Understanding a Potential Employee’s Criminal Record

Employee Criminal Record Check

According to a study conducted by HR.com for the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, 96% of all employers conduct some form of background screening as part of their hiring and onboarding processes. While the study cites the time taken to receive background check results as employers’ number one challenge, there’s another snare laying in wait: what to do when you find out that a potential employee has a criminal record. If you’re an employer in the Charlotte area seeking criminal record checks — and help making sense of your next steps — Barefoot Professional Investigations is here to help.


Why Conduct Criminal Background Checks on Potential Employees?

The primary rationale for conducting a criminal record check is protection — of your business, your assets, your employees, and your clients. This is especially important when a prospective employee could be working with vulnerable populations (such as children, the elderly, or the disabled), or in instances when someone might have access to trade secrets, financials, or other sensitive information. 


Types of Background Checks and Their Uses

Criminal background checks will typically uncover two types of records: arrest records and conviction records. As the EEOC reminds us, an arrest is not proof of criminal conduct, and ought not to be a sole determinant of a hiring, disciplinary, or firing action. However, it may be used as the precipitating event for an inquiry — that is, to determine whether the circumstances of the arrest and the conduct surrounding it may be grounds for such action. 


When it comes to actual criminal conduct, the law is generally more cut and dried. However, even here, care must be taken, since there are legal considerations that can influence how an employer approaches their decisions around an employee’s criminal record.


Minimizing Exposure

We’ve already seen the reasons to conduct a background check, and how those background checks serve as a protective mechanism. However, when they’re improperly conducted, or their results are mis-handled, these background checks can cause as many problems as they solve. A FCRA or Title VII violation can be costly in terms of money and reputation alike, and that’s before you even get to the possibility of a lawsuit from someone who feels they’ve been discriminated against. It’s best to have clear policies in place and — just as importantly — to apply them uniformly to all applicants.


Hiring Employees with a Criminal Record

For certain fields, it’s understandable that a criminal record would disqualify someone as a matter of course. But think about your business, your clientele, and your position; would they truly come to harm if you hire a nonviolent offender who’s paid their debt to society?


It’s a pressing question because more than a fifth of the United States’ population has some form of criminal record, and thousands of new names are added to criminal justice databases daily. As the linked article points out, the majority of criminals are nonviolent; full employment gives meaning to second chances, reduces recidivism, and can gain your business a hard-working employee, in addition to other benefits.


Criminal Background Checks in Charlotte, NC

As with any other HR process, criminal background checks come with their share of potential challenges and pitfalls — and attendant headaches. For this reason (and many others), it’s a good idea to have an experienced partner in your corner. Barefoot Professional Investigations has more than three decades of experience helping business owners in the Charlotte area protect their businesses through a wide range of services, performed with care and discretion to the highest ethical standards. Contact us today for a consultation!