On September 24, the EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) once again affirmed the importance of implementing its guidance related to specially designed individualized assessments and targeted screening processes. This reaffirmation took place when they announced a settlement agreement with furniture retailer Rooms To Go.
The agreement between the EEOC and the Rooms To Go company resolved race discrimination allegations that had been brought by an applicant whose employment offer was rescinded based on the company’s employment screening and background check policies.
Employers Must Screen in Compliance with EEOC Laws
The Rooms To Go company was not conducting targeted screening, but had been using blanket exclusions regarding criminal convictions with persons seeking employment including this applicant. The company has since removed questions related to criminal conviction from its employment applications. Rooms To Go is also now postponing criminal history inquiries until a later point in the hiring process.
These measures will help to ensure applicants are considered and selected based on merit and qualifications instead of excluded based upon criminal history. The Rooms To Go corporation has also agreed to provide training for its staff based on the revised criminal background checking procedures. They will also be offering mandatory staff bias training and annual refreshers after receiving the initial training.
These measures reinforce the significance and importance of employers staying in compliance with EEOC laws related to employment screening. Some of the most important components of these laws include:
It’s crucial for employers to conduct individualized assessments based upon nine key factors before final employment decisions are made regarding criminal history data. This can be accomplished by inviting applicants to provide insights related to context and/or submit additional information related to criminal convictions.
A Focused, Targeted Screening Process
It is crucial to use targeted screening to ensure that just job-related criminal convictions are considered. There should be room for leniency when the criminal action is not relevant or a threat to the position being sought.
The rules and guidance offered by the EEOC also discourage companies from creating general catch-all policies related to criminal history and employment screening. For example, stating that a felony conviction on an applicant’s record would automatically exclude them from all jobs.
Employers Should Take an Individualized Approach to Screening
This recent EEOC enforcement action related to targeted screening should serve as a reminder to all businesses of the guidance issued by the EEOC in 2012. This includes the important individualized assessment in the employment screening process. When considering and evaluating criminal history information, it is always best to take a nuanced approach and make decisions that are a fit for each unique situation.
Employers should use targeted screening and take the time to review their own background check procedures and policies to assess their level of compliant employment screening with these important laws. Outsourcing background checks related to employment screening to a professional screening company can help to ensure it is conducted in compliance with current laws.
Disclaimer Statement: All information presented is never intended as legal advice and is for information purposes only.
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