This article will help you:
- Reduce bias and compliance risk from manual review of your background reports
- Automatically filter irrelevant offenses to be more efficient and compliant
- Create a background check policy that complies with the EEOC’s guidance
- Set criteria in the Positive Adjudication Matrix to de-emphasize certain offenses
This article is for the following user roles: admin
Looking for a place to start with positive adjudication? Learn how you can make your adjudication process more efficient and compliant in our three-minute video:
What is positive adjudication?
Adjudication is a process in which a company reviews background check results against the company’s standards to make an assessment on whether to hire the candidate.
Checkr’s software-based adjudication matrix allows you to define which types of charges you want to display on your background checks. Charges can be filtered by charge severity (e.g. misdemeanor vs. felony), dismissal status, and time elapsed since disposition date. So, for example, you can:
- Hide or remove misdemeanor offenses in certain categories
- Hide or remove any offense that isn't relevant to the job duty
- Hide or remove dismissed records, even in states where they're reportable
- Hide or remove offenses that occurred further in the past
Filtered records will be moved to a separate section in the report, or can be hidden entirely.
Why use this matrix?
Adjudication is a manual, time-intensive process that may subject you to legal risk if done inconsistently. Checkr’s Positive Adjudication Matrix (“PAM”) automates much of the adjudication process, saving you time and reducing your compliance risk, while also resulting in fairer hiring practices.
In fact, companies using Checkr’s Positive Adjudication Matrix have reduced manual report review work by up to 40%.
Many background check companies hire agents, sometimes offshore, to manually compare a client’s custom matrix to each case being adjudicated. This process is manual, time-consuming (4 – 12 business hours per candidate), and error-prone.
Counties have different methods of reporting offenses, so you may see many different ways to report the same offense. This lack of standardization of charge types across jurisdictions can lead to adjudication errors and make it difficult to make the right assessment.
The Positive Adjudication Matrix has three main benefits:
- Lower costs: Lowers your adjudication personnel cost, because fewer reports require review
- Faster onboarding: Reduces onboarding time, because fewer reports will require manual review
- Lower compliance risk: Removes bias from the adjudication process and enables a more consistent and compliant hiring process
Enable the matrix
A “positive adjudication matrix” sounds daunting, but setting it up is quite simple. You’ll want to update it as time goes on to refine your configuration.
Users with admin roles can go to Screenings Settings > Adjudication Matrix.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to enable this for your Checkr account or if you have any questions about how the tool works. Once you’ve enabled the matrix, dismissed charges will be filtered out by default (see “Settings” below if you want to change this).
Click Edit to configure your matrix.
From this screen, you’ll also be able to download a handy PDF of your customized configuration to share with other members of your adjudication team.
Decide what to filter
By default, Checkr will report all offenses within your package scope that are legally permissible (in other words, records that haven’t been expunged or records that are reportable under state or federal laws).
Some states, like California, don't allow reporting of any dismissals, but for states with no such restrictions, Checkr will by default report dispositions including convictions, dismissals, warrants, or pending cases.
Consider two factors when deciding what to filter: efficiency and compliance. Fortunately, these two often provide a win-win situation for your adjudication team and candidates.
If you don’t include any filters for positive adjudication, then you’ll likely end up seeing many reports in consider status, even if these reports have offenses that you’ve decided aren’t relevant to your decision-making process. Ultimately you would still engage these candidates because the offenses are irrelevant to the job duties or too far in the past.
As a result, your adjudication team will spend unnecessary time reviewing reports with minor and irrelevant offenses, and you may lose hireable candidates in the process (which could also open you up to legal and compliance risk). Instead, we recommend that you create filters in the Positive Adjudication Matrix to automatically clear candidates with these irrelevant offenses.
Example: Candidates with statutory violations (like fish and game violations) or minor traffic offenses may show up in consider status if you don’t filter them using the Positive Adjudication Matrix. These offenses are usually irrelevant to most job duties.
In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidelines interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These guidelines advise employers to consider the specifics of each candidate who may be denied employment based on a background check.
Namely, you should consider:
- The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct
- The time that has passed since the offense, conduct and/or completion of the sentence
- The nature of the job held or sought
You are also encouraged to consider other factors like the number of offenses, employment history before and after the offense, rehabilitation efforts, and other circumstances. For a more detailed discussion of how to consider such records in your background check policy, see Best Practices for Employers Considering Criminal Records for Hiring.
In the spirit of individualized assessment, The Positive Adjudication Matrix lets you filter offenses by category, severity, age, and disposition. We’ll show you how in a moment, but first let’s cover why you may want to filter these.
- Category: The Positive Adjudication Matrix groups related offenses into categories so that you can consistently apply job related adjudication criteria to similar crimes. Offenses are grouped together based on independent research, as well as feedback from employers and end users. Checkr built the matrix using groups of crimes that are consistently treated the same way.
- Severity: The Positive Adjudication Matrix divides offenses by severity level: misdemeanors (including infractions, citations, and other minor offenses) and felonies. Consideration of the severity of a crime is an essential component to individualized assessment, so you may want to treat less severe crimes within a category differently.
- Time Since Disposition: To comply with the EEOC guidance on time that has passed since the offense, you may want to filter out less recent offenses.
- Disposition: Many employers/end users choose not to show dismissed records because they don’t consider dismissed records to be an accurate reflection of one’s criminal history for employment purposes.
Example: Without any filters, you would see relatively minor offenses such as petty theft or DUI from years ago, and generally you should consider the nature and age of the offense. You may choose to age-limit these types of offenses to shape an overall background check policy that is compliant with Title VII and comparable state employment laws.
Set your filtering criteria
- When logged in as an admin, go to Screenings Settings > Adjudication Matrix.
- Click Edit on the matrix you want to edit.
- Optional: For staffing companies with multiple clients, or companies who adjudicate different role types with different criteria, you can use programs to set different adjudication filters for each client or role. Create different matrices under Program Adjudication Matrix.
- Category: In the matrix, hover over a charge to learn more about which charge types are included in each grouping. The Positive Adjudication Matrix makes adjudication more consistent by grouping similar charges, which may be reported differently across jurisdictions.
- Time Since Disposition: Choose which charges to filter from your criminal background checks, using the following options:
- Report all: This is the default option and will display all offenses within your package scope that Checkr is legally allowed to report
- Report none: This option will not display any instances of this charge (common for minor infractions or violations that are not relevant to job duties and would not prevent you from engaging with a candidate)
- Last [x] years: This option will display the offense if the final disposition date falls within a given number of years
- Severity (Misdemeanors vs. Felonies): The Positive Adjudication allows you to set different reporting standards for misdemeanors (including less serious offenses) and felonies, for better individualized assessment.
- Disposition: For each category, if you don’t want to see dismissed records at all, uncheck Show dismissed. If you’d like to see dismissed records only for a particular charge, you can then check Show dismissed for a specific offense.
- Click Save once you’re done.
You can see a complete audit history of changes made to your Positive Adjudication Matrix.
The Positive Adjudication Matrix filters many charges out of your report once you’ve set up filters. Now, you can decide whether you want to see those charges in a separate section of the report, or not at all.
If you don’t want to see the charges at all (which theoretically can make the adjudication process more objective), uncheck the Display charges… box.
Checkr's guidance should not be construed as legal advice, guidance, or counsel. Companies should consult their own legal counsel about their compliance responsibilities under the FCRA, Title VII, and applicable state laws. Checkr expressly disclaims any warranties or responsibility or damages associated with or arising out of information provided.