Background screens will sometimes return results that make a prospective employer hesitate in hiring or continuing to employ the applicant. These results should not necessarily disqualify someone from employment.
We recently reported on the risk of disparate impact when disqualifying applicants based on criminal history. Additionally, employers should not assume that someone committed a crime based solely on an arrest record. Many court systems store records based on name and birthdate (not social security number), so someone who happens to have the same information could mistakenly appear on the report. If there was indeed a conviction, employers should consider its nature and seriousness, how long ago it happened, and if it would have an impact on job performance.
In the current economy, employers should weigh the types of debts listed and if they may be caused by a job loss, high medical bills, or even stolen identity. Occasionally, people fall on hard times and it affects their personal finances, but not necessarily the ability to perform their jobs. Personal bankruptcy should similarly not be an automatic disqualifier from the position. Employees have a number of rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Employers should be familiar with those rights prior to denying someone employment based on his or her credit report.
Of course, there are people for whom background screening results should serve as a red flag. Nextep's HR Professionals review results and coach employers on a case-by-case basis to handle FCRA compliance and the next recommended steps.