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Background Checks in the News: Here’s What Human Resources Needs to Know!

It has once again been a busy month for background screening around the United States, including employment and the constant issues related to background checks before firearm purchases. The growing organization and availability of big datasets also tempt people to exploit that data as a way to check up on independent contractors and cancel contracts if a red flag reveals itself. The world of background screening is deeply impacted by the way the internet has shaped our lives. As digital content continues to grow in its influence on society, responses to its effects are also adapting.

Democrats Push for Stringent Background Checks Before Gun Purchases

In the wake of a string of firearm-related tragedies around the United States, a variety of Congress members are pushing to close the loopholes wherein people purchase firearms without background checks. These background checks can reveal, among other things, histories of violence that could indicate that the buyer in question represents an elevated risk of violence or their past actions demonstrate they don’t have the maturity—or mental stability—to handle a firearm.

These lawmakers see it as a negative thing that many gun shows, for instance, have differing allowances. Gun shows allow individuals to purchase firearms that they would not be able to get without a background check anywhere else. This process isn’t the same kind of screening that would be done for an employment-related background check. However, it illustrates one of the many valuable uses of national, state, and local databases that can throw up red flags. Many lawmakers and citizens alike see it as fair to restrict access to firearms in unique circumstances. For example, those who make it clear that they are willing to threaten or commit acts of violence against their fellow human beings.

In Texas, a recent push for background checks to be uniformly required in the wake of the El Paso and Midland-Odessa shootings would include “stranger to a stranger” informal sales. It is possible to purchase guns from family members or through a social media site, so as many as 20% of weapons are purchased without background checks.


Postal Service Finds Gaps in Background Screening Process

Recently, Fedweek uncovered that, despite being background checked, a variety of United States Postal Service workers actually had violations on their records. These violations could have prevented their employment. Of course, there are a variety of past infractions that may not require the Postal Service to reject an application. However, the study reveals that the standards by which individuals were hired were inconsistent.

The investigation attributes the uneven application acceptances in the final rounds of hiring to a lack of broad policy. Such a policy should describe what kinds of violations create a definite application rejection versus which items are up for the discretion of those doing the hiring. While a NACI (National Agency Check with Inquiries) background screen was conducted on every applicant in the final round of recruitment, and many received an unfavorable check or a criminal hit. If the Postal Service wishes to employ those with past criminal records, it is their decision. However, inconsistent hiring practices does open them up to legal liability if they discriminate and hire some people with a criminal record but reject others for the same record.


Employers Explore Benefits of Continuous Background Checks

Forbes and other sites continue to explore the benefits or drawbacks of continually background checking one’s employees. These checks operate on the principle that, after a background check is conducted, an employee could still choose to participate in behaviors that might be grounds for dismissal. These continuous tests may have started as a form of “search alert,” letting the employer know when the person’s name appeared in databases or search results. However, they continue to evolve with the growth of artificial intelligence. Violation of privacy continues to be a significant issue that all employers must consider when screening potential candidates. An arena where this can come into play is the realm of social media.

One drawback of these types of services is that they do not merely search for violations of the law. They sometimes analyze social media platforms—one’s global online presence—and offer predictive information that may or may not be accurate. Artificial intelligence-driven checks can then become a pressing issue for those with “common names.”

These kinds of checks, specifically concerning criminal charges that come up during one’s “employment,” mostly pertain to independent contractors. Employees, by contrast, are protected by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Whether continuous checks will become more prevalent and popular with the rise of big data, however, remains to be seen.

Keeping You in the Know!

Tune in next month to learn more about what is new in the evolving world of background screening. As companies continue to look for reliable, useful services, the options may seem endless and confusing. Working with CNet Technologies means working with a trusted partner in third-party screening. Choose CNet Technologies and get started with thorough, effective, and legal background checks and screening services.

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