Senior communities may fall through the cracks under ban-the-box laws

nursing homes and retirement care facilities are supposed to conduct background checks on the nurses and healthcare aides that work with the elderly, senior living retirement communities have different requirements under the law. Independent senior living communities are those communities in which residents live in their own homes within a specified neighborhood, and meet for various activities and events. Those who operate independent living communities do not always have to be licensed, and do not fall under the same regulatory guidelines as those homes or communities in which residents require higher levels of daily care. The concern is that, because independent living community employees are not necessarily required by federal law to pass background checks, new ban-the-box laws — especially those that affect private employers — may require changes in the hiring process, and those changes could affect the safety of the residents. If communities are unable to ask applicants about convictions for things such as elderly abuse or sexual assault immediately, they waste resources during the hiring process by speaking with candidates that could not be seriously considered for the position for reasons of public safety. Any hiring change requirements would greatly vary from state to state, and even city to city, as some states’ ban-the-box laws apply to private businesses and some do not. On the other hand, independent living communities may be able to wriggle around parts of the ban-the-box laws by claiming a “business necessity,” or that residents must be kept safe by requiring employees to pass screening processes. Again, that would vary by city or state, but contact with vulnerable residents and public safety are both reasons to claim a “business necessity,” according to the American Seniors Housing Association. Owners would need to consider, however, that those convicted of non-violent crimes may be eligible for positions, and that they should still be considered for available roles whether their conviction is brought to light immediately in the hiring process or later on. In order to ensure retirement communities are following their state’s laws, community owners or directors should work with an employment attorney when creating new hiring policies amidst ban-the-box laws.]]>

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