State Budget Cuts May Lead to Increase in Ex-Convicts Applying for Jobs

employee screening, employee credit checkAcross the U.S., the economic downturn has been negatively affecting state and local law enforcement budgets. Police and sheriff’s departments have cut staff; jails are laying off guards and prisons are releasing prisoners early because of overcrowding.

For employers who are hiring workers, an increase in ex-convicts in the local population could mean a different type of job applicant. Perhaps this is a good time to review criminal background check procedures.

A variety of state laws make it difficult for regional and national employers to stay compliant, but smaller businesses need to be concerned only with their local and state laws, as well as Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, before deciding what is appropriate for their situation.

The EEOC’s concern is that criminal background checks have a disparate effect on minorities’ hiring history. According to the EEOC, studies show that “some employers make selection decisions based on names, arrest and conviction records…all of which may disparately impact people of color.”

The important thing is that employers are vigilant about doing pre-employment screening and background checks, and to conduct them fairly, as a higher number of unemployed, former convicted criminals are presumably looking for work. Establishing a justifiable business need is the first step. Obtaining applicants’ approval, per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, prior to conducting employee credit checks is also vital to staying within the letter of the law.

Balance your need to keep your other employees, customers and business safe from harm with the rights of your applicants, and exercise good judgment. Remember, 36 states hold employers liable for the negligent hiring of individuals with violent backgrounds.

You can be assured of compliance when you use a reputable, professional employee screening company, such as CriminalData.com. Our extensive experience, secure processes and excellent reputation for professional service mean you may screen prospective employees with confidence.

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