07 Feb Employment Background Check and The Fair Credit Reporting Act
Employment background check cases are on the rise. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) is doing its job and protecting consumers nationwide from the improper handling of consumer reports during the employment application process. Consumers should be aware of their rights and protect themselves from misconduct of employers.
Receive Written Consent
The FCRA sets out guidelines for employers to follow during the screening process of job applicants. Under the statute there are two specific duties that employers are expected to comply with during the screening process. First, an employer must provide an applicant with a disclosure stating its intention to conduct a background check. The employer must have the prospective employee’s written consent to conduct the screening. This consent must be in a separate document and cannot be included with any other paperwork or information. This consent is required prior to accessing an applicant’s report from any of the credit reporting agencies.
Follow the Adverse Action Process
The second duty of an employer under the FCRA is that it must adhere to the adverse action process. After procuring a consumer report with the prospective employee’s consent, should the employer decide not to hire the applicant based on any information contained in the report, the employer must first provide the employee with a copy of the report used to make this decision and a summary of the employee’s rights under the FCRA. The purpose of this step is to allow the prospective employee an opportunity to review the report and notify the employer if any information contained in the report is inaccurate. This is also the time for the applicant to dispute any information with the background reporting agency.
Make Sure Your Credit Report Information is Correct
When applying for a job, it is best to first review your credit report and ensure the information contained in your report is accurate and at your personal best. The reality is, employers do rely on information contained in consumer reports, in addition to a job interview, as a basis to determine whether or not to offer an employment opportunity, however, mistakes can happen. The FCRA is in place to protect employee rights. Employers must follow the letter of the law or face the potential of a lawsuit. Violations of the statute may result in statutory damages of up to $1000 per violation, plus punitive damages and attorney’s fees, for a successful plaintiff.