Employment screening has become an integral part of the hiring process for many companies. It helps organizations to assess the suitability of candidates for various job positions by verifying their background, education, employment history, criminal records, and other relevant information. However, conducting employment screening involves legal issues that employers must be aware of. In this article, we will discuss the legal aspects of employment screening.
- Legal Requirements for Employment Screening
Employment screening is subject to various federal and state laws that dictate what information can be collected and how it can be used. One of the primary laws governing employment screening is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA outlines the legal requirements for employers who use consumer reports, such as credit reports, criminal records, and employment history reports, in their employment screening process. The law requires employers to obtain written consent from candidates before conducting a background check, provide a copy of the report to candidates, and follow specific procedures before taking adverse actions based on the report.
In addition to the FCRA, employers must also comply with state laws that govern the use of background checks in employment. These laws may impose additional requirements on employers, such as obtaining consent from candidates to conduct drug tests or requiring employers to notify candidates of their rights before conducting a background check.
2. Types of Information That Can Be Collected
Employers must be careful about the types of information they collect during the employment screening process. Some types of information, such as race, religion, national origin, gender, and age, are protected under federal and state laws. Asking candidates about these types of information during the screening process may be considered discriminatory and can lead to legal action against the employer.
Employers can legally collect information about an individual’s criminal history, credit history, employment history, education, and professional licenses or certifications. However, employers must use caution when making hiring decisions based on this information. They must ensure that the information obtained through the screening process is relevant to the job position and does not unfairly discriminate against candidates.
3. Adverse Actions Based on Screening Results
If an employer decides to take adverse action, such as not hiring a candidate, based on the results of an employment screening, they must comply with the legal requirements outlined in the FCRA. The employer must provide the candidate with a copy of the report, notify the candidate of their right to dispute the accuracy of the report, and provide the candidate with the contact information for the screening company. If the candidate disputes the accuracy of the report, the employer must investigate the dispute and provide the candidate with the results of the investigation.
4. Data Protection and Security
Employers must also take steps to protect the personal information of candidates that they collect during the screening process. This includes maintaining the confidentiality of the information, limiting access to the information to only those who need it, and securely storing the information. Employers must also ensure that the screening company they use has adequate data protection and security measures in place to protect the information.
5. Compliance with EEOC Guidelines
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidelines to help employers avoid discriminatory hiring practices when conducting employment screening. The guidelines recommend that employers use screening criteria that are job-related and consistent with business necessity. They also recommend that employers conduct an individualized assessment of candidates with a criminal history to determine whether the conviction is relevant to the job position and whether there is a business necessity for excluding the candidate based on the conviction.