Understanding Background Check Requirements and Complying with EEOC as an Employer

Understanding Background Check Requirements and Complying with EEOC as an Employer

If you’re hiring a new employee, and require a background check, there are a few key components you need to know.

Ban the Box

As an employer in the State of Minnesota, Ban the Box simply requires an employer to wait until later in the hiring process — at the interview stage or a when a conditional job offer has been extended — before asking the applicant about their criminal record or conducting a criminal background check.  The Ban the Box legislation passed by the State Legislature required all employers in Minnesota to remove the box asking about criminal convictions from all applications.

No Blanket Policies

You cannot have a policy that makes blanket statements like “No Felony.”  Every employee must have their criminal history examined carefully against the criteria for the job.  This doesn’t mean you have to hire felons.  It simply requires that in order to exclude a candidate based on their criminal history, it must be relevant to the job.  For example, a driving offense is relative to a driving position, not a receptionist position.

Do not ask about Medical History

As an employer, it’s only human that you want to know as much as you can about your future employee. After all, the more information you have, the better hiring decision you can make, right? Wrong. There are certain pieces of information that you’re not allowed to ask about until you’ve offered the potential employee a job, and medical history is one of those pieces of information.

Be Careful You are not Discriminating

If you make a judgment based on someone’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or age, for example, you could be liable for a lawsuit on behalf of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. When you’re asking questions about your potential employee’s background, make sure that you aren’t making any decisions about hiring or not hiring that candidate based on personal information such as the above-mentioned factors.

Obtain Written Permission

Before you actually initiate the background check, your potential new hire must sign and give written permission that the results could influence your decision regarding whether or not to hire her/him. This will save you legal grief if your check does affect your hiring and the candidate objects. It also lets the potential new hire know that you are serious about hiring the best candidates possible for your position.

Follow Proper Protocol after Receiving a Negative Report

If you do find something negative in your potential hire’s background check, you need to provide them with a copy of the background check and a “Summary of Rights.” If the candidate feels like a mistake has been made, the summary will include instructions for him/her to follow. Be prepared to write a letter of justification if the negative check results in a “no hire.” Interested in learning more about the EEOC? Visit the EEOC website.



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