National Oil & Lube News

May 2017

Digital issues of National Oil & Lube News, the trade magazine for the preventive maintenance industry

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ny to do the searches, or because employee hours are directed to background checks in- stead of more productive company business." "ere are other factors to be considered when deciding whether to use background checks," Roth said. "ere is the potential that the information in the background check report is incorrect which may improperly dis- qualify a good candidate or, conversely, per- mit the hiring of an undesirable candidate." Wulffson added: • Pre-employment background checks cannot always indicate whether an indi- vidual with a problematic past has since reformed and become qualified for the job. • ere is the potential of negatively af- fecting the morale of employees because they may feel that a policy of conducting background checks invades their privacy. "Also," Wulffson said, "if a company does comprehensive background checks, partic- ularly if it does them early in the applica- tion process, it can develop a reputation as a company that invades the privacy of its applicants/employees, and is, therefore, an undesirable place to work. is poor reputa- tion can prevent otherwise strong candidates from applying. is is especially true among Millennials — the 'culture' of the company is very important to members of Generation Y." • Improperly conducted checks could po- tentially violate federal, state or local laws, and monetary penalties for non- compliance with those laws can be signif- icant. ese laws and regulations may be complex and difficult to follow and may require the assistance of legal counsel. "If the background check process elimi- nates a great deal of applicants," Wulffson said, "most of whom are of the same race, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a state agency or an enterpris- ing plaintiff's attorney may claim the compa- ny used the background check as a means to discriminate in the hiring process. "Also, if the company does a background check before a legally compliant notice and consent has occurred, and someone other than the employer does the check, the com- pany may have violated federal law. e Fair Credit Reporting Act, or state equivalents, which carry penalties on their own, may be used as the basis for an invasion of privacy or failure to hire case." • Background check information, especial- ly if taken from social media sites, may not always paint an accurate portrait of an individual, and decisions based on social media may be more susceptible to claims of discrimination. "Keep in mind," Wulffson said, "the em- ployer does not need the applicant's consent to review publicly-available information about the applicant — which can include criminal records, civil filings and social media sites. "However, if the employer does not apply the same level of scrutiny to all applicants or learns personal information about the ap- plicant that cannot be used to make a hiring decision (e.g. religious affiliation, sexual ori- entation, cultural or national origin identi- ty, marital status, disability status, etc.), the company risks a lawsuit for invasion of pri- vacy or discrimination if the applicant is not hired." • Obviously, there is risk and expense in- volved in the use of pre-employment background checks. Still, increasing numbers of small business owners are looking to them as a first line of defense against the potential problems intro- duced each time a new employee is hired. Wulffson summarized his thoughts for a small business owner considering the use of background checks. "Any background check should involve a cost/benefit analysis," he said, "and this re- quires a full understanding of the actual costs and risks. is will usually require consulta- tion with competent employment counsel or experienced human resources professional. "Our advice for an overall best practice is the benefits of a standard background check — i.e. a criminal records check and verifying employment/references — outweighs the burdens. Checking these two areas is not ex- pensive, and the risk to the employer for not doing such a minimal and reasonable check is simply too high. "Credit checks should only be done where legally permissible and relevant to the po- sition. Civil records checks, such as finding cases where the applicant was a plaintiff or a defendant in a past lawsuit, should only be performed for executives or other high pro- file positions. "Finally, social media checks should only be done when social media skills are relevant to the job or the position will be high-profile with the company. Although applicants must be told upfront what background checks are to be done, the checks must be done only af- ter an employment offer has been made, but before employment begins. is provides a system that is legally compliant, as fair as possible to the applicants and protective of the employer's interests." S The digital age has made it easier than ever to conduct pre-employment background checks. There are hundreds of online companies available to conduct searches from the most basic up to the highest level including criminal backgrounds. For more information on how to conduct a background check, log on to: www.howtodobackgroundchecks.org These few are a sampling: www.truthfinder.com www.backgroundalert.com www.beenverified.com 62 NOLN | www.noln.net

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