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Background checks: a complex legal landscape for employers

For California employers and prospective hirees, this cuts both ways.

On the one hand, a hiring manager might reasonably be deemed to have a legitimate concern when a background check reveals a criminal record for a job applicant.

And on the other hand, that applicant unquestionably has valid concerns when he or she checks off a "yes" response to a criminal history query.

In many instances, of course, an employer might be tempted to hold back a job offer to a candidate based solely on the fact that a criminal conviction mars an otherwise perfectly acceptable employment profile. In fact, job denial on that basis occurs frequently in California and across the country.

Candidly, denial owing to conviction often spells a slippery slope, though, given the intersection of local, state and federal laws that provide a threshold level of protections for job seekers.

Here's one reason why: What if a conviction has scant or, arguably, no bearing on the job position in question or the candidate's ability to perform it?

And what if a person denied a position because of a criminal past legally challenges an employer in a post-denial hearing or lawsuit alleging an employment violation?

That, too, occurs with some frequency. As noted in a recent article discussing some of the complexities inhering in employment-related background checks, employers "have to tread carefully" in their follow-up decisions relevant to applicants' responses.

And hiring managers seem to be doing that, as evidenced by a recent survey indicating that far fewer employers these days are even soliciting responses from job seekers regarding criminal convictions than in past years, knowing that the repercussions in doing so could be problematic.

Employers or job applicants with questions or concerns regarding hiring-related background checks can seek guidance from a proven employment law attorney.

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