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Keeping a Close Eye on Compliance:

FCRA Disclosure and Authorization Forms

No doubt, you already know the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has strict regulations in place to govern your pre-employment background screening process—and that failure to meet these regulations when screening your candidates can quickly get you into some pretty expensive legal trouble. It’s no secret that class action attorneys, year after year, continue to pursue employers and Consumer Reporting Agencies that are not in strict compliance with FCRA requirements.

Before we get too much further, let’s take a quick look at why these regulations are in place to begin with.

The FCRA was enacted to help ensure consumer protection

Short and simple. It’s about the privacy of consumer information—knowing what information is collected, and how that information can be used by lenders, credit issuers, and yes, even employers. During background screening, this protection also extends to information like criminal/arrest records.

In short, if you’re a U.S.-based business, of any size, public or private, your pre-employment background screening program is subject to FCRA regulation compliance.

Two important requirements: FCRA Disclosure and Authorization

Employers must begin all candidate background screening with two critical steps:

  • Disclosure: You must properly inform candidates that you will be performing a background screen
  • Authorization: And, you much obtain the candidate’s permission for this background screen

Let’s take a closer look at what is required for both.

Disclosure: Clearly notifying candidates that you intend to perform background screening as part of a wholly informed hiring decision. This disclosure must be clear (direct language, easy to understand), conspicuous (prominent, not deeply embedded in other forms or fine print), and presented as a stand-alone document.

Authorization: Also as a self-contained document, a clear candidate acknowledgement that background screening will be conducted as a pre-employment requirement. This can be presented jointly with the Disclosure, but must be on two separate and printable pages. As part of the authorization, the client will also acknowledge that the company is an equal-opportunity employer and follows all fair hiring practices.

That said, what can go wrong? Well . . . without close attention, a lot!

At most risk, improperly worded presented background check disclosure and authorization forms that do not follow FCRA requirements to the letter are magnets for class action litigation. Like we mentioned above, the FCRA requires clear, conspicuous disclosure as well as candidate written authorization prior to performing a background screen employment. Furthermore—and this is detail attorneys are embracing—FCRA requires the disclosure and authorization forms exist as stand-alone documents. (FCRA section 604(b)(2)).

It is the End User’s responsibility to manage the forms they provide to candidates. Disclosure and authorization forms can typically be signed physically or electronically. However, your company or organization should always consult with your legal team to confirm you are utilizing the appropriate forms, as FCRA regulations evolves over time, as does state-by-state legislation.

A-Check Global has consistently communicated the importance of disclosure and authorization form compliance to our clients. While U.S. employers are ultimately responsible for ensuring their hiring practices comply with federal and state requirements, we’re here to help.

Ask us about our FCRA Form Tool Kit

We offer a convenient Authorization for Background Investigation Form Kit which helps make it easier to comply with FCRA and applicable state-by-state requirements. Our document includes all the components necessary to customize your Forms.

For more information and access to this Tool Kit, please contact us at clientsupport@acheckglobal.com or 1-877-345-2021.

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Compliance Clip February 2020

EMPLOYER COMPLIANCE

UPDATE: New Version of Form I-9 approved

On January 31, 2020, USCIS announced an update to the (paper version) of Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. This update was approved on October 21, 2019. Employers using the paper version should begin using the updated paper Form I-9 as of January 31, 2020, but have until April 30, 2020 to discontinue use of the previous paper version (Rev. 07/17/2017 N). The electronic version will be updated before this mandatory cutoff date of April 30, 2020, and we will keep you informed as we learn more.

USCIS made the following changes:
Form

Revised the Country of Issuance field in Section 1 and the Issuing Authority field (when completing the fillable form online).

Instructions
Clarified who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer
Updated USCIS website addresses
Provided acceptable document clarifications
Updated the process for requesting the paper Form I-9
Updated the DHS Privacy Notice
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SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

PA MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACT: Court Finds Implied Wrongful Discharge Cause of Action
In a recent decision, a Pennsylvania county court ruled that the state’s Medical Marijuana Act creates a private cause of action for employees who have been terminated for their off-duty use of prescribed medical marijuana. The ruling is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, but follows a line of cases from other jurisdictions that have similarly found that lawful medical marijuana users can sue their employers under similar circumstances. Pennsylvania employers should take note of this important decision, as we continue to monitor and report on this developing issue.
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AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX LAW

MARYLAND Bans the Box
Effective January 1, 2020, Maryland employers may not, at any time before the first in-person interview, require an applicant to disclose whether he or she has a “criminal record” or has been the subject of criminal accusations. An employer may require the applicant to disclose that information during the first in-person interview. An employer is prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against an applicant or employee who complains of a violation of the law.
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LOUIS Enacts Ban the Box Ordinance Applicable to Private Employers
The ordinance prohibits employers located within the City of St. Louis with 10 or more employees from asking about criminal history on applications and hiring forms. Employers are also barred from posting job advertisements that exclude applicants with a criminal history and from using exclusionary language in applications or other hiring forms. Employers are further prohibited from asking about or investigating an applicant’s criminal background until after the applicant has been interviewed and deemed qualified for the position. Employers may not attempt to circumvent these restrictions by seeking publicly available information about an individual’s criminal history.
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DATA PRIVACY

BREXIT UPDATE: What Does This Mean for Data Privacy?
In a statement on January 29, the Information Commissioner’s Office said the following: “The UK will leave the European Union on January 31 and enter a Brexit transition period. During this period, which runs until the end of December 2020, it will be business as usual for data protection. The GDPR will continue to apply.”
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BRAZIL’S Data Protection Law
With less than a year remaining before Brazil’s General Data Protection Law (referred to as the LGPD) takes effect, HR professionals should start preparing.

The LGPD—which regulates how companies, including employers, must process personal data such as employees’ identification numbers—takes effect August 15, 2020.
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SALARY HISTORY

NEW YORK Joins Other States in Banning Salary History Questions
As of January 6, 2020, New York employers are prohibited from inquiring about an applicant’s prior salary. The law applies to all public and private employers within New York State and covers applicants and employees who have taken an affirmative step to seek full-time, part-time, or temporary/seasonal employment with an employer. The law does not apply to independent contractors, freelance workers, or other contract workers unless they are to work through an employment agency.
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Questions? We’re here to help!

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New Version of Form I-9 published

On Jan. 31, 2020, USCIS published the Federal Register notice announcing a new version of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

This new version contains minor changes to the form and its instructions. Employers should begin using this updated form as of Jan. 31, 2020.

The notice provides employers additional time to make necessary updates and adjust their business processes. Employers may continue using the prior version of the form (Rev. 07/17/2017 N) until April 30, 2020. After that date, they can only use the new form with the 10/21/2019 version date. The version date is located in the lower left corner of the form.