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There are a few cities and states considering legislation on  “Banning the Box” question that currently exists on employment applications and questions during the first round of interviews. For example:
On March 31, 2011, Philadelphia, PA City Council passed a “Ban the Box” bill, regulating the ability of employers to conduct criminal background checks in the employment process. Mayor Nutter signed the bill into law and it will apply to city agencies AND private employers employing 10 or more persons within the City of Philadelphia.
Under the new legislation:
·      Employers would be precluded from inquiring about arrests that did not result in convictions unless required or permitted by another law; and

·      Employers would be precluded from making any inquiry regarding criminal convictions before and during the application process and initial interview process, or from requiring that applicants disclose any such information. It seems that after the first interview is conducted, the employer is free to conduct a criminal background check.
·      Banning the box appears to give applicants with a criminal conviction, the opportunity is considered for opportunities prior to the employer’s knowledge of their criminal background. Additionally, it seems that the legislation is providing those with criminal backgrounds, an opportunity to compete with an equal playing field.
Imagine your role as a Human Resource Manager within an organization. Please answer the following questions:
·      What are communication strategies that can be used to communicate the regulatory changes to hiring leaders within an organization?

·      What are some of the policy changes that will need to take place within the organization?

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·      What are your thoughts regarding the “Ban the Box” concept?

Check out this website related to our topic: 

You must cite within the text of your response and include multiple references in addition to the text.

lesson attached

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500 word


  • Welcome to Week 4

This week will cover material about Background Checks.

In this lesson, we will discuss:

    • What are communication strategies that can be used to communicate the regulatory changes to hiring leaders within an organization?
    • Background Checks
      • Education History
      • Employment History
      • Financial History
      • Medical History
      • Criminal History
      • Social Media History
      • Driving History
    • Recordkeeping and Maintenance

Course Learning Objectives:

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

    • Apply theory and concept to real world of HR policy and situations in the workplace
    • Examine employee relations and discuss laws and policies related to employment opportunities, allegations of discrimination, employment practices, diversity, and affirmative action programs



Background Checks



  • Background Checks
  • Education History
  • Employment History
  • Financial History
  • Medical History
  • Criminal History
  • Ban the Box
  • Social Media History
  • Driving History
  • Background Check Summary
  • Additional Resources on Background Checks
  • Recordkeeping and Maintenance
  • Communicating Policy




This lesson will focus on two main areas. The first will be on background checks and the second will be on communicating policy changes to hiring managers within an organization. Although the two topics may seem unrelated, we will explore how they are connected. Anytime a policy is added, changed, or updated, the appropriate personnel must be informed. Communicating the new information in an effective way can be just as important as the policy itself.

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Background Checks

Before we jump into our discussion on employment background checks, we need to understand what it means. Essentially, it means to verify or authenticate the information provided by an applicant or employee. This could include checking the information provided on an application, in a resume, or from an interview. The employer wants to ensure the employee or candidate has the background and experience they are claiming.

If it is determined that an applicant was untruthful about their experience, credentials, education, qualifications and so forth, then the employer can release, or fire that person provided the person signed or attested to the truthfulness of the information.

Information an employer might want to gather about an applicant could include some or all of the following; education history, work history, financial history, medical history with some exceptions), criminal history, and their use of social media. It is not against the law for an employer to ask questions about the applicant or employees background or to require a background check.

There are many reasons an employer would want to conduct a background check. The most common reason is to avoid negligent hiring. If an employee kills or injures someone, the company could be held liable. Some positions require it by law such as those that work with children, elderly, or the disabled. Recent terrorist attacks and illegal immigration are two other reasons an employer would want to verify the person being hired is the one they claim to be.

The employer can conduct the background checks in-house or hire a third party. In most cases, they will need written permission from the applicant or employee to conduct the check(s). Regardless of the extent in which an employer will conduct background checks, a HR policy should be in effect delineating what will be checked, who will conduct the check, when it will be checked, how the information will be used, the forms that will need to be signed, and what will be done with the information after it is no longer needed.

Let’s explore some of these topics and discover why an employer would want background information.

Education History

This is one of the most falsified areas on a resume. This is prolific and research supports the claim. HireRight conducted a survey in 2015 and found that 86% of employers who conducted a check of education as part of a background check, uncovered candidates who lied. That number is staggering. If there is an education requirement for a position, employers must use due diligence to verify the education information provided by an applicant or employee.

