New Guidance for Conducting Contractor Background Checks

If you are conducting background checks on contractors,you may want to check out the new Enforcement Guidance the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently published on the use of criminal records in employment decisions.

The guidance does not necessarily contain any new rules, but it consolidates over 30 years of court and EEOC precedent for Title VII discrimination claims into one document. You can read the entire guidance at

Infinisource, our third party administrator for COBRA, also does a good job of summarizing the main points, so you may want to take a quick look at their article on the subject. Here are some main things they say to keep in mind when conducting contractor background checks:

  • An arrest by itself does not prove criminal conduct, so you should not automatically disqualify candidates with arrest records. However, you can consider the arrest if other criminal conduct exists.
  • You should not have a blanket prohibition on any conviction. Doing so could be seen as having a disparate impact on certain races and nationalities.
  • If you are going to take adverse employment action based on a conviction, you must show that the reason is job-related.
  • Before taking adverse action, you should consider the nature of the offense, the amount of time that has passed since the crime took place, and the nature of the job the contractor is being considered for.

In addition to the EEOC guidance, you must also comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which has certain notifications and procedures that must be followed when conducting background checks.  Also, the states in which you have contractors may have additional laws that you must follow.

Many clients require that background checks be conductedon contractors performing work for them, so if you do not currently conduct background checks, you will probably have to at some point.  But you can outsource this and other administrative tasks related to contractors to a contract staffing back-office. A standard background check conducted by a contract staffing back-office should include:

  • Social Security Number verification
  • Statewide misdemeanor and felony check
  • Sex offender
  • Address history
  • County level specific checks for the places the contractor has lived

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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