Is your employee background screening process illegal?

Policies must link specific criminal conduct and its dangers with specific job duties

One important issue that the EEOC’s new guidance raises for the security industry is whether complying with state or local laws like licensing or permitting laws that may prohibit candidates with criminal records from holding certain jobs will protect employers from EEOC enforcement or lawsuits. The guidance expressly states that federal law trumps state and local laws, and compliance with these laws is not an acceptable basis for excluding candidates based on past criminal history unless the law’s exclusion is job related for the particular position and addresses serious safety risks related to that position. This may create a conflict for employer depending on a state’s specific licensing or permitting laws for electronic security providers. Make sure to consult counsel to confirm compliance with this federal law and any applicable state laws.

About the author: Eric Pritchard is a partner in Kleinbard Bell & Brecker LLP, Philadelphia, a commercial law firm with a national practice in the electronic security and life safety industries. This column does not constitute legal advice; contact an attorney with specific questions.