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NRF Survey Finds Nearly All Retailers Rely on Background Checks to Keep Consumers, Companies Safe

For Immediate Release
Stephen E. Schatz (202) 626-8119 or SchatzS@NRF.com

NRF Survey Finds Nearly All Retailers Rely on Background Checks to Keep Consumers, Companies Safe
-EEOC Guidelines Could Prohibit Retailers from Asking About Criminal History-

Washington, October 4, 2011 – As retailers across the country begin to hire hundreds of thousands of holiday employees, the National Retail Federation today released a survey that illustrates the importance of employee background screenings in keeping customers safe. The survey, completed by retail executives from 96 of the nation’s leading department stores, mass merchants, discounters, drug stores, grocery stores and restaurants, examines retailers’ use of background screenings during the application and employment process.

Nearly all retailers (97%) utilize background screening in some form during the application, hiring and employment process, according to the survey. Additionally, companies routinely conduct pre-employment background checks on a wide range of associates from senior executives (85.7%) to store associates (55.2%), with a particular focus on customer-facing employees and managers.

“Background screenings help retailers ensure the safety of both shoppers and employees from the very beginning of the application process,” said NRF senior asset protection advisor Joe LaRocca. “Pre-employment screenings are one of the tools retailers use as a first line of defense, especially during the holiday season when companies many have hundreds – if not thousands – of applications to sift through.”

A majority of retailers report screening is conducted for most job categories, including store, distribution center and corporate office employees, since each of these positions work with customers, manage merchandise or handle sensitive information. Even senior executives undergo background screening in most companies.

- Retailers Concerned Over Potential EEOC Guidelines to “Ban the Box” -

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is currently considering new guidelines that would prevent all businesses from asking potential employees about their criminal history during the application process. The so-called “Ban-the-Box” guidelines, coined by retailers based on the criminal history box seen on most application forms, was the focus of a recent EEOC meeting in July 2011. The hearing examined employment barriers for convicted criminals and ways to ease criminal re-entry into the workforce. NRF joined a dozen other industry groups to express concerns over “banning-the-box” and outline its adverse impact on retailers, employees and – most importantly – consumers. New guidance could be issued by the EEOC as early as this month.

“A criminal history is not a scarlet letter for retail employment – in fact, retailers are able to overlook certain convictions based on position – but businesses need to understand who they are hiring right off the bat in order to keep customers safe,” said NRF senior asset protection advisor Joe LaRocca. “A convicted burglar shouldn’t be delivering pizzas to people’s homes and a person with multiple DUI convictions is not who you would want driving thousands of miles in a company vehicle. Understanding a potential employee’s prior work experience, education, customer service skills and criminal history helps retailers make intelligent hiring decisions for the ambassadors of their company brand and the safety of their customers.”

About the Survey
The NRF Background Screening Survey was created to get a better understanding of how retailers use background checks within their organizations. This survey contains responses from 96 executives representing department/large box stores, discount, drug, grocery, restaurant and specialty retailers and was conducted in July 2011.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF’s global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. In the U.S., NRF represents an industry that includes more than 3.6 million establishments and which directly and indirectly accounts for 42 million jobs – one in four U.S. jobs. The total U.S. GDP impact of retail is $2.5 trillion annually, and retail is a daily barometer of the health of the nation’s economy. www.nrf.com.