Showing 2 posts in Employment Application.
Over the past few years some states have passed laws known as “Ban the Box” laws. Most of these laws prohibit employers from inquiring into convictions in job applications, unless employers are required by law to perform criminal background checks. These laws typically allow for employers to ask about convictions in the interview process or after a conditional offer is made. As of today, six states, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, have ban the box laws that extend coverage to private employers. Several other cities across the country, including the District of Columbia, have also passed similar laws. Additionally, several other states are discussing and proposing Ban the Box laws. While Georgia has not yet passed a Ban the Box law that applies to private employers, last month the Atlanta City Council passed an ordinance that removes a requirement that job applicants disclose criminal histories to the City of Atlanta. Violations of these state and municipal laws typically lead to fines and a potential cause of action for employers.
Employers should also be mindful that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to do an individual assessment when they learn that an employee was convicted of a crime. The EEOC suggests that employers analyze the nature of the crime; the time elapsed; and the nature of the job before refusing to hire job applicants over a conviction.
Bottom line, asking about criminal convictions in applications can be helpful to identify potential issues. Employers should review their hiring and background procedures, including making sure they are compliant with both federal and state laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (which we previously blogged about last month), Ban the Box laws, and EEOC guidance. Multi-state companies who wish to continue asking questions related to criminal convictions need to make sure they do not run afoul of Ban the Box state and/or municipal laws by having different versions of applications.
Most organizations require job candidates to complete an employment application as part of the hiring process. (If your company simply relies on resumes instead, watch this HR Minute on the pitfalls.) Are you using a generic application, pulled from parts unknown on the internet, or is your application tailored to your company's needs and compliant with federal and state law? Your company can get itself into legal hot water if the application seeks unnecessary and perhaps prohibited information.
Here are a few tips to consider in analyzing a completed employment application:
- Is the application truly complete? Be on the lookout for blanks or skipped questions...it is possible that the applicant left something out and hoped you wouldn't notice! There may be a good reason that the person didn't write down a reason for leaving prior jobs.
- Beware of vague or evasive answers (e.g. Dates of employment answered in years... "2013-2014" wouldn't reveal that the person only worked from late December 2013 until January 2014).
- Did the person sign and date the application? The applicant's signature is often his/her consent for background checks and other screening.
- Is there evidence of stable employment history, or has the person bounced around? You may still take a chance on the person, understanding that the common denominator in all his dysfunctional employment relationships is him!
- Drill down on references. Ideally she will list former employers, rather than grandma and the neighborhood barista.
Scouring an employment application can save your organization trouble down the road, or help you find that diamond in the rough. Happy hunting!
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