Maryland employers need to know employee screening laws

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 69 percent of all employers conduct a criminal background check on prospective employees. While the vast majority of background checks are not conducted until a job offer is made, 4 percent of background checks are conducted as soon as an application is received. Although such background checks are intended as due diligence, employers are restricted regarding the type of information they review.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that employers should consider the nature of an offense, how long ago it occurred and the type of job being applied before determining if a background check is legal and relevant. Additionally, the EEOC says that background checks should not be conducted until a job offer is made as they may inadvertently disqualify minorities at a higher rate if they are done before making a formal job offer.

There are 12 states that currently ban a background check before an offer is made due to the recommendation from the EEOC. Additionally, employers must tell a prospective employee that a background check is being run before it is conducted in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Employers that do not follow the law regarding background checks could be taken to court.

An employee has the right to privacy to a reasonable extent. If an employer is running a background check, it must be done to ensure that the employee can do the job or will not do or say anything to harm the reputation of the company. An employer who has questions about background checks or other areas of employment law might benefit from having their hiring and firing polices reviewed by an attorney.

Source: Nightly Business Report, “Screening job candidates online? Know the laws“, Jesse Emspak, August 01, 2014

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