The benefits and risks of rescreening your employees
Pre-employment background screening is a common practice that helps employers make informed decisions about who they hire. A new issue is whether companies should conduct periodic background checks on their current workforce.
There are advantages to screening existing employees, even if they have only been with the company for a short period. As an initial background check would not account for crimes committed while a hire is employed, rescreening even tenured staff can be a means to protect the workplace.
There are other reasons to maintain updated records on your employees via continuous background screening. For example, a worker promoted or reassigned to a new position may have different responsibilities not covered by a previous background check. Rescreening demonstrates an employer's due diligence that they've selected the right candidate.
Meanwhile, many organizations will carry out background checks on current employees following a workplace accident. The idea here is to prevent future accidents and resolve any issues with insurance companies and the legal department.
While rescreening is allowed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the practice is not without risks for the employer. If there is no evidence of employee misconduct, companies must obtain that person's consent before a rescreening takes place, as per Fair Credit Reporting Act guidelines. Failure to get consent could result in individual or class action lawsuit against the employer.
Companies must also consider EEOC scrutiny when a background screening disproportionately impacts one group of employees. In 2015, BMW Manufacturing Co. paid $1.6 million to alleged victims of race discrimination to resolve a lawsuit filed by the EEOC.
The suit claimed that BMW discriminated against African-American employees at its Spartanburg, South Carolina, facility after switching a contractor that handled logistics. The new contractor was required to perform criminal checks on new logistics applicants as well as existing logistics employees who re-applied to keep their current jobs.
According to the EEOC suit, 80 percent of incumbent workers denied re-employment were African-American. Since BMW did not have a clear business necessity for excluding the incumbent employees, the EEOC declared the rescreening illegal and sued on behalf of the workers who lost employment.
Ultimately, employers should weigh the benefits and disadvantages of periodic rescreening before making a decision whether or not to use the practice.
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