Five Questions to Ask when Selecting a Background Screening Partner

Do they understand your business?

Your organization is unique, these times are unique, and what may have worked for you a year or two ago may not necessarily present a clear picture of what will continue to work as your company evolves. The same applies to the relationship between you and your background screening partner. It should be an ongoing discussion of your specific hiring needs and how your industry impacts your background screening program.

Any reputable background screening provider can provide a service. Taking it to the next level means partnering with a vendor that’s familiar with serving your industry. For example, the healthcare industry may require regulated occupational health screening services, or perhaps screening programs for volunteer or other non-personnel positions, while the transportation industry will require motor vehicle record services that require quick and convenient bulk uploads and periodic checks for their staff.

Of course, the screening services you order may change over time as your needs of your company and your industry change. It’s not a static process. Your screening company should always be available to discuss your specific needs, and should be flexible enough to make recommendations and adjustments for ongoing focus on your business success.

At A-Check Global, it’s exactly why we enjoy holding business reviews with clients. They are valuable opportunities to discuss specific goals together while also looking at real-world data to make informed and compliant decisions as a team.

Are they focused on compliance?

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.

That’s where the confusion can start. While there may be a belief that the background screening vendor is solely responsible for the compliance of the entire screening process, the reality is that it’s a shared responsibility between those that request consumer reports (a client end user) and those that compile the consumer report (A Consumer Reporting Agency like A-Check).

Language within important disclosure and authorization documents presented to job applicants can change over time, and state-by-state requirements can be cumbersome to understand and put in practice. It’s more important than ever before that your background screening partner has advanced experience with ensuring customers have what they need to remain compliant.

Are they Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) Certified?

As you may already know, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) “exists to advance excellence in the screening profession.” The PBSA was founded in 2003 as a non-profit association representing, guiding, and promoting ethics and performance standards of companies offering employment background screening services. PBSA Member companies—like A-Check Global—are defined as “consumer reporting agencies” and governed by Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) legislation.

As an active and founding member of the PBSA, we’ve been honored to work alongside this important industry association since its founding, and have been honored to achieve accreditation as, not just a business milestone, but also as valuable recognition of our ongoing commitment to maintaining the highest levels of both professional standards and customer service.

Keep in mind, PBSA membership does not result in an automatic Background Screening Agency Accreditation (BSAAP). In fact, the BSAAP is governed by a strict professional standard of specified requirements and measurements, and recognized widely as a critical seal of approval.

For our clients, this accreditation is an important element of the trust they put in us to provide quality, consistent, and compliant service. It’s definitely peace of mind knowing your screening partner has demonstrated a service commitment and a complex understanding of the background screening industry.

Are you still trying to get an answer to your question?

Customer service is probably among the top two or three pain points for most HR professionals. Well, actually, most people, even in their day to day lives. Chances are, we all have shared experiences of endless phone menus, unanswered messages, or worse, the hand-off to yet another live person who doesn’t know you, your account, or the answer to your question.

We don’t have to get too detailed here, because we all have a good idea of what it takes to provide excellent customer service, and how horrible it can be to receive unsatisfactory service from a business partner.

Simply put, your background screening partner should 1) have a dedicated customer support team who knows you and your account, 2) have secure account and information access across your support team so anyone can effectively and accurately answer your questions, 3) have notes and system alerts to help keep you updated on your background screens, and 4) maintain extended hours to serve when it’s convenient for you.

Have they invested in the customer AND candidate experience?

Your background screening partner should be taking advantage of HR technology to provide convenience, connectivity, and automation wherever possible. Their system should have the ability to integrate background screening processes into your current Applicant Tracking System (ATS)—meaning you can easily request a background screen and have secure access to the final report, all originating from the system you’re already using.

And likewise, your job applicants should have access to a straightforward, mobile-friendly application when asked to authorize and provide further information for the background screening process, or to self-schedule drug screens.

How can we help you?

That was only five questions. If you’re looking for a background screening partner, chances are you have many more to ask. We’d be honored to introduce you to A-Check Global.


Marijuana and Employment Drug Testing: What’s an Employer to Do?

It’s enough to make your head spin. Marijuana is legal for medical and/or adult recreational use in a growing number of U.S. states. However, testing positive during a drug test can be an issue for job applicants, employees, and employers alike. For employers and HR professionals, we assume trying to keep up with the velocity of new legalization has left you wondering just how these new laws are going to impact your drug testing policies.

From here on out, successfully navigating legalized marijuana legislation is going to be a challenge for organizations. Published statistics all point to increased marijuana use over the next five years (fueled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic), and U.S. legal marijuana market revenues are projected to reach $42 billion by 2025.

Marijuana and Federal Law

At the federal level, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substances are considered to have a high potential for dependency and no accepted medical use, making distribution of marijuana a federal offense. And in spite of ongoing legalization at the state level, this federal classification has not yet changed. As such, when it comes to drug testing, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to developing a program.

Because cannabis use remains illegal under federal law, employers within federal government regulated industries must maintain employment policies requiring pre-employment and random drug testing. While non-federally regulated employers are not required to include drug testing, keep in mind that there are still states and local governments that still enforce marijuana laws, and may require drug screening for certain positions.

Marijuana and State Law (Currently)

Legal use of marijuana (medical and recreational) varies from state to state. In 36 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is legal for those dealing with epilepsy or other particular illnesses to legally use marijuana for medical reasons.

In 15 states—Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington—the District of Columbia, and Guam, adults can legally use recreational marijuana.

