Background Checks: Not Only a Right, but a Responsibility

Repost from Feb. 20, 2015 (Written by Butch Hite)

Over the past 27 years in the employment screening business I have heard all of the reasons companies do not do background checks on prospective employees. Most disturbing is when an employer tells me that they cannot afford it.

So how much is it worth to a company to protect its employees, customers, guests, visitors or vendors who may be on their property or at their facility from the individual with a history of violent behavior? How much is it worth to keep the sex offender from working around unsuspecting and vulnerable children? How much is it worth to keep the individual who has a lengthy history of theft, from stealing from your company? What about the exposure to a charge of negligent hiring? And what about the opportunity to hire the best candidate in the market, how much is that worth?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the Federal standard by which all employers must abide by. The FCRA allows you the right to conduct a background check on any prospective employee:

  1. You have the right to know if you applicant has a criminal history.
  2. You have the right to check an individual’s driving record, if they are going to be operating your company vehicle.
  3. You have the right to confirm that the highest level of education listed on the application is correct.
  4. You have the right to contact the previous employer and ask about his/her previous work history.
  5. You have a right to know that an individual has a current professional license, and is in good standing, for the type of work they may be performing at your facility.

In Arizona you as the employer also have the protection of the blacklisting statue (ARS 23-1361), which states in part, “An employer who in good faith provides information requested by a prospective employer about the reason for termination of a former employee or about the job performance, professional conduct or evaluation of a current or former employee is immune from civil liability for the disclosure or the consequences of providing the information”.

Always check with your legal counsel prior to making any changes in your hiring policies and procedures. The FCRA allows you the opportunity to check the information on which an applicant has provided to you, and confirm your good judgment in that hiring decision. 

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