At Protus3, we believe that employers should have as much relevant information as possible in order to make the best hiring decisions. We have always prided ourselves on the fact that we report everything we possibly can when conducting pre-employment background investigations. This included everything from felonies all the way down to minor traffic offenses.
The FCRA allows us to report all convictions (at any time) and charges in the last seven years (as “any other adverse item of information”). We have always included all infractions and traffic offenses when available.
Starting July 1, Protus3 will no longer report certain traffic offenses unless requested by the client. A partial list of these offenses include:
- Expired/no inspection
- Fail to carry valid driver’s license
- Fail to wear seatbelt
- Improper equipment, speedometer
- Expired registration card or tag
- Fail to notify DMV of address change
- Drive or allow motor vehicle with no registration
We will still report more serious traffic offenses, including:
- Driving while impaired
- Driving while license revoked
- Hit/run, fail to stop, property damage
- Operate vehicle without insurance
- Fictitious or altered title or registration card or tag
- Possess or display altered, fictitious, or revoked driver’s license
- Reckless driving
So why are we doing this?
We have three main reasons.
These traffic offenses aren’t relevant to most jobs. Most of these are regulatory offenses where there is no apparent intent to cause harm. As such, they shouldn’t be a factor in consideration for employment.
Reports will be easier to read. We’re always looking for ways to make our reports clearer, simpler, and easier for our clients to read and interpret. Removing these traffic offenses should make it easier to focus on more serious offenses that may be relevant to the job.
People of color are disproportionately represented in criminal records. This includes minor traffic offenses. As a company, we cannot change the nature of the criminal justice system. However, we can make this change to our reporting in order to lessen the impact to applicants of color.
As we talk with our clients during this process, we plan to reevaluate our process to determine what other adjustments should be made.
For guidance on considering criminal records in pre-employment background investigations, visit the website of the EEOC.
For more information about race and criminal justice:
- NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheet
- Prison Policy Initiative
- The Sentencing Project
I’ve been conducting background investigations for almost 15 years. I look at criminal records nearly every working day, especially records for North Carolina. I completely believe that “driving while black” is a real phenomenon because I can see it in the data.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, “driving while black” implies that a motorist may be stopped by a police officer largely because of racial bias rather than any visible violation of traffic law (Wikipedia).
Where do I see this? When I look at criminal records of applicants, I’m generally not looking at race unless they have a common name (John Smith) and I need extra identifiers. Some time ago, I started trying to guess the race of the applicant based on the criminal history. By far, the applicants with numerous minor traffic offenses were black. (Side note: The categories for race in North Carolina’s record-keeping system are white, black, Asian, Indian, other, and unknown.)
What does this mean? This means that people of color are either:
- Stopped more often
- Cited more often
- Offend more often
In short, two of those three things suggest inequity in the system.
I started thinking about this inequity some time ago. As a result of recent events, I started to ask myself if there was some way we could make a difference. When we started looking at traffic offenses in pre-employment backgrounds, we realized that we could change the way we reported information and still make sure our clients had enough information to make good decisions.
You can learn more about our background investigation process here.