Understanding the legality of pre-employment background checks is not something every Human Resources Manager or company owner knows about. That is why it is imperative that you employ a background screening company that knows the ins and outs of how to effectively protect you from bad hires. Understanding what information you will receive, and what it actually means is why choosing a reputable screening company is so important. If you choose a “$19.99 Background” online, you have no idea where the information comes from and there is no human to speak with who can explain it to you.
If you think you are covered, but you are not, it often takes time before your shortcomings will come to light and this often leads employers to have a false sense of security. Chicago Public Schools is coming under fire for their background screening policies of teachers and support staff including custodians, bus drivers, engineers and volunteers. After a report came out last year showing that employees who abused students had criminal histories that should have disqualified them from working with kids, the district spent $3 million to redo their background checks. Since this process began, they have barred more than 250 employees from returning to work this school year.
Schools, like many other employers, would prefer to avoid the disclosure that they hired an individual who went on to commit a crime and this leads us to the #1 issue facing pre-employment background checks, transparency. All too often there is not enough evidence to formally charge these individuals and they are disciplined and given the option of resigning or being fired; most choose to resign. When this individual then applies for a job in a different district, a call is made to confirm their employment records, and nothing can be said about their reason for leaving their position and you would find no warning signs of their behavior. The Human Resources department is well versed in the liability they face should they release any information that is outside of verifying details of employment.
Knowing that missing information, or misleading information can occur in a background check is the first step in preparing your company to handle any situation that may arise.