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Legal Ambiguity in Managerial Assessments of Criminal Records

NCJ Number
Law & Social Inquiry Volume: 40 Issue: 1 Dated: Winte 2015 Pages: 175-204
Date Published
30 pages
In an age of widespread background checks, this study examined how managers in different organizational contexts navigate legal ambiguity in assessing applicants' criminal history information, based on interview data obtained in a recent field experiment.
The study found that some organizations set explicit standards to guide hiring decisions, providing concrete policies on how to treat applicants with records. Where such procedural mandates are lacking, however, hiring managers turn to a micro-rational decision process to evaluate potential risk and liability. These individualized approaches create inconsistencies in how the law is interpreted and applied across organizations, as evidenced by actual hiring behavior in the field experiment. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2015