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FTC Urges Employers to Present Plain Facts to the FCRA for Potential Employees’ Background Assessment

The Federal Trade Commission Publishes a Post on Background Assessment Data

In a recent article by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the presentation of data and fact for background check of potential employees were highlighted. This is so that employers who acquire background assessment of applicants can understand the prerequisites of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

For any organization to obtain background assessment on their prospective employees, it is an indication that the FCRA has been involved. However, background checks on applicants can only be obtained after specific data has been presented to the FCRA, along with the written consent of applicants.

When Does an FCRA assessment Become Necessary?
According to the publication by the FTC, a background assessment statement includes specific details of job applicants that further support their qualification to particular jobs. These statements could also be obtained for purposes other than employment. They entail essential facts such as credit history, personality traits, attitude, lifestyle and reputation. However, the FCRA has outlined the steps organizations must take to obtain employee assessment statements. They are:

Organizations must inform and obtain written approvals from their future employees before running any background checks on them.

If employers find any detail of the assessment results unworthy of the job in question, applicants should be informed about it. They should also be given a duplicate of the results for personal perusal.

After giving them the duplicated result, employers are to allow applicants to review the assessment results and defend themselves where necessary.

At the end of the assessment, if an employer decides not to employ an applicant, the applicant must also be notified. The exact content that disqualified the candidate should be pointed out to them for necessary corrections in future.

In a nutshell, as explained by the FTC on their article, “employers need the authorization of potential employees in writing before running any background checks on them”.

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According to the FTC, the disclosure should be in the same document as the request for authorization from applicants. The FTC further emphasized that some organizations go on to include bogus and complex terms in the papers. As a result of these extremities, the FTC has concluded that the following should not be found in disclosure for background screening:

Employers should not use terms that exempt them from the consequences of carrying out the check or using the result of the assessment.

Terms that imply that applicant must know that their ability to secure the position is based on bias reasons should also be eliminated.

Any document that proves the authenticity of the applicants’ application details should also not be included in the disclosure.

Written authorizations that allow information not permitted by the FCRA to be released in disclosure should also not be included. An example of such extreme information include insolvencies of more than a decade.

The FCRA also find it offensive when employers include extreme word usage in their disclosures. These complicated terms may make it impossible for applicants to fathom the essence of the check. They may also go against the guidelines of the FCRA. The range of coverage by the FCRA does not allow employers to dissociate themselves from the consequences of the assessment process and result.

The FTC recommends that employers put their request in the simplest of terms. They explain that employers do so by simply stating their need for the assessment as well as the specific details of the applicant they require. The request for permission from applicants should also be in simple terms.

ESR Encourage Employers to Follow FTC and FCRA Guidelines

In a report from a news update by the Employment Screening Resources in February 2017, an article by the FTC was highlighted. The article urged employers who request for background assessment on applicants to do so transparently. Employers were dissuaded from using applicants’ information for reasons other than what was indicated in the disclosure.

Although the ESR is not a legal service provider, they have published two write-ups for employers. The first one is about the knownways through which Consumer Reporting Agencies are Sued by the FCRA’ while the other is about the major waysby whichthe employeessue employers under the FCRA.’

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