Many states are passing laws that reinforce or extend the federal FCRA, so you need to make sure your background screening company understands them all.
The use of credit reports is not the only type of inquiry restricted by the FCRA. The name Fair Credit Reporting Act is in itself a misnomer, since the act refers to any information provided by a Consumer reporting Agency (CRA) in connection with employment screening.
"She’ll never know we screened her -- we’ll just tell her we found someone else."
"I know this applicant’s mother -- we don’t need to screen him."
"The report says he’s a felon -- that’s all I need to know."
These statements sound great and are often heard, but each of them may contravene the act and result in one of the ever-increasing number of cases of fines imposed by the Federal Trade Commission and the states.
Let’s address the three statements above.
Before any screening can be conducted, you must have the applicant’s signed consent "on a form for the purpose", and if you decide not to hire because of a report from a CRA, you must follow FCRA Adverse Action procedures.
If you are going to screen anyone for a job position, you must screen all applicants for that position or none at all! Discrimination may be easily substantiated if your screening process is selective.
The fact that an applicant has a conviction is not a reason in and of itself not to hire under the FCRA. The conviction must be relevant to the job position. For example, a conviction for a bad check may render an applicant unsuitable for an accounts position but not for a job digging ditches.
These are just the basic requirements of the FCRA, but the ever changing state laws are adding to the complexity of screening and the need to ensure your provider is "keeping you on the straight and narrow" and providing advice and assistance on a regular basis.