Background checks have always been a challenging aspect of hiring. Employers are expected to know all about a job applicant or employee to secure the safety of the workplace but cannot infringe on the candidate’s right to privacy. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws against employment discrimination while the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the law that protects the privacy and accuracy of the information in credit reports. The regulations issued by these two federal agencies are hazy at best, contradictory at worst. , Employers walk the “compliance tight rope”, while some job applicants and employees remain unsure of where their rights to privacy begin and end.
Here is some good news.
The UEEOC and FTC co-published two user-friendly technical assistance documents for employers, employees and job applicants. They have come together to explain how the agencies’ respective laws apply to background checks performed for employment purposes while reiterating the rights and responsibilities of both parties. This guidance provides clarity and assurance to people on whether their actions are legally permissible.
Guidance for Employers:
Guidance for Job Applicants and Employees:
In case of Adverse Decision (Not hiring or Firing):
Disposal of Information Obtained:
More detailed information in the matter can be obtained from the websites of the two agencies.
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