In July 2012, the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”) released a study on employer use of criminal histories. Of the 69% of employers that do conduct a criminal background check on employees, SHRM reported 69% consider criminal histories because the position requires a fiduciary duty or financial responsibility; 66% consider them for positions where there is access to highly confidential employee salary, benefits, or personal information; 55% will review a criminal history for positions with access to corporate or personal property, including technology; 48% of employers will consider criminal histories for senior executive positions; and 37% for safety-sensitive positions, like transportation and the operation of heavy equipment. The SHRM study shows that employers weigh different offenses differently, consider the severity of the crime, and examine the distance in time between an offense and the job application. In short, employers use criminal checks in a responsible and focused manner.
Background Checking—The Use of Criminal Background Checks in Hiring Decisions, Society for Human Resource Management, July 19, 2012, http://www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Articles/Pages/CriminalBackgroundCheck.aspx.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More