Hiring mistakes can cost your company time and money in lost productivity. Having a qualified talent manager is key to avoiding snarls that could result in a lawsuit.
1. Don’t use personally identifying information.
An individual’s racial or ethnic background cannot be used as part of the hiring process. It’s illegal to look into and consciously pursue information about an individual’s race, sexual identity, religious beliefs, or involvement in groups that may reveal that information.
Social media screening, while meant to weed out non-performers and to root out untruthful information about job performance and tenure, can get into sticky territory. The Society for Human Resources Management suggests using a third-party screening company that will review social media and report only job-related information.
Do establish a company-wide procedure for dealing with social media issues during and after the hiring process. While involvement in crime, drug use, and other red flags are often visible in social media, hiring managers should tread carefully to avoid stepping on free speech rights.
2. Pre-existing medical conditions may not disqualify.
Even if the job advertised requires some physical work, hiring managers may not request medical background information from an applicant during the hiring process. This information may only be broached after a conditional offer has been made.
Do consider ways that accommodations may be made to hire a person who is qualified for the job but has certain medical limitations, either physical or mental. Programs exist to assist, such as the Job Accommodation Network, and there may be tax advantages to making the hire.
3. Do abide by background check notification rules.
Notify the applicant that a financial background report will be used in the hiring process and get his or her express permission. Be clear about the personal information that will be included in the background check. Many employers use financial data, including loan status and credit ratings, but you must justify using this information.
There must be a logical connection between pulling financial data and the position they’re applying for. Further, if you reject an applicant on the basis of poor financial management or the information in his or her report, you’re required to provide him a copy and an opportunity to rebut or correct information it contains.
Don’t make the common mistake that several companies have been caught and fined for: noncompliance with the FCRA law on background checks. Its requirements include a separate page for permission to conduct the background check and the notification process.
4. Don’t reject a candidate immediately on the basis of a conviction.
Weigh criminal background checks. About half of all adults have some sort of arrest history, thanks to the crime fighting theme of the 1990s. While discriminating against a person for having served time, it’s going to be difficult to find someone who doesn’t have some sort of rap sheet.
Do know your state’s laws about hiring those with criminal histories, as many are specifying which convictions may be used as grounds for rejecting a candidate. If you reject one candidate for the job but hire another with a similar background, your company could be sued for discrimination. Most states with these laws only allow discrimination if the conviction is directly related to the duties entailed in the job.
Arrest records may not be used to bypass a job applicant, according to the EEOC. Individuals may be caught up in police “sweeps” to quell crowds that follow events like a sports championship or those who are on the street after a bar brawl. Arrests do not equal convictions or even participation in a criminal event.
5. Do verify information found on background checks.
Mixups with names are not uncommon, and record keeping is not always as accurate as we like to think. Job-seekers should do their own checks on their personal driving, credit, and credentials reports prior to applying to ensure their records are complete and accurate. Potential employers must seek feedback from applicants to ensure that they have the correct information.
Don’t assume that records are 100 percent accurate. While many experts strongly advocate for hiring a professional to do background checks (removing some of the responsibility from the company’s personnel department), hiring managers should double-check sources. One reason is to ensure that state laws are followed. Also, some criminal convictions may not be reported from local courts to state courts. Address verification is also important, to ensure that all sources are checked, such as out-of-state driving records.