What Employers Need to Know or even better - Never Forget!

  • 3/9/2016
  • Raquel Trevino
What Employers Need to Know or even better - Never Forget! image
Based on a joint publication of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, here are a few pointers that all employers should keep in mind when running Background Checks.

When evaluating a pool of applicants there are multiple agencies (EEOC, FTC, FCRA…) looking over your shoulder making sure you are compliant with all of their laws and regulations. That is certainly not a pleasant position to be in, yet it is inevitable. Businesses need qualified candidates to fulfill their work load, so what can you do (as a business) to ensure the best candidates while avoiding lawsuits and distress?

As stated on the publication, Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know, “When making personnel decisions - including hiring, retention, promotion, and reassignment - employers sometimes want to consider the backgrounds of applicants and employees. For example, some employers might try to find out about the person's work history, education, criminal record, financial history, medical history, or use of social media. Except for certain restrictions related to medical and genetic information (see below), it's not illegal for an employer to ask questions about an applicant's or employee's background, or to require a background check.”

Pretty straight forward, yet the details on the “certain restrictions” can go on for pages. That is why business, like yourselves, rely on a CRA (Consumer Reporting Agency) like PDA Investigations to do the “heavy lifting” and provide you with the most accurate, reliable, and useful information that is available. It's always a good idea to review the laws of your state and municipality regarding background reports or information because some states and municipalities regulate the use of that information for employment purposes.

A good summary of key elements mentioned are:
Make sure you’re treating everyone equally. That is why we recommend the use of defined packages based on your industry needs.

Tell the applicant or employee you might use the information for decisions about his or her employment. This is a Disclosure Agreement and must be in writing and in a stand-alone format. It is recommended to use in-house counsel or other legal advice to ensure your documents are in compliance and do not combine other terms or agreements on this form.

Get the applicant’s or employee’s written permission to do the background check. This is an Authorization and Release form, which must be in clear and conspicuous wording.

It is also good to remember the “Ban-the-Box” movement. (Check our November blog post on this subject.) Avoid costly lawsuits by omitting questions related to criminal history from your company job application(s).

To read more about the publication and adverse action requirements go to: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/using-consumer-reports-what-employers-need-know.