Putting Employment Issues Behind You

Can background checks be discriminatory?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2024 | Discrimination

Looking for a job can involve many steps, all necessary to determine if you are a good fit for the position. Typically, each employer has a unique hiring process to vet applicants and learn more about the role’s requirements. However, these procedures might include potentially discriminatory practices, including background checks.

Finding out more about a person before hiring them may seem reasonable upfront. These checks could involve reviewing criminal or medical histories, which can make sense if they are vital factors based on the job’s nature. Unfortunately, the problems often lie in how the employer conducts them.

When are they discriminatory?

A background check can be helpful but can become discriminatory if an employer uses it as a basis for employment decisions despite considering the information irrelevant to the role. This practice can leave applicants at a disadvantage if they have qualities prone to bias and discrimination, such as their race, gender, age, religion and other protected characteristics.

For example, a background check could be a form of discrimination in the following situations:

  • It is only necessary for a specific group of applicants identified by race, religion, disability, gender, age or other information.
  • The details reviewed during the check have no relevance or importance to the job.
  • The employer used the check’s results to choose someone for the role using unrelated information as a basis.

The law has provisions protecting job seekers from these incidents. Generally, employment policies may consider a background check unlawful or unethical if conducted before making an official job offer. Other circumstances can impact the procedure’s validity, making employers prone to complaints or legal action if done improperly.

Understanding what makes an employment practice unlawful

If you suffered because of a discriminatory employment decision, consider seeking legal counsel immediately. Experienced advice can help determine whether the incident is illegal and seek appropriate ways to address the issue. Doing so can protect your rights as a workforce member and deter other employers from committing the same violation.