New Employment Laws Create Roadblocks

Posted: Updated:

Hiring the right people has always been a challenge, and it's especially difficult in a low-unemployment environment. Yet that hasn't stopped some state and local governments from doing their best to complicate the hiring process.

In recent years, one of the biggest issues has been so-called "ban the box" laws that prohibit employers from asking about criminal history on applications. Now it appears that data about past salaries is becoming another taboo subject.

In 2016, Massachusetts joined several other states and cities in enacting laws that prohibit employers in those jurisdictions from asking job applicants about their previous salaries. In effect, the timeless application request for a prospect’s salary history just became illegal.

It’s yet another example of the laws and the courts shifting legal rights and protections away from employers to individuals. The larger goal of most of these laws is laudable: reducing the potential for discrimination from the hiring process. “Ban the box” laws are intended to protect members of minority groups, who are statistically more likely to have faced criminal prosecution in the past. Similarly, the salary disclosure laws are designed to protect groups of people who may have earned lower wages in the past (such as women and minority groups), by reducing the potential to perpetuate those wage gaps.

No matter what you think of these laws, as an employer you’re bound to follow them if you hire people in the states and municipalities where they’ve been enacted. And, as more companies do business across the country, they find themselves subject to laws they didn’t realize existed. Suppose, for example, your company is headquartered in in Indiana, but you have a call center in Minnesota, which has a ‘ban the box” law; a distribution facility in Massachusetts, with its new prohibition on salary information; and another distribution facility in California, where records of some misdemeanor drug convictions are off-limits for employers after just two years. Can you use a single application and hiring process for all your facilities? I think it’s pretty clear that you’d be treading on shaky ground.

That’s why it’s so important to work with knowledgeable business partners, and to draw upon their expertise. Background screening companies must juggle the laws and other requirements from jurisdictions throughout the nation so that we can investigate the personal histories of an ever-more-mobile population. If a candidate for a job opening with your company has worked in Alabama, California, Illinois, and Florida during the last six years, we have to be cognizant of the relevant laws in each of those states when sharing information with you. We may have access to all sorts of information about that candidate, but we’re required to scrape off anything that you’re not allowed to see. Much as we may think you should be aware of the details about her arrest for misdemeanor possession in Sacramento four years ago, giving you that information would violate the law there.

We frequently become a legal resource for our clients and work with legal counsel throughout the U.S. who keep us up-to-date on changes in the law. Because we’re careful about complying with laws and regulations, our clients are less likely to find themselves on the wrong side of legal disputes.

That’s why it can be dangerous to choose vendors for critical services such as background screening by price alone, or by assuming that one vendor is just like another. When a prospective client tells me that their primary goal is to minimize the costs associated with background screening, I know we’re not going to be a good match. There’s always someone who will do the work more cheaply, but if they’re not familiar with or following all the rules, they could hurt your company – either by failing to identify a prospective hire as a poor choice, or by landing you on the losing side of a lawsuit.

Thanks to the internet, your company can do business with more vendors than ever. That access can be a wonderful thing, but convenience doesn’t replace good-old-fashioned due diligence. As doing business becomes more complex, you need to be certain that the companies who claim to work as your partner really are looking out for your best interests. It’s a lot more prudent to ask tough questions up front than to find yourself being asked even tougher ones in court.

Mike McCarty is CEO of Danville-based Safe Hiring Solutions.

  • Perspectives

    • Mitigating Your Company’s Cybersecurity Risk

      Frequently, I encounter people who think that a software developer understands all languages and can “fix” anything tech related. While that may be true for a few, areas of expertise within tech evolve as rapidly as the technology itself. For instance, there was a time (not long ago) when operating in the cloud was revolutionary. Today, it is considered best practices for some or all of an organization to function within a cloud. Managed information technology began with...

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • (photo courtesy Dax Norton)

      Whitestown Tops Indiana's Fastest-Growing Communities

      The Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business says Whitestown in Boone County is Indiana's fastest-growing community for the eighth consecutive year. The center says the town's population nearly tripled, from 3,132 in 2010 to 8,627 last year. Westfield in Hamilton County is not far behind. Its population grew 5.2 percent in 2018, according to information reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. Other communities on the list include...

    • (Image courtesy of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.)

      Indy-to-Paris Flight Celebrates One Year

      One year after the first nonstop flight from Indianapolis International Airport to Paris, Airport Authority Executive Director Mario Rodriguez says the flight is "fully meeting our expectations." He says, on average, more than 1,000 passengers per week fly between Indianapolis and Paris. Delta Air Lines Flight 500 marked IND's first year-round, nonstop transatlantic air service to Europe. The airline increases the route's frequency throughout the spring, summer and fall...

    • (photo courtesy of Farmer's Fridge)

      Farmer's Fridge Expands to Indianapolis

      A Chicago-based company is looking to make fresh, healthy food as convenient in Indianapolis as a candy bar. Farmer’s Fridge has expanded to more than a dozen locations in the Indy market with its "smart fridges" the size of vending machines, which feature a variety of freshly-made products such as salads, bowls and snacks. Rachel Rischall, director of communications for Farmer's Fridge, says the food is made fresh every day and shipped to nearly 300 fridges in...

    • The Waterside project aims to transform 100-acres of the former GM Stamping Plant site. (photo courtesy of Ambrose Property Group)

      Ambrose, Glick Partner on Waterside

      Indianapolis-based Ambrose Property Group has announced a key partnership for the redevelopment of the former GM Stamping Plant in downtown Indianapolis. The commercial real estate firm is teaming up with the Gene B. Glick Co. to build and manage apartments as part of the $1.4 billion mixed-use redevelopment project. Ambrose says the partnership is also part of plans to catalyze "philanthropic and community-centric strategies to strengthen Indianapolis." The firm also...

    • Pearl will take the position on May 22

      Bloomington Launches Online Economic Development Tool

      The city of Bloomington has officially launched its new online development tool. The platform will streamline public data for current and prospective business owners and entrepreneurs.