Differing Views on Background Screening at NAPBS Conference

The National Association of Professional Background Screeners’ (NAPBS) Mid-Year Legislative and Regulatory Conference held in Arlington, Virginia, featured prominent federal and state government officials offering distinct perspectives on critical issues related to background screening. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair Jacqueline Berrien led the noted speakers that also featured Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens and a panel of Federal Trade Commission staff.

Berrien acknowledged the importance of EEOC’s interaction with industry stakeholders, and emphasized the need for addressing misperceptions related to the EEOC’s 2012 Guidance, “Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” She stated that the guidance came about in part from the proliferation of minimal-cost, instant background checks. She reiterated the value of individualized assessments and acknowledged the ongoing struggle to find the balance between federal and state regulation and guidance for employers to follow.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said the EEOC has not provided clear guidance or adequate information for businesses to comply with the law.  He called on the EEOC to provide greater clarity to help businesses avoid becoming the subject of costly civil lawsuits because of lack of understanding of the law and its implications in their hiring decisions.

The panel of Federal Trade Commission staff discussed the recent joint publication with EEOC, providing more insight into the individualized-assessment process. FTC staff said they are glad to take questions from businesses about this publication.