important to remember is that while there can be unreliability in some databases, and it is true that many companies offering “instant background checks” or “free background checks” can provide false and misleading information, that is only one side of the story. For every incapable company, there is a Mind Your Business, Inc. – a reliable, cost-effective, customer-orientated business which can suit your background check needs. The step the EEOC is trying to take here may have a meaningful basis, but they are going about it the wrong way. Don’t forgo background checks completely, instead focus on removing the unreliable and incapable companies out there offering a poor background check service. It will be interesting to see how this proposal progresses, and we will be sure to keep you informed.]]>

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