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Background Check Requirements And Best Practices Guidelines

Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) joined forces to publish guideline documents to continue to educate employers regarding background checks and the applicable laws and regulations surrounding them. The information provided isn’t anything new, but it serves as a good reminder for employers that currently are conducting background checks for employment purposes or those employers who may plan to start doing so.

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by Deanna Arnold

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Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the
U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) joined forces to publish guideline
documents to continue to educate employers regarding background checks
and the applicable laws and regulations surrounding them. The
information provided isn’t anything new but it serves as a good reminder
for employers that currently are conducting background checks for
employment purposes or those employers who may plan to start doing so.
Here are some of the highlights:

  • Treat everyone equally – Do not check an applicant or employees’
    background based on their race, national origin, color, sex, religion,
    disability, genetic information or age. It is an illegal practice.
  • Follow the required procedures of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
    (FCRA) – The FCRA doesn’t apply to just credit/financial checks as
    indicated in the name. It applies to criminal history, character,
    general reputation, etc. Therefore, the procedures of the FCRA must be
    followed when conducting employment background checks. These include
    notifying the candidate/employee in a stand-alone document that the
    information from the background check may be used in the employment
    decision, notifying the candidate/employee of their rights under the
    FCRA as well as getting signed authorization from the
    applicant/candidate to conduct the background check. It’s important to
    note that the notice(s) must be separate from the application and cannot
    be in the application itself.
  • Do not discriminate – When the background check results are
    available, use the same standards for everyone regardless of any of the
    factors noted above and be careful to not base employment decisions on
    issues within the background results that may be more common among
    people of a certain class (race, sex, age, etc. as noted above).
  • Follow the FCRA requirements when taking an adverse action – When
    employers take adverse action (decide to not hire an applicant based on
    the results of the background check), they must complete a pre-adverse
    action notice and notify the person in advance with the required
    documents to allow them the opportunity to review the report and provide
    any explanation. After that process is completed, the adverse action
    notice must be processed in accordance with the requirements of the
    FCRA.
  • Retain the information for a 1 year period – Whether the applicant
    was hired or not, the records associated with the applicant must be
    retained for a minimum of 1 year (2 years for certain employers). After
    the record retention requirement has been met, the documents can be
    disposed of but must be done so securely.
  • Running background checks on employees isn’t something companies
    should take lightly as there are a lot of regulations around it that
    employers must be aware of beyond the guidelines noted here. Although
    the document published by these two federal agencies provide a wealth of
    information about nondiscrimination laws and compliance with the Fair
    Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), there are also many state and municipality
    laws that employers must also consider when conducting employment
    background checks that fall along the lines of what employers can and
    cannot ask for as well as the use of the information received.

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    It is important for companies to have a solid written policy
    regarding background checks and that policy is followed consistently
    within the guidelines and regulations of federal and state law.

    For more specific information about what is applicable to your company, call me with any questions or follow this link directly to the EEOC website to read the published guidelines.

    Deanna Arnold, PHR, is the president and owner of Cornelius, N.C.-based
    Employers Advantage LLC, which provides practical and sound solutions to
    meet the needs of your business in all aspects of human resources,
    including but not limited to, recruiting, benefits, employee relations,
    compliance, performance management, HRIS, workers compensation, safety,
    facilities/office management, and budgeting. She can be reached by
    emailing [email protected] or calling 980-422-7953. www.employersadvantagellc.com

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    Article courtesy of TIRE REVIEW.

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