Two major U.S. employers are now the subjects of a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for implementing and utilizing a criminal background policy that resulted in employees being fired and others being screened out for employment. A third employer recently paid $3.1 million to settle charges of discrimination for using criminal background checks to screen out job applicants, some never convicted.
Background checks by employers are on the rise with the growth of online databases and low-cost records searches. According to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, about 73 percent of all U.S. employers conduct criminal background checks on all job candidates. Another 19 percent do so for selected job candidates.