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Gary Alexander, Senior Attorney
Background Checks To Curb Liability
Alexander & Cleaver, PA

Background Checks To Curb Liability

The rise of negligent hiring lawsuits; the large amounts of false information on the resumes of prospective employees; the heightened scrutiny of corporate directors, officers and other executives; the increase in child abductions; all are cited as reasons why more and more employers are turning to the implementation of improved screening techniques for prospective employees, such as the performance of criminal history records checks.
Generally, it is a wise business practice for employers to screen prospective employees carefully for jobs in which employees handle financial or other sensitive data, or for jobs involving interaction with the public, particularly with vulnerable members of the public. Some employers, such as those who work with minors or senior citizens, are required by Maryland law to obtain a criminal history background check of prospective employees. Other than those special categories of employers, an action against a company for negligent hiring can be avoided without a criminal history records check. For more information as to how to properly screen prospective employees to help avoid future liability, contact your legal team.
For those employers who wish to obtain the criminal history of prospective employees, whether or not they are required by law to do so,
they must contact the State of Marylands Criminal Justice Informa-
tion System Central Depository of the Department of Public Safety
and Correctional Services. Depending on the type of employment in
which an employer engages, fingerprint cards may be required before they can obtain a criminal history records check.
After an employer has obtained a criminal background check, what can it do with the information? The mere discovery of disparaging information about a prospective employee is not necessarily enough to disqualify that person from employment. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the deficiencies found in the criminal background check must be shown to be “job-related.” Once that is established, an employer that denies employment is immune of civil and criminal liability if the employer relied in good faith on the criminal history records check.
The old adage of “it is better to be safe than sorry” applies well regarding the proper investigation of prospective employees. Spending effort at the beginning of the employment process by properly screening prospective employees will save an employer time and money in the courtroom and from embarrassment in the court of public opinion. If you need assistance in preparing a proper prospective employee screening process or in understanding your obligations regarding criminal history background checks, contact an attorney.

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