Applicant Release & Authorization: An FCRA Must
July 13, 2007
One of the most basic mandates outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the need to obtain a signed release from a job applicant before allowing a Consumer Reporting Agency to conduct a search for employment screening purposes. A compliant release informs the applicant about the scope of the search, who will be conducting the search and grants the employer with the waiver they need to execute a background check. It is a simple process, but when not followed can cause all sorts of trouble for employers, as illustrated in a recent Washington Post Report about large organizations in the rail road industry’s failure to do so.
Further complicating matters was these employers failure to notify candidates when they were not hired due to adverse information being found on reports and their failure to authenticate the records to ensure that they indeed belonged to the subjects of these reports. This is another big FCRA no-no. Those who are not hired due to adverse information found on their background check must be provided with a letter that states so, that provides information on disputing their record and includes a free copy of the background check. As you can see from this article, it appears that none of this was done.
The good news is that the process for following these mandates is extremely easy. A couple quick forms and some best practices advice from your counsel and, or your employment screening provider and the problem can be fixed. Remember though that the process is supposed to fair to all parties. Employers must protect the rights of their candidates so that their right to seek a background check is also protected.