EEOC Spells Out Good & Bad on Employee Screening

A newly updated fact sheet from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gives employers a concise briefing on what they may and may not do when screening potential new hires. EEOC says U.S. employers increased their use of screening after 9/11, and the current DHS effort to put teeth in "no match" Social Security letters also could increase their use of background checks. Commonly used tests and procedures to screen applicants for hire and employees for promotion include cognitive tests, personality tests, medical exams, credit checks, and criminal background checks, EEOC says.

These tools "can be a very effective means of determining which applicants or employees are most qualified for a particular job. However, use of these tools can violate the federal anti-discrimination laws if an employer intentionally uses them to discriminate based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, or age (40 or older)," says the agency. "Use of tests and other selection procedures can also violate the federal anti-discrimination laws if they disproportionately exclude people in a particular group by race, sex, or another covered basis, unless the employer can justify the test or procedure under the law."

The fact sheet (www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/factemployment_procedures.html) includes employer best practices, a summary of key EEO laws affecting hiring and screening, and recent litigation and case summaries in this important area. EEOC held a public meeting last May on employment testing, and testimony from the hearing is available at www.eeoc.gov/abouteeoc/meetings/5-16-07/index.html.)

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