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Employers' casual reliance on background checks: not a good idea

If you're a Connecticut employer poised to respond to the results of a would-be employee's background check that reveals a past criminal conviction, there's no problem in simply stamping a "reject" rejoinder on his or her job application, right?

Or wrong?

"Tread carefully" rather than simply acting with quick resolve in that situation, notes a recent overview on background screening and its workplace implications.

Here's why: "Ever-changing screening laws" are popping up all over the country in response to a growing perception that unfairness still results for select job applicants in the hiring process.

One quick example of inequity surfaces every time a job candidate's criminal conviction leading to elimination from hiring consideration arguably has no connection to the job being sought or that individual's ability to do it.

That and additional concerns focused on fairness have been progressively raising red flags for employers in recent years. Hiring managers are confronting material changes in public attitudes and administrative/judicial responses when it comes to defending their job-denial determinations.

And defend them, they must, when a rejection ostensibly owes solely to a criminal history.

An employer seeking to forgo a hiring based on adverse information revealed in a background check "must be prepared to … explain why a criminal conviction should disqualify the applicant from performing that job," notes one commentator in the above-cited article.

It is often the case that job applicants are legally granted full access to background check results and must be timely notified of the reasons for any adverse actions taken by a prospective employer. They can also dispute findings and, in some instances, file legal challenges.

Screening protocols can be "complex" and "tricky," notes the aforementioned overview, which can lead to material questions and concerns for both employers and job candidates. An experienced employment law attorney can provide guidance in a given case.

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