When companies find that a potential employee has committed a crime, they generally have a policy in place. Some companies are willing to work with people who've been convicted and served their time. Others put into place a distinct rule to bar these people from employment. Where things get trick is when pending criminal charges are out there. Some companies never find this information because it may not show up on a criminal background check. For those companies that are savvy enough to check with the county website where an applicant is based, there are at least three approaches you can take once you discover those pending criminal charges.
Taking a case by case approach
Many employers find that a case by case approach is ideal when dealing with pending criminal charges. There's certainly a difference between a pending charge for disorderly conduct and one for armed robbery. You could make a determination on an applicant's status based upon the crime, your perceptions of the PR fallout, and what other qualities a person brings to the table. In some instances, asking the applicant to get his or her explanation can be a good way to get a feel for what you're dealing with.
Risk management and running from uncertainty
One of the issues with pending criminal charges is the uncertainty behind them. While companies might not be making a moral judgment on the applicant's character, they just don't have the ability to take on the risk with that employee when others are available. Pending criminal charges could work out in any number of ways. The person might end up being convicted, which could potentially lead to jail time or restrictive probation conditions that keep the person from being an effective employee. Not knowing can be difficult for a company, leading to an HR disaster as you have to come up with contingency plans. The better approach may be to simply go with a more certain and stable option.
The wait and see approach
Companies can sometimes afford to use a wait and see approach. If you aren't looking to fill a position right away, you might want to see what happens with the case. If the charges are dropped or the person happens to win at trial, you could move forward with their job application. After all, it might be unfair to hold against them criminal charges that weren't proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Whether you can take this approach depends heavily on your capacity to wait and your ability to manage the hiring process through the waiting period. Most companies will need to make a decision sooner than the criminal justice system is willing to play itself out.
If you're in charge of hiring, you need to know about the pending criminal charges for every applicant and even your employees. Some employees or job seekers will look to hide this information, so do your homework and find the charges. This can help you avoid the uncertainty of looming charges or the bombshell that will come when the person is eventually convicted of a crime.