The Latest Insights on Background Screening and Compliance

As employers develop and implement their background screening programs, much work goes into the creation of a smart, safe, and legally compliant policy. However, the landscape around hiring continues to change with each passing year. State and federal lawmakers display increasing concerns about the sanctity of the workforce and whether there is a fair and level playing field. 

As a result, achieving compliance is not a one-off task. Even a basic retail business could run afoul of local laws without paying close attention to the changes. Understanding what's new in background checks, hiring, and employment law is a continuous process. In 2023, we've already seen a number of trends emerging along with new legislation passed or headed into force.

Here are three top trends and stories to know about now.

Colorado Aims to Combat Age Discrimination

Employers often worry about complying with ban-the-box laws that prohibit questions about criminal history on employment applications or delay employment background screening. However, what about an applicant's age or how long ago they attended college? According to a new Colorado law in 2024, employers will not be allowed to ask about when someone attended college, their age, or their date of birth on initial applications. The law will also let applicants who must submit educational transcripts to employers redact this information.

The goal: reduce the impact of age discrimination and broaden access to jobs as the workforce ages. The law will make some exceptions, but employers in Colorado will need to update their application workflows prior to July 2024.

Many States Look to Improve Pay Transparency

How you advertise your job will matter much more in many states soon, following a nationwide trend of enforcing pay transparency. This phrase refers to publishing pay ranges and average salaries alongside job postings. Eight states already have such laws on the book, including New York and California. Six more, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, have legislators looking to mandate the publication of salary information, too. Employers must be mindful of these efforts to shrink wage gaps and update their postings accordingly.

An AI Crackdown Could Be in the Cards

There is an incredible amount of buzz around the potential for artificial intelligence tools to reshape society, and many employers are eager to embrace AI hiring tools. The EEOC does not share the same level of enthusiasm. The regulatory body has signaled a wide swath of upcoming action and potential regulation in this emergent space.

The EEOC is looking closely at all tools used in hiring, from resume-reading AIs to chatbots that conduct virtual job interviews. Automatic "scoring" applications are also under the microscope. According to the EEOC, businesses should only use such tools if they are essential and related to the job. The agency also notes that employers should self-police on the matter of AI as the ultimate responsibility for their use falls on their shoulders, not the developers of the tools or background screening companies.

As AI continues to proliferate, employers should consider taking a cautious view of the technology to avoid rushing ahead of regulation and creating potential legal peril.

Staying Ahead of the Curve on Compliance

As the legislative landscape continues to change, employers must keep their policies up to date and in line with the law. Whether that's Colorado-based businesses updating their employment applications or an HR department rethinking how it will use AI, these considerations are important. 

Background screening is a potent tool when used correctly but misusing them—or missing out on a significant compliance update—can lead to serious headaches. Stay current and consider revisiting your policy at least once a year to examine it for any needed updates.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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