Does the ‘Ban the Box’ Movement Affect the Executive Background Check Process?


You may have already heard about the initiative known as the motion to “Ban the Box.” The idea behind this is to offer all job applicants a fair chance at an employment opportunity, but does it change the executive background check process?  We take a look at what companies like Corporate Resolutions have found.


A Misconception to Clear Up Regarding ‘Ban the Box’ and Background Checks


Even if you have heard of this campaign in the news, you might want further understanding of how it affects the job search and recruitment process. The slogan “Ban the Box” refers to a push to remove the “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” checkbox from job applications. This conviction history question often pertains to felonies for which employment candidates spent time in prison. However, many employers also use the conviction history checkbox to determine a person’s character via disclosure of misdemeanors or traffic violations.


Prospective employees possibly think this means hiring managers will never have access to criminal records. Employers might have fears about potential non-compliance charges if they proceed with the criminal portion of an executive background check. However, even without the conviction checkbox on a job application, employers can still obtain permission to investigate anyone who applies for a position within their companies.


Remove the Checkbox But Carry on with Screening


You could perceive the advocacy toward removing the conviction history checkbox as a step toward enforcement of the 2012 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, which includes provisions for keeping a job applicant’s skills, abilities, experience and other attributes a priority over any crimes they may have regretted committing. At the same time, employers do have the right to conduct executive background checks according to what is perceived fair based on laws that outline how information about potential employees can be used.


Concerning convictions, employers may still ask about them. However, the move toward waiting until further along in the hiring process is becoming widely accepted versus forcing a one-size-fits-all hiring solution that might cause some qualified employees to see no hope of reform upon entering life “on the outside” after prison.


How a Lawful Executive Background Check Works


Usually, an employer requests that job applicants sign forms that grant a company permission to conduct criminal history checks on a person. The same procedure is used if an employer wants to investigate a prospective employee’s credit history and social media accounts. In most cases, employers must only request information that is publically available. However, even access to private information gained via permission from a job candidate must be only used for determining employability.


Any personal data obtained must also be done in a way that does not increase risk of a security breach. For instance, employers cannot ask for social media account passwords and are not allowed to “friend” job applicants just to find out what they post to friends and family.


Employers also must only ask for information related to skills, trustworthiness, experience, education and the like. Furthermore, they cannot delve into a person’s religious affiliation, treat an applicant differently based on age, or discriminate based on race or other factors not directly related to employment.


Fine Line Between Truth Seeking and Discrimination


When carrying out executive background checks, employers usually have to learn where the line is while on a quest for truth about who potential employees are and privacy violations or discrimination. In the case of requesting permission to conduct criminal background checks, this may also seem discriminatory according to people who have prior convictions.


Debates continue concerning how to handle employment candidates who have incarceration records. However, delaying executive background checks until an employer has at least interviewed a person might seem more reasonable than just asking that potential hire to check a conviction box on an application.


Come time for an employer to find out about an arrest or time spent behind bars, the hirability of that candidate usually depends on the severity of loss and damage resulting from an unlawful incident. Relevance of some crimes also might matter. For instance, a company might want to know if a potential investment partner or future CEO ever embezzled corporate funds or committed identity theft to win a management position.


Companies also typically strive to provide a safe workplace. Therefore, they also might turn down applicants with a history of sexual harassment or refuse to hire anyone with assault convictions.

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