5 Things to Consider When Hiring Candidates with a Criminal Background.

Hiring candidates with a criminal background may be a tough gig, but people make mistakes. Whether or not their age, economic gain, or peer pressure were involved, certain factors can contribute to an applicant having a criminal past. Their lapse in judgment could result in a difficult time gaining employment, especially if an employment background check is going to be conducted. If adverse information is reported on a potential job applicant, the employer should sit down with the candidate and go over certain factors before making a final employment decision.

1) How long has it been since the crime occurred?

A federally compliant background check will only show criminal convictions that have occurred within the last 7 years. Unfortunately, some consumer reporting agencies will report records older than the 7 years old, which is a liability to employers (using outdated information). If an employer receives a criminal conviction on a background check that occurred within the last 7 years, they must still go over the information with the employee. If it is determined that enough time has passed (without any other convictions) than their criminal activity should not have an adverse effect on their new employment.

2) Has there been a pattern of repeat offenses?

We have all heard the saying “fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you” this can certainly be true for past criminal activity. If an applicant has a pattern of criminal activity or of not satisfying the terms of the court, than an employer should think twice about hiring them and taking on the added liability.

3) Is the crime specific to the job being sought?

We constantly educate employers on conducting searches specific to the job being sought (i.e. driving records for a delivery drivers; drug testing for a safety position). The philosophy behind this is to only disqualify candidates that have committed a crime specific to the position they are applying for (i.e. multiple Driving Under the Influence (DUI) convictions for a delivery driver; or a fraud conviction for a finance manager).

4) Did the candidate disclose their criminal history?

With “ban the box” laws sweeping across the U.S., employers now more than ever need to understand when they can inquire about a candidate’s previous criminal activity. Currently, 12 states and over 100 cities have adopted “ban the box” laws, which requires an employer to wait until after the job interview takes place or after a conditional job offer is made before inquiring about previous criminal activity. If a candidate does not disclose previous criminal activity to the employer and a background check reveals that they have a criminal record, all bets are off. Integrity is everything. Conversely, if a candidate is truthful and discloses any and all criminal activity then within reason they should be considered for the position.

5) Will hiring candidates with a criminal background be more of a liability when it comes to compliance?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has come down extremely hard on organizations that do not consider any of the factors we discussed when making an employment decision.

Do not be held liable for unfair hiring practices.

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