Thursday, May 5, 2016


Not sure which is worse, losing an opportunity due to a background check or having an offer revoked. In our society, there are quite significant populations of individuals who demonstrated poor judgment, leading to their incarceration. For those ones that truly turned their life around, background checks create obstacles for getting their life back on track. As many policymakers try to deal with this challenge, the approach seeks to remove transparency, which does not serve the firms best interest. 

Besides violent crimes, fraud, or crimes directly impacting a line of business, many past offenders can still serve as productive members of society. Although most applications state past criminal records do not preclude employment, many times it does. As a result, many states and now the federal government want to push for rules that prevent background and credit checks from becoming part of the hiring process until after an offer. While I agree that credit checks demonstrate little on one’s effectiveness, decision makers should have access to criminal records before putting forth an offer. 

The policy appears to create a bait and switch environment, which could prove detrimental to firms. In our overly litigious society, firms bear liability to stakeholders for who and what it does business with. If a firm brings in a person with an assault record, then there is an altercation involving, the firm is easy pickings in a lawsuit due to negligence in recruiting. Firms should have all the relevant information needed prior to extending an offer. Criminal records are essential to such a decision. After the offer is extended and the remaining pool is informed, the burden of this policy is too overt. 

How society can still effectively deal with these individuals is to allow more non-violent crimes be expunged from records. Putting a process in place where people can earn a clean record can be beneficial in atoning for their past and demonstrating they are truly reformed. After a certain time of good behavior, community service, or combination, people with criminal records should be able to have past convictions removed. The burden should not be placed on companies when the system itself can make a more appropriate change. 

Firms should be willing to give people a second chance, but should also have a clear picture in employment decision. The conviction is a result of a government entity determining that individual needs to spend time away from society. In turn, the government can simply expand opportunities by expunging records. This solution would be more effective and efficient for both government and society.