"There is widespread interest in obtaining access to criminal history record information from reliable sources for the purpose of screening an individual's suitability for employment, licensing, or placement in positions of trust. The interest comes from private and public employers, as well as non-profit organizations that place employees and volunteers to work with vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and disabled persons. The interest is based on a desire or perceived need to evaluate the risk of hiring or placing someone with a criminal record in particular positions and is intended to protect employees, customers, vulnerable persons, and business assets. Employers and organizations are subject to potential liability under negligent hiring doctrines if they fail to exercise due diligence in determining whether an applicant has a criminal history that is relevant to the responsibilities of a job and determining whether placement of the individual in the position would create an unreasonable risk to other employees or the public. In addition to addressing this litigation risk, employers want to assess the risks to their assets and reputations posed by placing persons with criminal histories in certain positions. To meet these business needs, employers can and frequently do ask applicants whether they have a criminal history. Such employers and organizations want access to criminal history records to determine whether applicants are answering the question about their criminal history truthfully and completely."
United States Department of Justice: http://www.usdoj.gov/