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Background Checks and EEOC Regulations: What Every Recruiter Needs to Know

Application-for-employmentThough the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has previously focused their efforts on investigations that look at processes for pay increases and promotion efforts, recent strategic plans indicate a renewed effort on hiring screen and criminal background check cases.

Ensure you have good practices and policies in place that are in line with this strategic plan with the following tips, compiled from two sessions at the at the recent Staffing Law Conference: Analyzing EEOC Guidance: Latest Background Check Parameters and Strategies and Keeping Up With the Feds: Enforcement and Regulatory Agendas of Federal Agencies.

Criminal History and Background Check Guidance:

There should be no hard line rules by you or your clients (e.g. “We don’t hire felons.”). You must look at each case on an individual basis and consider the following three aspects:

  • Nature and severity of offense
  • Time since conviction
  • Nature of the job sought

Remember: Asking about criminal history on job applications is no longer acceptable. Questions pertaining to criminal history on the application are considered a barrier to employment, because some people might never move forward to complete the application. Move the background screen as far back into the hiring process as possible.

Before You Source: Questions to Ask:

  1. Do your clients care if a candidate has a criminal background? What are their thoughts as it relates to the severity or time frame in which the crime was completed?
    • If clients say, “Don’t send me people with a criminal background,” educate them on the EEOC regulations. Put language in your contract that says both parties will act in accordance with the law.
    • Work to implement a matrix that looks at the severity of the defense, the time-frame, nature of the job sought, type of employment held since the offence, etc.
  2. Are you going to run your own background checks? If not, who is? Furthermore, what information will you get from the background check? Only request what is relevant for the job, not everything on file.

In order for staffing firms to ensure they are in accordance with EEOC guidelines, it’s important to give a “good faith” effort: always try to do the right thing and develop a program that makes the most sense for you and your clients.

Darcy Horath

About Darcy Horath

As the Marketing Specialist for CareerBuilder’s Staffing & Recruiting Group, Darcy develops marketing content to both examine and highlight the staffing industry. Through her articles, she hopes to shine light on important topics in staffing, such as: candidate attraction and engagement, data and technology to drive business, and empowering employment. She also oversees the Staffing & Recruiting Group’s Facebook and LinkedIn social media pages. Along with marketing, Darcy has a background in sales and public relations and before settling in Chicago, she lived and worked in London, Buenos Aires, Steamboat Springs, and Sydney.


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