When verifying education history, some of the items to verify are the actual degree, diploma, certification, or college courses. Other areas to verify are the graduation or completion date, the major, and the accrediting body for the institution issuing the degree, diploma, or certification. Verifying education credentials is an important part of the hiring process and ensuring you are hiring a person with the education requirements being sought.

Employment History

When an applicant fills out a job application, the work history section asks several questions. The questions asked are the ones that are verifiable by the employer such as the name of the company the applicant is or was employed with, job title, job description, and start and stop dates.

The employer or third party can contact the previous organizations and ask that they verify the information. An applicant’s previous job performance is not usually a topic of discussion. The primary reason to verify employment history is to verify the employee or applicant has the experience they claim to have on a resume, job application, and during an interview.

Financial History

Many people often wonder why an employer would want to run a credit report or perform a background check on an employee’s financial history. For most positions, it is not a requirement and the employer has no interest in an applicant’s credit history. According to the Society of Human Resource Managers, the percentage of employers conducting background checks on an applicant or employees financial history is on a downward trend. Now less than 50% of employers perform this check.

When an employer does require a background check on an applicant’s financial history, the credit score is not being looked at, but any debt with a judgments or default. Medical and education debt should not part of the equation either. When an employer requires a check into the financial history of an applicant or employee, they are looking for any patterns of misuse or mishandling of money and any debts not being resolved. This is usually associated with a position that involves the applicant or employee handling money, working for the government, or in the banking and financial industry.

Medical History

Medical History can be a tricky area for employers. Before considering the requirement of medical history or medical examination, the employer needs to make sure it is a business necessity. If it is a business necessity, the rules and regulations differ depending on the applicant’s stage of employment or promotion. The three categories are pre-offer, post offer, and already employed.

During the pre-offer stage, the employer cannot ask medical questions, even if they are job-related. After a conditional offer is made, the employer may ask certain medical conditions, even if they are not job-related, as long as they ask the same questions to all applicants. After employment, an employer can only ask medical questions if they are job-related and affect business necessity.

In order for a medical history to be a business necessity, the employee would not be able to perform the job duties because of a medical condition, or the employee could put other employees or customers in danger due to a medical condition.

It may also be a necessity if required by federal law or regulations such as that required by the Department of Transportation (DOT) for over the road truck drivers. It could be necessary if the employer is offering voluntary wellness programs, or the employer is undertaking affirmative action and hiring people with disabilities.

Criminal History

According to federal guidelines, an employer can legally conduct a criminal background check, but EEO laws prohibit the employer from discriminating based on the results of the criminal background check. The EEOC has stated a person cannot be denied employment based solely on what is contained in the criminal report. Doing such could violate the candidate or employee’s Title VII rights.

If an employer does not hire because of the information in the criminal report, it must be based on business necessity, and the employer has to consider the severity and nature of the offense, the time passed since the conviction or completion of incarceration, and the nature of the job. Some states limit employer’s use of criminal records in hiring decisions so again, it is important to know state law as well as federal law.

Ban the Box

We cannot discuss criminal background checks without discussing the Ban the Box movement. Since 2015, over 18 states and 100 cities and municipalities have joined the Ban the Box movement. This does not completely do away with the criminal background check, but removes questions, or check boxes, related to past convictions from employment applications.

In 2012, the EEOC officially endorsed this position followed by the Obama Administration endorsing it as well. The reason supporters of Ban the Box endorse this idea is to give applicants a fair chance based on merit. This does not negate a criminal background check or due diligence, it just moves it to later in the hiring process.

Social Media History

Employers can use social media in two ways relating to hiring. The first is post job announcements to try to entice candidates. The second way is to check social media as part of the background check. Since our topic is background checks, we will only cover that area.

Why would an employer check social media? This is a great question and one we should explore. The recruiting platform Jobvite conducted a survey in 2014 and found that 93% of hiring managers review an applicant’s social media profiles before making a decision to hire.

Applicant posts or tweets about drug use, alcohol, guns, racial comments or slurs, and sexually provocative writings or photos have been the biggest distractors for applicants. Poor grammar and spelling are also a big distractor along with political affiliation.

Is this legal? Yes, but just like the credit check, employers are not looking for what most people think. Although a picture of the applicant holding a drink on the beach with a comment full of curse words may not help their cause, digging up dirt is not the intent of a social media background check. Your photos are not passed on, but posts demonstrating aggressive or unwanted behavior, unlawful behavior, discriminatory behavior, or sexually explicit behavior are red flags.

