What happens when someone applies for a job and the background check flags a previous arrest or criminal conviction? Should you automatically decline the application or is there more for you to consider? These can be tough questions, particularly when the applicant is otherwise a great fit for the position or the rental unit. Your answer might depend on what the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also known as EEOC, stipulates as fair hiring practices.

The EEOC is the government agency that oversees discriminatory actions that fall under federal protection in the business world. The EEOC helps monitor, enforce and educate companies about fair hiring practices. The subject of criminal histories affecting applicants is a substantial issue, one that the EEOC has spent a lot of time investigating — and the findings are telling.

When asking if having criminal history means not getting the job, there’s a difference between what should happen and what could happen.

Why You Shouldn’t Make Assumptions About An Applicant’s Past

Based on a 2011 EEOC testimonial, one out of three Americans, or 92 million according to Department of Justice statistics, has some sort of criminal history. However, many of the arrests stem from minor infractions that do not lead to jail time and are nonviolent in nature. You may ask yourself why so many individuals have arrest records. After all, you may know plenty of people that have never gotten into trouble with the law and are free any criminal entanglement with the criminal justice system. Well, the folly of youth might have something to do with it.

In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics composed a national study and found that by the age of 23, an average 30 percent of Americans had been arrested at least once, although those arrests did not necessarily reflect serious crimes or end with jail time. Looking beyond age, it’s common knowledge that most people make mistakes, a fact that even the federal government understands. While these statistics demonstrate that the majority of potential employees and tenants do not carry major criminal baggage, the numbers also show why applicant screening is so important.

Background Screening Decision Matrix  Free HR Template

How VeriFirst Can Help You

Every year, VeriFirst helps hundreds of businesses and individuals vet appropriate job applicants. Keeping your concerns and needs met, while satisfying EEOC and other federal compliances standards, you can be sure that we will help provide sensitive, effective background screening for your company.

Sure, people make mistakes and you do not want to inherit a problem. However, plenty of people with a criminal history are looking for a fresh start and have plenty to offer. Make sure you know the difference and bring VeriFirst into the fold and, eventually, a flawless risk management solution. 

If there is a criminal background or arrest, our trained representatives will take every measure to treat each candidate as an applicant first, before making premature judgments. There is a lot of potential out in the world. Do not let preconceived notions keep you closed off to great employees because of a misunderstood reporting. Let us check it out, give you the information you need and help you find the right person, right now.

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