Do You Conduct Background Checks? Should You?

It's not unusual for a business to ask prospective employees if they have a criminal record, but a recent warning by the Equal Employment opportunities Commission (EEOC) says businesses should reconsider that practice.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the EEOC says checking criminal histories can open the company to a charge of discrimination.

The warning follows an April announcement that employers cannot deny applicants a job only because they have a criminal past -- but the EEOC did not ban criminal background checks.

The EEOC said the best way for employers to approach the issue of a prospect's criminal background is to take into account:

* How long ago the crime was committed
* What type of crime it was
* How the crime relates to the job the person is applying for

The EEOC also suggested employers give job applicants an opportunity to explain both the circumstances of the crime and any rehabilitation.

More specifically the EEOC suggests employers:

* Remove from job applications the question, Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
* Reexamine company policies that prevent hiring of those with criminal backgrounds
* Record and document all reasons for employment decisions

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