NSBA President Testifies on Background Checks

June 11, 2014

June 10, 2014

Molly Brogan Day

Washington, D.C. – Earlier today, NSBA President and CEO Todd McCracken testified before the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) enforcement actions to end criminal background screening.

“Employers want to provide a safe place for their employees to work and to prevent workplace crime, and background screening is the primary tool that employers have to protect their customers, their employees and themselves from criminal behavior,” McCracken said.

As background, the EEOC over the last two years has ramped up efforts and lawsuits against businesses for conducting criminal background checks, and in 2012 issued “guidance” indicating that it will regard much criminal background screening conducted by employers as suspect, even, for example, if that screening is required by state law.  This guidance is painfully vague and provides little meaningful guidance to employers trying to determine when criminal background screening is permissible.

Citing the tenuous position this puts small firms in—likely to be held liable for any criminal acts perpetrated by their employees while on the clock—McCracken called on the EEOC to better articulate rules that are comprehensible and don’t conflict with existing state rules requiring background checks.

McCracken went on to state that, “Small businesses are conducting background checks to help promote public safety, not for the purposes of excluding minority employees.  They are trying to hire qualified employees. They are trying to prevent their employees, their customers and, in the case of family-owned businesses, their own families, from becoming victims of crime.”

Underscoring the ongoing need for background screening, McCracken cited the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which show that approximately 572,000 nonfatal violent crimes (rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault) occurred against persons age 16 or older while they were at work in 2009.

NSBA has urged the EEOC time and again to address the faulty guidance it issued and to do so with some modicum of understanding what it means to be a small employer. According to McCracken, “It is not in an employer’s interest to fail to hire an otherwise qualified applicant because of a long-passed minor infraction.”

Please click here to read the full testimony.

Celebrating more than 75 years in operation, NSBA is a staunchly nonpartisan organization advocating on behalf of America’s entrepreneurs. NSBA’s 65,000 members represent every state and every industry in the U.S., and we are proud to be the nation’s first small-business advocacy organization. Please visit www.nsba.biz or follow us at @NSBAAdvocate.