By Sally Padrow, HR Business Partner, Trüpp.

Companies that require pre-employment background and/or drug screenings do so to ensure that new employees they are hiring have provided truthful information, are not using drugs that could impair their work performance, or do not have a history of criminal activity directly related to their ability to perform the required job functions. In so doing, they protect themselves from negligent hiring and ensure a safe workplace for employees and customers.

Best practice dictates that an organization establish clear guidelines to follow when presented with screening results to ensure a consistent process that complies with relevant employment regulations.

Results can be classified as follows:

  • Meets Company Standards: Results did not trigger any of the defined criteria.
  • Refer to Review Process: Results trigger criteria for a review process. A review team assesses the information based on predefined criteria and makes a hiring decision.
  • Does Not Meet Company Standards: Results triggered criteria and hiring process stops. The FCRA pre-adverse letter is sent.

It is important to develop a protocol for each type of screening conducted. The most common types of screenings are criminal record checks and drug screens.

For criminal records, we recommend that employers define what is an unacceptable criminal record for each position, and develop criteria for how they will respond to negative results related to pending records, unresolved active bench warrants, deferred adjudication/probation before dismissal, misdemeanor or felony convictions, pending decisions regarding weapons or violence, and all other misdemeanor or felony convictions.  When considering what constitutes a negative result and how to respond when one is received, employers should take into account the nature of the position for hire and how the criminal record relates to job duties, as well as the age at the time of conviction, and when the conviction occurred.

For drug tests, we recommend that employers establish procedures defining what constitutes a negative result and how the employer will address negative results, diluted specimens, and situations when no result can be determined. In addition, it is advised that employers implement a policy regarding future consideration for employment of an individual who’s test results disqualify them for a currently available position.

Having a well-documented process will help mitigate future risk and liability by showing that you do not have a blanket policy that may discriminate against protected classes or those with prior convictions.