Last year the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) came out with new guidelines for the use of background checks in hiring:

Based on these guidelines, the EEOC has now filed a claim against two organizations for using background checks inappropriately in the hiringprocess.

In a recent BMW claim, the EEOC alleged that the company’s hiringpolicy was not job-related or consistent with business necessity, thereby they disproportionately “screened out” African Americans.  In short, BMW refused to re-hire employees that had previously been working for them for years through a contractor.  The contractor had originally run a background check with a  7-year limit, prior to the applicant’s starting the position. When BMW processed a new background screen (for re-hire), with an unlimited time frame, they discovered older convictions on the applicants.  Based on this discovery, BMW refused to re-hire the employees, although the employees had already been working there for years.


Dollar General was also named in a claim for unfair use of criminal background checks. One applicant disclosed a 6-year-old drug conviction, and had been working successfully in a similar retailer for 4 years prior, but the blanket policy of Dollar General did not allow for the hiring of anyone with certain convictions within 10 years. An additional applicant’s conditional offer was rescinded despite the fact that the felony conviction on her report did not actually belong to her. Dollar General did not rescind the decision even when informed of the mistake.

Background screening clearly protects businesses from making mistakes in their hiring decisions, as well as from negligent hiring claims, however,  the EEOC is buckling down on employer’s screening policies. They are following up on their recent guidance to ensure screening policies are consistent with the specific job, and also individually assessed for each applicant, allowing an even playing field in the hiring process and reducing discrimination.


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