The Significance of Omitting Non-Conviction Records in Background Checks

Employers increasingly rely on comprehensive background checks to make informed hiring decisions in today’s competitive job market. Background screening companies are tasked with providing accurate and relevant data, ensuring employers have all the necessary information to hire confidently. However, confusion sometimes arises regarding what is reported, especially concerning non-conviction records. 

Let’s explore the importance of understanding the legal framework, fair hiring practices, and the rationale behind these standards.

Understanding Non-Conviction Records

Non-conviction records are entries in someone’s criminal history that, when running the report, have not yet resulted in a conviction. 

While some consumer reporting agencies (CRA) may report these records, their reportability is often governed by state laws or other factors rather than solely by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Because we are a PBSA-accredited CRA, we adhere to a strict set of professional standards outlined by the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program and the Background Screening Credentialing Council. 

These standards often lead to the omission of non-conviction records from final reports, a standard practice in the industry because of legal compliance, fair hiring practices, and relevance considerations.

Legal Compliance and Fair Hiring

The decision not to report non-conviction records aligns with legal requirements in many states that prohibit or restrict their reporting. This legislative landscape protects job seekers from potential discrimination based on arrest records that did not lead to a conviction, thus supporting a fairer hiring process. By omitting these records, we help employers navigate these legal complexities and remain compliant with state laws.

Moreover, fair hiring practices are at the core of this approach. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Title VII guidance advises employers against the blanket exclusion of candidates with criminal records, urging them to consider the nature of the crime, the time elapsed, and the relevance of the record to the job in question. Omitting non-conviction records from reports assists employers in adhering to these principles, promoting a more inclusive and equitable hiring process.

Legal Risks and Relevance

Relying on non-convictions in the hiring process could expose employers to legal risks, including discrimination lawsuits. These risks are financial and can damage an organization’s reputation. We help to mitigate these risks for clients by ensuring the information provided is both relevant and legally permissible to use in the hiring process.

The EEOC highlights that “a conviction record will usually serve as sufficient evidence that a person engaged in particular conduct.” In contrast, a non-conviction record “does not establish that criminal conduct has occurred.” 

Thus, from a practical standpoint, non-conviction records should not weigh into the hiring decision, as they do not confirm the occurrence of criminal behavior. This distinction underscores the importance of focusing on information that accurately reflects a candidate’s history and behaviors relevant to their suitability for a position.

Industry Standards and Best Practices

The decision not to report non-conviction records is rooted in a commitment to legal compliance, fair hiring practices, and providing relevant information that truly assists employers in making informed hiring decisions. 

By understanding the rationale behind this approach, employers can appreciate the value of working with a CRA like S2Verify, which prioritizes accuracy, legality, and fairness in the background screening process. 


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