Weekly HR News - Hiring - Pre-employment Background Checks

Weekly HR News - Hiring

Pre-employment Background Checks
Updated 3/25/14

When hiring a new employee the city may need to request additional information in order to make an informed decision.  Some of that information may include requesting credit reports and criminal records checks.  And in some cases, as with police officers, background checks are a requirement before hiring.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employers must obtain permission in getting a credit or criminal background check.  In addition, if any of the information is used in the decision making process, the city is required to notify the applicant to give them the opportunity to dispute any incorrect information.  More information on notice requirements can be found on the Bureau of Consumer Protection website at http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/bus08-using-consumer-reports-what-employers-need-know.

In addition, KRS 335B states that even if an applicant has been convicted of a crime, they cannot be automatically disqualified for public employment, which includes employment with a city.  The only exceptions are when the crime is considered a felony, high misdemeanor, a misdemeanor for which a jail sentence may be imposed or if the conviction “directly relates to the position of employment sought ..." And even then it is not an automatic disqualification, as an employer can still hire if they believe the person has been rehabilitated.  

EEOC violations can also be a possibility when using background checks in hiring decisions.  Follow EEOC guidelines to be certain that you are not using convictions as a basis to refrain from hiring someone, especially in regards to a person’s race or national origin.  For more information on avoiding EEOC violations when using criminal background checks, see the EEOC website at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm.

Keep in mind that any information used to make a hiring decision must be related to the job and the job description.  When you must make a hiring decision based on information from any type of background check, make sure that you work with your city attorney to be certain you are making the right decision for all involved. 

For questions on hiring or other personnel matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower with the KLC Legal Department.