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OFCCP: Background checks only if job-related, necessary

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in Employment Background Check,Human Resources

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has issued new guidance about how and when federal contractors may use a job applicant’s criminal background in the hiring process. The lesson: Don’t have a blanket policy that says you won’t hire anyone with a criminal history unless you can prove the ban is “job-related” and “of business necessity.”

The OFCCP guidance affects employers that are contractors or subcontractors to the federal government. It’s largely the same as guidance recently issued by the EEOC.

The guidance explains that contractors must be prepared to justify the job-relatedness and business necessity of criminal background checks by citing the: 

  • “Nature and gravity” of the individual’s criminal offense or conduct
  • Amount of time between a job seeker’s criminal conduct and his or her employment application
  • Nature of the duties and essential functions of the position sought.   

Read the guidance directive at the Department of Labor's website.

The guidance emphasizes that contractors that require criminal background checks without demonstrating the need may be guilty of disparate-impact discrimination, because blacks and Hispanics tend to be incarcerated at higher rates than whites.

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