Victoria Lipnic, EEOC Commissioner, called it a “wise practice” to allow candidates to explain past crimes as part of an individualized assessment, in an article* for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Yet in that same article, she goes on to say that an individual assessment is not always required under Title VII; it depends on the situation and circumstances. For example, she remarked that a day care center would not need an individual assessment of a child molestation conviction before eliminating the individual from consideration.
Basically, an individualized assessment process allows a candidate to provide evidence that a conviction is not related to his or her ability to perform a job and allows employers the opportunity to determine whether a criminal record is specifically related to the position. Unfortunately, the Guidance provides little to no direction around how to set up a standardized process for performing individualized assessments. And companies appear to be interested in improvements. In a recent survey by First Advantage, responses indicated as follows (they could select more than one area they would want improved):
- 28% Selected “How the process is conducted”
- 31% Selected “How the process is documented”
- 31% Selected “How the process is communicated to the applicant”
- 40% Selected “How the process is communicated internally to recruiters/HR/hiring manger/legal”
*Article available to SHRM members only. Titled, “EEOC Guidance Encourages Individualized Assessment of Criminal Conduct in Background Screening” Written April 25, 2012–shortly after the guidance was announced.