The growth of online databases and a multimillion dollar background-check industry have made it easy for employers to find out reams of information about potential hires.
The Associated Press reports that companies see the checks as a way to weed out unsavory candidates, maintain a safe work environment and prevent negligent hiring claims.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, however, companies using criminal records or credit reports to screen out job applicants may be a violation of anti-discrimination laws.
Because African-Americans and Hispanics have much higher arrest and conviction rates than Caucasians, hiring practices involving background screening may have a disparate impact on minorities.
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