4 Concerns for Employment Background Check Compliance

Alex Krokos


If employment background check compliance is a top priority for your company, you’re not alone. In fact, according to EmployeeScreenIQ’s 2015 Background Screening Trends Survey, 52% of respondents said that compliance with screening laws would be a challenge for them this year.

While it’s important to have a general understanding of screening compliance, it’s even more important to follow these guidelines and laws. Ignoring them could lead to a negative candidate experience, or worse, make your company vulnerable to a lawsuit.

Take a look at four concerns employers must address to maintain a compliant background screening program.

1. Two-Step Adverse Action Process

When you find something on a candidate’s background check that might prevent you from moving forward, it’s important to not only notify them, but to do it correctly. By law, employers are required to send not only a notification, but rather two. When your background screening provider initially uncovers the record, you must send a pre-adverse notification to your candidate indicating that a criminal record was found and that they have the opportunity to dispute it, if they believe the information is incorrect.

If your candidate does not dispute the information, employers are required to send an adverse action notification letting them know that they were not hired due to the information uncovered during the background check.

If you’re unsure if your company is taking these steps correctly, contact your legal counsel or background screening partner to re-evaluate your program.

2. Ban the Box Laws

You’re familiar with ban the box. Some love it and others hate it. While job candidates with a criminal history might rejoice, employers must tread carefully with these laws.

If a ban the box law exists in your city or state, it may or may not pertain to you. For example, some of these laws only prevent public or private employers from requesting a background check previous to the job offer.

To protect your company, make sure you are aware of any ban the box laws where your company is located. If a law is in place, you must ensure that the checkbox on job applications asking about criminal history has been removed.

Ultimately, if a criminal record shows up once you run the background check on your candidate, make sure that your company policy outlines the type of criminal record that would disqualify a candidate from a position with your company. While employers often want to offer a second chance, there are some criminal records that might preclude a candidate from working with your company.

To learn more about ban the box laws, download our guide, Ban the Box is Out of Control: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Business.

3. Using Social Media Screening

When it comes to using social media during the screening process, employers should approach it with caution. While there are only a handful of laws in certain cities or states that prevent companies from using it as a screening tool, there are several concerns for employers, including the following issues:

  • Privacy: Job candidates are right to expect a certain level of trust with a company that could be their future employer. Not only could using social media screening break that trust, but some state and federal laws (along with terms of use for some social networks) may prohibit employers from using social media as a screening tool.
  • Discrimination: While your social media search may start innocently, you could discover information that ultimately can’t be unseen and may affect your hiring decision. Unfortunately, this could lead to a discrimination lawsuit, if an employer uses protected class information to make a hiring decision.
  • Accuracy: Just as you can’t believe everything you see on the internet, neither should you trust everything you see on social media. Posts and pictures can be deceiving; so don’t make a critical hiring decision based solely on information found online.

To learn more about social media screening, download our guide, Screening Job Candidates via Social Media: Reckless Practice or Savvy Strategy?

4. Pre-Employment Credit Checks

While credit checks are typically only requested by employers in the financial industry, there are many laws protecting candidates in this area as well. Employers should be aware of cities and states that prevent employers from requesting this information as well as when it might be appropriate to request and use this information for your hiring decision.

Currently, there are ten states that limit the use of credit checks:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Washington

To learn more about compliance concerns related to pre-employment credit checks, download our guide, HR’s Guide to Employment Credit Reports.

If you’re concerned that your company’s background checks are not compliant, contact EmployeeScreenIQ today to learn how we can help protect your company’s screening program.

Alex Krokos
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Alex Krokos

Marketing Specialist at EmployeeScreenIQ
Alex has a strong track record of success in content development, graphic design, social media management and relationship building for more than five years. She began her career as a freelance graphic designer and marketing consultant, where she lead projects from conception to completion for organizations in multiple B2B and B2C verticals and helped integrate and launch emerging marketing into small businesses. She has also worked as an account executive for a Cleveland-based public relations firm.
Alex Krokos
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