Evolving Legislation

Let’s take a quick look at New York City, for example. Effective May 10, 2020, New York City enacted a law that considers testing of Marijuana for job applicants a discriminatory practice equivalent to denying employment to a job applicant based on race or gender. This law applies to all job applicants in New York City with the following exceptions:

  • Law enforcement positions
  • Construction workers on public projects
  • Jobs requiring a commercial license
  • Position involving the care of vulnerable persons
  • Positions that impact health or safety of the public

So, where to from here?

Regardless of state or local legislation, you as an employer have the legal right to promote and maintain an alcohol- and drug-free workplace. Likewise, you have the right to test employees (random) and job applicants (pre-employment screening) provided you clearly inform them of your organization’s substance abuse testing policies.

That said, drug screening for marijuana remains quite the debated topic. Especially in how it differs from alcohol, as alcohol does not linger in the bloodstream as cannabis does. A positive test does not mean someone is impaired at that moment. In fact, it’s widely proven that someone can fail a marijuana test days after using marijuana.

Be extremely careful when using marijuana testing results to make employment decisions. For example, if you decide to fire someone holding a medical marijuana card because of a positive drug test, it could potentially be litigated as workplace discrimination. In states like Nevada and New York, those using marijuana for a medical purpose, and holding a legal medical marijuana card, are considered legally disabled and have the same rights as others covered by disability laws which require employers to “reasonably accommodate” medical needs of an employee.

As a final thought, work closely with your legal counsel to:

  • Create standardized policies that effectively dictate all substance abuse and marijuana testing
  • Identify each job and jurisdiction to ensure compliance for each applicant/employee being tested
  • And, work closely with a resource you trust—like A-Check—to regularly confirm which states have legalized marijuana laws and what might be pending

While A-Check does not provide legal advice or counsel, we truly appreciate every opportunity to assist our clients, and welcome questions about your organization’s screening program.

We’re here to help.


Compliance Clips for February 2021


FTC Settles Tenant Background Screening Company Claim
Welcome to 2021, where—no surprise—compliance is still just as important. The Federal Trade Commission has reached a $4.25 million settlement regarding alleged unfair or deceptive acts in connection with background screening reports. More specifically, 1) identifiers did not reasonably match the applicant, 2) inconsistencies existed in identifiers, 3) records did not accurately reflect offenses, and 4) multiple entries existed for criminal records. This particular complaint alleged that reasonable procedures were not in place to assure the accuracy of the criminal and eviction records obtained from a third party vendor for tenant background screening reports. While these screens were presented to landlords and property management companies, it also is a very important example to illustrate why everyone at A-Check is committed to ensuring we meet your organization’s screening requests with attention to compliant business practices.

A Friendly Reminder about FCRA Requirements
As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.


Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is taking precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now MARCH 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.

Florida Public Employers: Every public employer, contractor, and subcontractor in Florida must now register with and use the E-Verify system to verify the work authorization status of all newly hired employees. E-Verify is the online system operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration that allows participating employers to electronically verify and confirm the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees. Both federal and Florida law prohibit employing individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States. Many states have legislation mandating E-Verify use, now including Florida.


What We’re Watching: Potential Legislation
Looking ahead, New York, Connecticut, and Virginia might be three states likely to legalize marijuana in 2021. And 2020 national Gallup polling hits an all-time high with 68% in favor of U.S. legalization. Currently, 36 states have enacted medical cannabis legislation, with 15 also allowing for the adult-use consumption and/or retail sale of marijuana. Although 2021 isn’t a big year for elections, there are indications that New York, Connecticut, and Virginia may consider cannabis law this year.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently announced the forgiveness and expungement of about 500,000 criminal cannabis cases, as mandated by the Illinois law that legalized the licensed sale of marijuana starting in 2020. Pardons were issued for 9,210 low-level cannabis convictions, while Illinois State Police have wiped clean more than 492,000 non-felony cannabis-related arrest records. The intent of the law is to reduce the impact of the war on drugs on minorities, who were disproportionately arrested and locked up for cannabis crimes.

New Jersey
Although there have been delays in legislative action, and after voters approved legalization in November, the governor of New Jersey recently reaffirmed commitment to passing laws regarding marijuana. Lawmakers introduced marijuana legislation last November, soon after voters approved cannabis reform. However, since then, it’s been subject to a number of changes and delays in legislative action.

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.


It’s now reported that as many as three-fourths of U.S. population lives within a Ban the Box jurisdiction. That’s nearly 40 states and 150+ cities and counties nationwide. Ban the Box legislation provides applicants a fair chance at employment by removing conviction and arrest history questions from job applications and delaying background checks until later in the hiring process, or even after a conditional offer has been made. We recently found a great site that clearly illustrates current states and localities with Ban the Box legislation in place.


New year, new privacy legislation. In 2021, we will likely see a wave of GDPR-like regulatory measures to address data protection and privacy around the world. With information security the focal point of a world that has made the shift to remote activity, this year may prove to be a year where countries not only catch up with their privacy legislation backlogs, but also work to enact 2021 privacy legislation. Here in the United States, three states (California, Nevada, and Maine) have enacted consumer privacy legislation, with 16 more introducing similar laws of their own. And, while there is federal law providing some degree of data protection, efforts are still being put forth to create an overarching framework to govern privacy law.


COVID-19 Rapid Infection At-Home Collection
Although Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dramatically impacted the business landscape worldwide, it is also encouraging to now see employers focused on safely and gradually welcoming their workforces back to the office. Depending on your company’s return to office policies, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing COVID-19 testing and surveillance solutions through A-Check’s medical partner networks. Through A-Check’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we offer an at-home swab collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.

Questions? We’re here to help!