Omitting arrest records that did not result in convictions from criminal background check results benefits both employers and job candidates. Find out why GoodHire excludes non-convictions.
Can all the information in your CRA’s screening reports legally be considered in hiring decisions? With many CRAs, the answer is no. States and cities often have strict laws limiting what employers can consider—and seeing data you shouldn’t see can put your business at risk.
Find out what can happen when your CRA reports information you can’t consider, what GoodHire does differently to help keep you stay compliant, and the ways our approach benefits employers.
Unlike many consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), which provide all the background screening info they can legally report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and state laws, GoodHire goes the extra mile by using law-based record filtering to exclude criminal records data you can’t legally consider based on local laws in your company’s and the candidates’ locations. Why is this so important and how does it help you stay compliant?
What You Shouldn’t Know Can Hurt You
Criminal records information that is legally reportable by a CRA in background check results may not be information you can legally consider in your hiring decision under state and local laws. Many states and cities have stricter regulations than those set forth by the FCRA. For example:
- In Michigan, employers can’t consider pending misdemeanors in a hiring decision.
- In Massachusetts, employers can’t consider misdemeanors over three years old unless there is another conviction within the past three years.
- In San Francisco, infractions or violations cannot be considered.
- In Hawaii, employers can consider only felonies that occurred within the past seven years and only misdemeanors and infractions that occurred within the past five years.
Complex Web of Laws Makes Compliance Difficult
Laws restricting what background screening information employers can consider in hiring decisions vary depending on the location of the employer and the candidate. In addition to federal laws such as the FCRA, employers must comply with a complicated patchwork of state and local laws. This can be challenging, especially when laws conflict or when you’re hiring in multiple states.
What happens when a CRA reports information you can’t legally consider? Assuming you’re familiar with the laws of your state or city—and the state or city of the job candidate—you’ll have to weed through the reports yourself to determine what to exclude. If available, you might use a filtering tool offered by your CRA; however, it may not be robust enough for your purposes. Or you might use your own spreadsheet or matrix to painstakingly compare background check results to your hiring criteria and applicable state and local screening laws. Either way, there’s likely a manual process involved.
The DIY approach has several downsides:
- It’s labor-intensive, slowing down the hiring process and potentially costing you qualified candidates if other employers act faster.
- It’s prone to human error and inconsistency, which means some candidates may be treated differently than others, which could put you at risk of violating federal laws enforced by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) to prevent workplace discrimination.
- Simply seeing prohibited information during the sorting process can unconsciously influence your hiring decision (this is known as unconscious bias).
- It requires monitoring constantly changing state and local laws and amendments, not only in your location, but in any location where a job candidate may live.
How GoodHire Goes the Extra Mile
GoodHire customers can feel confident they’re not viewing prohibited criminal records data in candidates’ background check reports. At GoodHire, law-based record filtering automatically applies federal, state, and local law compliance filters based on your and your candidates’ locations. GoodHire’s robust automated compliance filtering is combined with human review to remove from background screening results any records that can’t legally be used in hiring decisions.
For example, depending on location, information that GoodHire may exclude from background check reports includes:
- Certain misdemeanors
- Lower-level criminal offenses including infractions and violations, such as for littering or disturbing the peace
In addition, GoodHire omits non-convictions from all background check reports based on guidance issued by the EEOC for employers. This is especially helpful for employers hiring in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Washington D.C. where local laws prohibit employers from considering arrest records that didn’t result in conviction.
Benefits for Employers
Omitting criminal records that employers can’t legally consider helps hiring managers:
- Comply with state and local screening laws
- Improve hiring efficiency by eliminating the need to sort data manually
- Maintain consistent hiring processes and treat all candidates equally, in compliance with EEOC guidance
- Reduce unconscious bias and support fair-chance hiring
- Protect your business from potential penalties or legal liability
Law-based record filtering is a standard feature of all GoodHire screening services. Your company’s hiring policies, the positions you’re hiring for, and other factors may require even more granular filtering. If so, we offer options to add custom filters to your reports, which is especially helpful for high-volume hiring.
GoodHire’s law-based record filtering is just one of the built-in compliance features we offer to make your job easier. For example, if you decide not to hire a candidate based on their background check results, our integrated adverse action workflow—standard with every background check—automatically applies relevant federal, state, and local laws to ensure consistency and compliance. Further, Comments for Context lets candidates easily provide additional information around criminal records, helping employers conduct the individualized assessments recommended by the EEOC. We also understand the importance of a human touch: Our FCRA-certified customer service reps are ready to help if you ever have a question.
Compliance the GoodHire Way
In today’s hiring landscape, staying in compliance can sometimes seem so complicated, only a lawyer could manage it. Using a screening partner with deep compliance expertise helps you make smart, compliant hiring decisions without having to be a legal expert yourself. The result: a faster, simpler, fairer hiring process that benefits both you and your job candidates.
The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.