Background checks play a vital role in the hospitality and tourism industry. Employees of hotels, resorts, recreation areas, and restaurants are expected to be trustworthy and provide an excellent customer experience. They have access to all types of sensitive areas including guest’s rooms, luggage, money handling and sometimes the care of children. The types of background checks recommended for hospitality and tourism applicants include criminal history, sex offender status, social security number identification, drug tests, credit reports and verification of previous employment, professional references, and educational degrees. It is vital for employers’ to conduct background checks to mitigate the risk of workplace violence, employee theft, and risk to guests as well as fellow employees.
“Ban the Box” laws, which eliminate questions about an applicant’s criminal history on employment applications, are becoming more widespread. Currently 13 states have laws which require an employer to wait until later in the hiring process to ask about criminal records or conducting criminal background checks. Nationwide almost 70 cities and counties, including New York City, have taken steps to implement “ban-the-box” policies. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has important criteria related to adverse hiring decisions based on a person’s criminal conviction record. These include the nature and gravity of the offense, the time passed since conviction and/or completion of the sentence and how the offense relates to the nature of the job held or sought.