The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has urged the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to address the way in which its new guidance on criminal background checks interacts with state laws.
While welcoming the fact that the guidance “does not appear to impose a one-size-fits-all set of rules” for employers, SHRM commented that there remains a “potential conflict between this federal guidance and state laws that require criminal background checks in some industries and for some positions.”
SHRM has conducted national research that shows a majority of employers are thoughtful in the hiring process and follow practices consistent with law designed to prevent discrimination in hiring. SHRM research in 2006 and 2010 did not show an increase in the use of background criminal checks.
In its statement following the April 25, 2012, EEOC approval of its guidance, SHRM said that it “considers criminal background checks an appropriate tool to help employers make informed hiring decisions while ensuring the safety and well-being of their employees and customers.” It added that “SHRM is pleased that the guidance does not appear to impose a one-size-fits-all set of rules on employers and seems to take into consideration that every employer will have different needs and concerns in the use of criminal background checks in hiring.”
However, the Society added that “SHRM remains concerned with the potential conflict between this federal guidance and state laws that require criminal background checks in some industries and for some positions. We will continue to work with the commission to address issues related to the use of criminal background checks in hiring.”
The SHRM statement continued: “We appreciate the bipartisan nature in which the guidance was developed. SHRM recognizes that the EEOC held hearings and met with stakeholder groups on the use of criminal background checks in hiring, but we continue to believe that a public comment period should have been part of the development of the guidance.”
The guidance issued by the EEOC is not technically a regulation. However, it is designed to provide EEOC field staff and employers with the principles that will be followed in enforcement actions.