Pre-employment screening doesn’t end once the background check is complete. When a background check returns criminal records, employers must decide how they will consider this information.
As a best practice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission encourages employers to conduct an individualized assessment of applicants with criminal histories. “Individualized assessment” is an employer’s careful consideration of each background check report and any criminal record to determine if the information is relevant to the position before making any employment decisions based on those records. This assessment not only ensures compliance with applicable laws, but also helps employers better understand the applicant and his or her personal history. (For additional guidance, refer to Best Practices for Employers Considering Criminal Backgrounds For Hiring). In addition, some state and local laws mandate (e.g., Los Angeles and New York City) an individualized assessment before an applicant is disqualified based on criminal history. To assist employers in this best practice, Checkr marks criminal records with a “CONSIDER” notation in its background check reports.
When presented with a “CONSIDER” report, employers should keep three important tips in mind:
Look Beyond the Offense
While it would be easy to apply categorical rules based on criminal offenses, no two cases -- or applicants -- are truly alike. Incorporating the nature and gravity of the offense, the time that has passed since the offense was committed, as well as the nature of the job, is essential to an individualized assessment.
Refine Your Hiring Matrix
Refine your company’s hiring matrix (also called an “adjudication matrix”) to account for different employment positions. Different jobs entail different responsibilities. For example, in some positions, minor offenses are irrelevant to an applicant’s ability to perform the job and should not impact the hiring decision. Incorporating these considerations into your matrix will result in fairer and more compliant hiring practices. That said, your matrix should not be the final word on your decision.
Consider Rehabilitation Efforts
Job programs, training classes, and employment histories can be crucial factors for understanding the steps an applicant has taken to remedy his or her previous criminal history. These programs are often the best way to see how an applicant has grown from experience and could be ready for a position at your company so make sure you consider such rehabilitation efforts as part of your individualized assessment.
Conducting an individualized assessment with proper protocol may seem like a lot of work, but the quality of your hiring process benefits significantly. In addition to minimizing litigation risk, thoughtful reviews of applicants strengthens your workforce and helps you meet your hiring goals.