Background Screening 101 Part 2

The background screening process may seem simple to those outside of human resource departments.  The process seems to be placing an Ad for a job position, then sorting through resumes, then having interviews for the candidates that look the most promising and then picking the best person for the job and hiring them.  This process as highlighted appears to be straight forward and rudimentary.   However, every employer needs to understand the laws that govern the employment screening industry and must remain compliant with such laws and guidelines to avoid legal action from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other agencies.  These type of agencies work to ensure that the hiring process is non-discriminatory and that all applicants have a fair chance at gainful employment.

The truth is that hiring is a complicated process these days as employers and hiring agents need to make sure their hiring process is legal and ethical and does not conflict with US Federal, State and Local laws and guidance’s.  The core of the hiring process is employment screening both pre-employment screening and post-employment screening.  This process is essential to any sound hiring practices and helps verify information on a resume and looks into the life experience and background data of a prospective employee.  Employers should utilize a third party background screening company to help them gain access to these necessary background reports and also to assist employers in creating or maintaining background screening policies that are compliant with all pertinent laws and regulations.

The use of public records, specifically consumer credit reports, is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and is enforced predominantly by the US Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The FCRA also has clear rules in its section covering employment background checks.  It states that all employers using consumer reports including criminal history reports must get written permission from the job applicant to run the background checks and must tell the applicant if the criminal record report was in-part or wholly responsible for the applicant not getting hired.  This adverse action letter must be given to the applicant along with a summary of their rights under the FCRA and the applicant has a right to dispute these records along with other rights.

Other than credit information consumer reports like criminal history reports are protected and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under the authority of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its various updates and expansions.  There are clear rules that employers have to abide by when selecting new employees.  The FCRA and EEOC make it clear how criminal records are to be utilized during the employment screening process through its documents and guidance’s.  In the end it is a best practice for employers to work with employment screening companies both for gaining access to pertinent background reports like criminal reports, SSN reports, driving records, sex offender reports and various other reports or verifications/reference checks as well as to help them create or maintain a legally compliant background screening and hiring policy.

To read more about this subject read recent press release found here.

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