A few weeks ago, the local school board here was forced to fire an assistant football coach who had a record of multiple arrests. Members in the local community wondered why the school district had hired this person and why they had not screened his application to discover the arrests.
Last weekend’s Wall Street Journal story headlined Hiring Managers Bedeviled By Flood of Arrest Records shed some light on the situation and serves as a “warning” for association and nonprofit hiring managers.
Here are some excerpts of the story:
- Eddie Sorrells is evaluating job applicants he knows he can’t hire. The chief operating officer of DSI Security Services, a provider of security guards, is checking out potential employees with felony or certain misdemeanor convictions even though they wouldn’t get licensed in many of the 23 states where the firm operates. Driving the company in that direction are government officials in Washington and elsewhere who want to give people with rap sheets a better shot at a job. Mr. Sorrells figures the reviews take up hundreds of hours of staff time a year.
- Three decades of tougher laws and policing have left nearly one in three adult Americans with a criminal record, according to data kept by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That arrest wave is washing up on the desks of America’s employers.
- Companies seeking new employees are forced to navigate a patchwork of state and federal laws that either encourage or deter hiring people with criminal pasts and doing the checks that reveal them. Employers are having to make judgments about who is rehabilitated and who isn’t. And whichever decision they make, they face increasing possibilities for ending up in court.
- Ignoring the records can leave a company vulnerable to making bad hiring decisions and to lawsuits. But using them can raise the ire of government officials and lead to charges of discrimination.
- Background checks to explore any legal or ethical issues of candidates
- Drugs tests to check on the use of illegal drugs