Employment Background Check Laws Protect Employers and Job Applicants

If you are an employer, you have reason to be concerned about making wise hiring decisions. The wrong decision can affect the company's reputation and work quality, but an employer can also be held liable for the actions of an employee.

Conversely, if you are a job applicant you may be concerned about privacy issues and how far a potential employer can go when performing background checks. Because of these concerns, there are actually employment background check laws in place to protect both employer and employee.

Today's employers face unique and very complex issues that impact their hiring decisions. Some employers feel inadequate to make such hiring decisions based solely on their own judgment or instincts. There is the matter of drug and alcohol abuse to consider, both of which can cost a company time and money if an employee is discovered to be using or abusing.

The prevalence of sexual predators has resulted in laws requiring criminal background checks, especially when it comes to certain fields of employment. For instance, anyone seeking employment that involves working with or around children must undergo greater scrutiny. School personnel, camp counselors, children's sports coaches, and childcare professionals would fall into this category. Predators are drawn to any job that gives them easy access to children. Criminal background checks are one of the quickest ways to screen out such undesirables.

You can imagine the liability an employer would bear should they provide such easy access to vulnerable children. While these background checks are some protection, they only protect against predators who have previously been caught and charged with such a crime.

Employment background check laws also require verification of identity by means of a driver's license or other picture I.D., as well as a Social Security number or possibly a birth certificate. Heightened security has been required especially since the terrorist acts of 9/11.

But how much is too much when it comes to background checks? How do employment background check laws protect an employee's privacy? It's true that most job applicants have little to hide; however, even if one does have a strike against him in the form of some past criminal offense, the EEOC has in place extensive guidelines regarding the criminal history of any applicant. They must consider such factors as the nature of the offense in combination with the nature of the job.

They must also consider the time lapse between the offense and the current job application. Often an offense is minor and took place when the applicant was barely more than a naive child. It has little to do with the man or woman who filled out the application.

It is a generally known fact that some employers do a Google or Facebook search of job applicants. In this age where information flows free and easy over the Internet, it's difficult to regulate background checking policies.

All in all, a certain degree of background checking can be a protection to all parties involved. But it can be abused. Thus, the privacy laws are ever-changing and evolving to keep pace with our ever-evolving world.

Thank you and May God bless you!

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