Just like the criminal background check, we should follow the same guidelines with checking social media. This would include not checking on a candidate or employee pre-offer. When it is post-offer, check the same social media sites for each applicant. This could be LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or numerous other sources. The point is, be consistent. The safest bet is to have HR conduct the check instead of the hiring manager. If something is found that could be detrimental to the employer, it could affect the hiring decision.

Driving History

If driving could be a part of an employee’s or applicant’s job, then a check of driving history will be conducted. This does not just apply to people who drive daily for the job but could apply to people who have to travel for business purposes and will need a rental car or who may drive a company vehicle on occasion.

Sometimes, the driving record will overlap with details that would be found in a criminal record such as a DUI. If this happens, the laws and rules previously mentioned pertaining to the EEOC apply. Just like the other background checks mentioned, a driving history should not be checked pre-offer, but can be conducted post offer as a condition of employment.

Background Check Summary

In Lesson Three, we discussed several anti-discrimination laws. These laws apply to an employer and the employer cannot discriminate when considering information obtained in a background check. These laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

If you as the HR professional in the organization uses a third party to run your background checks and receive the background information, then you will need to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In addition, you will need to let the employee or applicant know that information found in the background check may be used in the decision-making process. This needs to be in writing and a stand-alone document separate from the application. The applicant or employee must understand that they are giving the employer permission to perform the background check through a third party.

Additional Resources on Background Checks

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for enforcing the FCRA. It is also important to know state and local laws pertaining to background checks. To find local information, you can check with an employment law attorney or use resources provided to members of the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM).

For additional information on SHRM and student membership, you can contact SHRM directly via the website.

American Public University has a student chapter of SHRM and can be reached via email.

For more information on background checks and to dispel some common myths about background checks, please watch the following video:

Open file: Transcript

Watch the following video for information from the employee or applicant perspective and rights related to background checks:

Open file: Transcript

Recordkeeping and Maintenance

Once you no longer need the information obtained from a background check, you will need to follow the timelines and disposal methods required by both the EEOC and FTC. Typically, an employer will need to keep the information on file for 1-2 years depending on the situation.

Once the leadership of the organization determines what categories need to be checked and for what positions they need to be checked, an HR policy needs to drafted, executed, and communicated to the hiring leaders in the organization and all other personnel involved in the process. There is no doubt that effective communication is important in every area of business. This includes communicating policy and policy changes to the hiring leaders.

Communicating Policy

In previous lessons, we learned the importance of communicating before a policy change, during a policy change, and after a policy change. We learned the importance of having an implementation plan and a communication plan. Those lessons and what we learned is applicable to the lesson as well.

HR professionals should meet with hiring managers before they start reviewing resumes and conducting interviews. Hiring managers should have training in interview techniques, legal and illegal questions, note-taking, and decision making. Hiring managers should have training on the ethics and legalities of the hiring process. In this lesson, we explored background checks and one of those sub-areas had to do with social media. Do your hiring managers know the laws related to checking the Facebook page of an applicant before deciding if they want to conduct an interview?

In the world of real estate, there is a saying if you want to be successful in buying and selling; location, location, location. In the world of business, the slogan should be communication, communication, communication. We can never underestimate the importance of communication. Communication is the compass we can use to help us reach the strategic goals of the organization. Please watch this short video illustrating this thought.

Open file: Transcript


Human Resource professionals are expected to know the laws, regulations, and intricacies of the HR policies in the organization. Communicating important policy information to the leaders and decision-makers of the organization is extremely important. So too is communicating HR policy to new and current employees. Just having an employee handbook or manuals and procedures in place is not enough. When it comes to HR policy and procedures, HR professionals need to be proactive in communicating information. When an HR professional is reactive, then they are continually on the defensive, and not on the offensive leading, mentoring, advising, and coaching.


The State of Recruiting and Background Screening in 2015. (n.d.). Retrieved September 08, 2017, from

Credit Checks Are Legitimate Screening Tool. (2017, May 19). Retrieved September 08, 2017, from

EEOC Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved September 08, 2017, from

EEOC Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved September 08, 2017, from

The 2014 Social Recruiting Survey Results. (2017, July 24). Retrieved September 08, 2017, from


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