Background Screening Trends to Watch

Background Screening Trends to Watch

Ban the Box:

According to the National Employment Law Project “American workers are treading water in the worst labor market since the Great Depression. To keep afloat, U.S. workers need strong policies and protections to support their ability to find work—their lifeline to economic and social stability. Yet an estimated 65 million U.S. adults who have criminal records often confront barriers that prevent even the most qualified from securing employment”.

There is a growing national movement to remove the question "Have you ever been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor?" from job applications – also known as “Ban the Box".  The Ban-the-Box movement will continue to be a trend in 2014 as more states, municipalities, and private sector employers adopt this practice.  The rationale for this is that screening out job applicants with criminal records thus excludes a much larger share of African American and Latino candidates. The disparate impact approach ensures that practices that appear to be “race-neutral” on their face—such as no-hire policies against people with criminal records—are prohibited.  Ban the box laws do not negate the employer’s requirement to perform background checks nor does it “require” employers to hire people with criminal records. The Ban-the-Box practice merely requires the question “Have you ever been convicted?” to be removed from the employment application and that the criminal history be evaluated later in the hiring process.

Social Media:

While a hot topic a few years ago, expect this trend to fade as more states implement tighter restrictions prohibiting employers from requiring applicants to reveal their social networking passwords.  Additionally, this is unchartered waters for many employers and the potential for litigation is huge.  However, expect the use of this tool to pick-up as it relates to recruiting. According to the Society for Human Resources (SHRM)

77 percent of all employers surveyed are “increasingly using social networking sites for recruiting, primarily as a way to attract passive job candidates.”

Employer Do It Yourself Background Checks:

One bad hiring decision can cause legal and financial problems if the employee is dangerous, unqualified and/or dishonest and a background check would have raised a red flag. On the other hand one improperly conducted background check can equally cause you legal and financial problems.

The EEOC has expressed a concern about the accuracy of criminal records. Given the millions of background checks done by the screening industry, the number of complaints is extremely small. However, just one inaccuracy can cost someone a job and lead to a lawsuit.  First Intel Group as well as several other background firms have adopted as a best practice that all criminal information must be confirmed as being accurate and up-to-date before being provided to an employer.

Given the need for employers to exercise due diligence in hiring and at the same time comply with hiring laws, employers can expect to see an increase in legal actions.  Lawsuits for failing to conduct proper checks will become more prevalent, including class-action lawsuits.

First Intel Group is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business. For information on our various background check services and tools, please contact us at


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