Background Checks

A recent article in Human Resource Executive Online reported that BMW has been ordered to pay $1.6 million to settle a race discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The suit, which stemmed from the German automaker’s decision to have background checks conducted on existing workers, highlights the dangers in initiating blanket background-check policies.

Yet, many experts caution companies not to automatically exclude existing employees from screening, especially if they are working in sensitive positions. Failing to do so could also put a company at risk, should the individual later cause problems for other employees or customers. (Barada reported on this issue a few months ago.)

These opposing opinions highlight the importance of using extreme diligence in background screening, whether it is conducted in-house or by a third-party screening firm. In the case of BMW, the screens were initiated when the company changed contractors and were not motivated by specific changes in the individuals’ jobs that might warrant a screen. The EEOC pointed this out in the suit, claiming sucessfully that there was no business necessity tied to the company subjecting incumbent workers to background checks.