Check out this week’s Compliance News Flash with blurbs about:

  • Salary history bans and employment applications
  • FCRA enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission
  • FCRA related litigation helpful to employers
  • EU-Japan data transfers
  • Changes to San Francisco’s Fair Chance Ordinance

Click here to read the News Flash.

Check out the latest compliance updates in the Compliance News Flash, which includes quick updates on:

  • The Connor v. First Student case in California and the constitutionality of ICRAA and CCRAA, applicable to employment and tenancy screening.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, now the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and new leadership.
  • Massachusetts and Ban the Box enforcement actions.
  • An upcoming webinar by my colleagues Kevin Coy and Brad Kelley called The Cybersecurity Landscape: Regulatory Issues for CRAs on June 27, 2018.
  • The Hireright and GIS merger.

Happy Reading!

Background screening is a key step in hiring and the onboarding process, but there are a litany of federal and state laws in the US that establish certain obligations on employers as well as provide applicants with certain rights, including from discrimination.

Join Montserrat Miller, Partner, Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, and iCIMS Genera Counsel, Neal Dittersdorf, on Thursday, May 10th at 3:00 pm EST for Remaining Compliant During the Background Screening Process, the latest webinar in iCIMS quarterly Compliance Webinar Series. During this session, attendees will learn about:

  • The requirement to get applicants consent through the disclosure & authorization form
  • The adverse action process
  • How Fair Chance Hiring laws affect employment screening
  • Pay equity laws
  • GDPR compliance

Click here to register.

I hope everyone is staying warm!

Please enjoy Friday’s edition of my Compliance News Flash with blurbs about:

  • California’s new immigration law which applies to employers
  • EU-U.S. Privacy Shield
  • Changes to background investigations by the National Background Investigations Bureau and Department of Defense
  • An update to New Jersey’s Ban the Box law
  • The return of Congress

Click here to read the Compliance News Flash.

I will be presenting a free webinar on Wednesday, September 13 at 2 pm EST on Fair Chance Hiring Ordinances, also known as Ban the Box ordinances.  I will discuss what these ordinances are, the role they play during the hiring process, and where/how they apply to private employers (including specific state and city examples).

Nationwide over 150 cities and counties have adopted Ban the Box ordinances requiring employers consider a job applicant’s qualifications first, without the stigma of a criminal record. These initiatives provide job applicants a fair chance by removing the conviction history question on the job application and delaying the background check inquiry until later in the hiring process.  But many Ban the Box ordinances go beyond removing the criminal history question from the job application and require that employers take additional steps during the hiring process, such as conducting individualized assessments. Learn more on the free webinar.

The webinar is sponsored by the ClearStar Academy.  To register please click here.

Please join me next week for a discussion about what employers need to be aware of regarding pre-employment background checks to ensure you have compliant background screening policies and procedures in place. Some of the topics I will discuss include the Fair Credit Reporting Act, state law regarding restrictions on the use of credit information for employment screening purposes, the EEOC’s guidance on the use of criminal history records, and Fair Chance Hiring laws (aka Ban the Box ordinances).

The webinar is hosted by ClearStar.  Please register by clicking here.

Details: The free webinar is Wednesday, March 15, 2017 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT.

A series of recent class action complaints against employers leads me to write about what employers can do to mitigate risk with respect to their background screening program.

I’m talking about pre-employment background checks when an employer uses the services of a third-party background screening company. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.) employers have two critical responsibilities when using the services of a third-party background screening firm to request background checks on prospective employees.

Employers must do the following in order to comply with the FCRA when requesting a background check:

  1. Employers must provide prospective employees a clear and conspicuous disclosure regarding the fact that you will conduct a background check AND you must get the individual’s written authorization to conduct such. This is typically called the disclosure and authorization notice and it must be in a stand-alone document. The FCRA requires that when an employer requests a background check (aka a “consumer report”) for employment purposes they must provide “a clear an conspicuous disclosure” in writing “before the report is procured or caused to be procured, in a document that consists solely of the disclosure” and “the consumer has authorized in writing….” (15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(2)(A)(i)-(ii))
  2. Employers must follow the adverse action process, which is potentially a two-step process. The first step is typically referred to as the “pre-adverse action step” and you cannot send a final “no hire” letter until you complete this step. So, hypothetically speaking, after completing step 1 above you receive the results of a background check from your background screening vendor. The report indicates a criminal history or some other adverse item of information.  Based on this information, you may decide not to hire the individual.  Now what?  Before you take any final adverse action you must first provide the individual with a copy of the report you are reviewing and a summary of their rights as prescribed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  This allows the prospective employee to review the report and alert you if any information contained therein is inaccurate or incomplete and also to act on that incorrect or incomplete information with the background screening company. You should wait at least five business days before taking any final adverse action although realize that in some states and cities, Fair Chance laws and ordinances (aka Ban the Box laws and ordinances) may impose greater time periods. For more about Ban the Box, click here.

At a minimum, employers must follow above two steps to comply with the FCRA.  Depending on what state or city you are in there may be additional requirements, but these are the basics when doing pre-employment background checks on prospective employees.

Which brings me to the class action litigation and a sampling of the cases brought against employers for alleged non-compliance with the FCRA related to steps 1 and/or 2 described above.

  • Class action complaint filed against an airline catering and provisioning company (Case No. 2:17-cv-1298) for allegedly not following the pre-adverse action process.
  • Class action complaint filed against a major retail pharmacy chain (Case No. 5:17-cv-6019) for not providing the proper disclosure that a background check would be conducted and failure to follow the pre-adverse action process.
  • Class action complaint filed against a plasma provider (Case No. 5:17-cv-6018) for not following the pre-adverse action process.

There is a very active plaintiff’s bar filing complaints against both employers and background screening companies for alleged violations of the FCRA.  They do not discriminate based on type of employer or size of your business.  You’ve been warned.

But not all is lost as these are curable compliance issues. You start by reviewing your background screening program–your policies and procedures–with counsel versed in the FCRA and state consumer protection laws and guidance that govern background screening. You need to go step by step through the hiring process to understand where you may have deficiencies and need to shore up your compliance. For instance–if, as an employer, you utilize an adjudication matrix or screening standards to automatically classify individuals as “ineligible” for hire and automatically proceed to send a no hire letter we should talk about your background screening program and whether it complies with the requirements of the FCRA.  Or, your FCRA disclosure and authorization has a lot of “extraneous language” such as a release of liability language, we should talk.  Willful violations of the FCRA are eligible for statutory damages of $100 to $1,000/violation, plus punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

We would be happy to talk to you about your background screening program. Please contact Montserrat Miller at Arnall Golden Gregory at montserrat.miller@agg.com or 202-677-4038 for assistance.

Know Before You Hire: 2017 Employment Screening Trends is the title of a good article by Roy Maurer at SHRM.  Roy interviews multiple industry experts, including myself, asking for their opinions on what is trending in employment background screening.  Some of the trends you will read about include the increase in Ban the Box measures affecting employers, background screening of contingent workers, as well as the use of social media in the hiring process. To read the entire article click here.