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EEOC: Overusing Background Checks May Lead to Discrimination

Posted Aug 12, 2010 2:58 PM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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With advances in technology, it's getting easier for hiring managers to conduct background checks on would-be employees.

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is warning employers to be careful about how they use the information they find, especially if checks into criminal or credit histories have a disparate impact on protected minorities.

"Our sense is that the problem is snowballing because of the technology allowing these checks to be done with a fair amount of ease," Carol Miaskoff, assistant legal counsel at the EEOC, tells the Associated Press.

As the job market becomes more competitive, prospective employers are screening out people who have gone through bankruptcy or have had court judgments or other credit problems, issues that are more common during the recession.

The EEOC tells the AP that if employers consider criminal history, they must also consider the nature of the job, the seriousness of the offense and how long ago the incident occurred. "For example, it may make sense to disqualify a bank employee with a past conviction for embezzlement, but not necessarily for a DUI," the story says.

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