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ViewPoint: Background Checks More Cumbersome than Ever


Amber Elias’ article “Background Checks More Cumbersome than Ever” was featured in Boston Business Journal on January 8, 2016.

With companies facing hacking and age-old threats like workplace violence, a thorough system for screening out problem employees is more important than ever. But a laudable push by policymakers to get people “back to work” and make progress on issues such as wage disparities and job discrimination is putting greater restrictions on what employers can do as part of the vetting process. These expanding restrictions put employers in a difficult position because a bad employee is more than just a business risk—a bad employee can pose legal risks as well.

In the article, Amber provides employers with some basic principles to keep in mind when navigating the labyrinth of local, state and federal laws and regulations dealing with background checks.

Find out which laws apply. Do the necessary research. For example, certain positions in regulated industries require background checks and supersede “Ban the Box.”

Create a policy. In Massachusetts, employers who conduct five or more criminal background checks a year must have a written criminal records policy that complies with the law.

If you take adverse action, understand your obligation to the candidate. Under Massachusetts law, if an employer decides to terminate or take other adverse action against an employee as a result of a criminal background check, the employer is required to notify the employee of the basis of the decision and provide a copy of the criminal background information in question.

Background checks are no longer just a human resources concern. In today’s environment, getting them right is a challenge that requires the attention of the organization’s entire leadership.

To read the full interview, please visit Boston Business Journal.


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