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.
I-9 AND E-VERIFY
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.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING
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.
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.
BAN THE BOX
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!