It’s funny how a tiny little box on an employment application can hold so much weight. But for retailers who are held accountable for the safety of their employees and patrons, that tiny little box can be the first line of defense in protecting their stores.
Earlier this week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a hearing to consider banning a certain tiny little box on employment application forms – the box that asks if applicants have a criminal history. The hearing came in response to a “Ban the Box” campaign to change EEOC guidance on the use of criminal background checks for prospective employees. How would this change policy? Supporters hope to have employers remove the criminal background box on employment applications. In a letter to the EEOC, NRF and a dozen other industry groups expressed concern over the potential policy, writing that “attempts to ease unemployment frustration or reentry desires should not come at the expense of keeping people and businesses safe from physical or financial harm.”
Background checks are widely used in our industry. In a recent poll of over 100 retailers, 97% reported that they utilize background screening as part of their applicant hiring process and 87% use criminal record checks. If requirements for background checks on employment applications change, an important tool used by most of the business community (retail included) could be severely impacted.
Shopping centers, malls and retail stores nationwide open their doors to the public every day. You don’t have to have a boarding pass, a special number or a first-class ticket to get into a store (unless Justin Bieber happens to be there). Retailers aim to provide safe and enjoyable environments in their stores and, most importantly, seek to protect their employees, their customers and their businesses. Removing a first line of defense, like that tiny little box on an employment application, leaves retailers, shoppers and the entire business community nationwide at a disadvantage.