How U.S. Court Closures During COVID-19 Are Impacting Background Checks

July 6, 2020 | Antique Nguyen

COVID-19 has forced many state, county and federal courthouses to temporarily close, operate remotely, and oftentimes with a limited number of on-site employees. Additionally, laboratories that provide drug screening may not be available for in-person visits and candidates may be reluctant to visit a lab due to risk of exposure. So what does this mean for companies that need fast and reliable background checks in order to screen candidates?

According to an April report from the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), over 60% of courts in the U.S. are reporting “open,” meaning that there is no indication or notice of a change in the court’s standard process for fulfilling public records search requests. Approximately 30% of courts report having “limited results” available, with around 10% of courts having closed their operations. The PBSA has a detailed list by state compiled in Public Record Sources Impacted by COVID-19.


Why Employer Background Checks Should Continue During COVID-19 Pandemic

Can employers suspend background checks temporarily? Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Forbes, some employers may be considering revising their screening programs to accelerate time to hire, for example, temporarily waiving criminal checks. But doing so comes with risk, not only of negligent hiring or negligent retention but of justifying the validity of criminal checks in the future.

In order to defend against discriminatory hiring practices, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires, in part, that employers demonstrate that its practices are “job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.” If, during the pandemic, an employer chooses to suspend criminal checks and reinstates them in the future, those practices could be challenged as not being job related nor consistent with business necessity since the employer was able to hire without the checks for some time.

Despite court closures and other obstacles related to the global health crisis, companies – especially those in need of essential workers, such as healthcare, essential retail, delivery services, and staffing companies – don’t have to choose between rapid hiring and thorough background checks. Working with a screening provider can support a safe and fast hiring process, as navigating the tricky landscape of background checks and drug screening compliance is their first priority.


Efficient and Safe Hiring Should Remains a Priority During COVID-19 Crisis

Working with a vendor like Cisive gives your company options like the ability to offer flexible, no-commitment contracts so you can adjust screening programs accordingly and onboard workers swiftly during the COVID-19 crisis.

“While court closures and other factors have impacted the screening process during this pandemic, Cisive is committed to providing timely and accurate background check information, as well as education on best practices and options for screening,” said James Owens, President and CEO at Cisive. “First and foremost, we understand the cost of a bad hire and the importance of the safety of employers’ workforce. While the business landscape may be shifting, we are adapting quickly and developing solutions like our ACCESS19 COVID-19 digital attestation software to help employers reopen safely during the pandemic.”

With a smart, informed hiring and background screening partner like Cisive, your company can hire quickly while also providing a foundation of trust and safety for your employees and customers during this crisis and into what the “new normal” looks like for hiring. With changes in the I-9, updated guidelines for screening DOT employees, OSHA considerations, compliance in hiring is more complicated than ever. Keeping up with these changes is challenging for HR teams, but working with a screening partner whose job it is to know current legal guidelines and adjust the process with you, as well as one that can make recommendations for updating your employer guide to ensure compliance, allows you and your team to focus on recruiting outreach and selection.


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