Report: Employers expanding background checks after #MeToo
- Employers are increasing the amount of background checks for new hires after a series of high-profile sexual harassment and assault claims, Marketplace reports.
- Rather than working off the list of references a candidate provides, HR consultant Corinne Jones told Marketplace, many are vetting through former colleagues, supervisors and even subordinates to ensure new hires won’t put them at risk.
- The pressure is increased in the financial sector, with new legislation in New York following recent laws in Washington state banning businesses from requiring employees to sign non-disclosure agreements prohibiting them from discussing any harassment disputes, Marketplace said. An employment law professor who spoke with the outlet said some employers are placing indemnification provisions in executives contracts that require executives to pay all legal costs and damages in the event of a suit brought by a victim of the executive's harassment.
Recent focus on the issue of harassment and assault has created a "cultural moment" in U.S. workplaces — as described by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) acting chair Victoria Lipnic — but the problem isn't new. Training demand has increased as well, with more businesses looking to mitigate risk, but even decades of conventional training in the workplace has had a negligible effect on stopping the practice, an EEOC task force found previously.
More women are being sought after to high-level positions in light of the issue. A majority of surveyed recruiters (80%) in one study said demand for women at C-suite level positions has increased as employers attempt to either rebrand themselves or avoid problems in the future.
Many steps are required to prevent harassment in the workforce, but any and all successful initiatives require the support of leadership figures. Debate over the merits of legal provisions, like nixing mandatory arbitration clauses and non-disclosure agreements for cases of sexual harassment and assault, among employment lawyers has proved contentious.