Question: Are we allowed to do criminal background checks as part of our hiring policy?
Answer: Appendix A to NCUA’s Part 748 (guidelines for safeguarding member information) states that when developing a security program, the credit union should have procedures in place to safeguard member information, including conducting employee background checks on those employees with responsibilities for or access to member information.
However, while there is no general protected status for convicted criminals, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has warned that they believe that some employers use criminal background checks as a way to weed out minority employees and applicants who tend to have higher conviction rates.
Recently, the EEOC sued two companies over their use of criminal background checks. In one of the lawsuits, the employer fired 88 workers (70 of them African-American) after they failed criminal background checks. Some of these employees had worked for the company for several years without an incident.
The other case involved claims by two African-American job applicants who were denied work, one for a six year old conviction for use of a controlled substance. The EEOC argues that such blanket exclusions from employment are improper because they do not consider the nature of the involved offense and its relevance to the job.
For more information regarding hiring policies please contact an HR attorney or other employment professional.