Potential liability is one of the primary reasons every business, large and small, should have a standard pre-employment screening program, spelled out in the company policy manual, to ensure process consistency. Furthermore, that process consistency should extend throughout the organization, no matter how many locations it has, no matter how many subsidiary companies there are, and no matter how many people within a large organization have some degree of hiring authority.
The potential liability to which the company is exposing itself is staggering. Why? Inconsistent hiring practices could easily lead to charges of discrimination or wrongful denial of employment, or to an accusation of unfair hiring practices. Rather than face all that, it simply makes good business sense – let alone legal sense – to ensure that process consistency exists throughout the corporation.
The fist step is to adopt a corporate-wide policy with regard to the employment process, including background and reference checking. The steps in the hiring process should be carefully outlined and set in concrete to guarantee that every prospective candidate for employment is treated exactly the same. There can be, however, differences in what is checked and whether or not reference checking is required based on different job classifications. For instance, the amount of checking on candidates for hourly positions can be different from the scope of the check on candidates for supervisory positions, and the extent of the check done on candidates for senior level managerial positions can be different from either the checking done on either hourly or supervisory candidates. The key is to insure that all candidates for hourly positions are treated the same, that all candidates for supervisory positions are treated the same, and all candidates for managerial positions are also treated the same. It would make no sense to do as much screening of a candidate for an hourly position and would be for a candidate for the position of Vice President of Manufacturing, for example.
As a suggestion, corporate hiring policy should contain a statement like, “No offer of employment may be made until all required pre-employment documents have been completed and submitted for review and approval by the Human Resources Department.”