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Blogging background checking and security issues

4.01.2005

Background Checks Must Be Relevant

Board members for the Jefferson County airport in Colorado were taken to task for conducting background checks on its lessees that delved too deeply. The story caught my attention because I don’t hear much about background checks being too thorough.

A number of officials involved stepped forward and agreed that the background checks were far too revealing given they were being done on people leasing space from the airport. I imagine that the checks were done simply because air security is a hot topic right now. The report also stated that each lessee signed a release form that authorized the checks and that no negative action was taken against the lessees as a result of the background checks.

So why the fuss? Certainly no laws were broken and no one was adversely affected. Anyone in a position of ownership is also in the position of liability, be it as an employer or an airport board member. Therefore it’s up to that individual to ensure the safety of the organization, facility, etc. and that means conducting a background check that the owner deems appropriate.

The problems arise when the owner can’t show that the information collected in the background check is relevant to the situation. For example, an employer might be hard pressed to show that it was necessary to run a credit check on someone who will be standing in the same spot in an assembly line for 8 hours. It probably won’t cause a problem unless the person is denied a job because of it (or a lease, in the case of the airport situation), but it’s a safe practice to remember that the job function needs to be related to the kind of background check performed.

Here’s a overview of common background check components.

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