We’ve often wondered if the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 2012 guidance on background checks is too confusing. It’s supposed to provide employers information on how to best follow the laws surrounding the background screening process when it comes to vetting job applicants, and inform employers that they shouldn’t knock a candidate out of consideration solely because of a criminal conviction.
It’s certainly resulted in some cringe-worthy statistics. In the past for four years the EEOC has processed discrimination lawsuits at an alarming rate:
2010 – 99,922
2011 – 99,947
2012 – 99,412
2013 – 93,727
There was a steady decline in charges between 2013 and 2012, but the EEOC still managed to collect a record (and whopping!) $372.1 million in relief for victims of job discrimination.
The debate will undoubtedly continue to rage in HR, hiring, Ban the Box, employment law and background screening circles. This HR blog outlines several key areas where the EEOC is expected to enhance its enforcement:
- Systemic discrimination
- Protection of vulnerable workers
- The Americans with Disabilities Act
- Protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender workers (LGBT)
- Pregnancy discrimination
- Background check lawsuits (systemic discrimination)
- Sexual harassment/discrimination charges and lawsuits.
There is, however, a couple of places to turn when you have questions about how best to stay compliant in the ever-changing hiring law landscape.
Labor Law Experts – These mad geniuses know almost everything there is to know about the rights of employers, employees, and labor organizations. That’s a lot of stuff. With more than 180 federal laws (that’s not including state and municipality mandates), labor law attorneys and Department of Labor employees need to know the past, present and future of our nation’s workplace rights to make educated and informed decisions.
These legal eagles may primarily focus on the major labor laws:
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prescribes standards for wages and overtime pay, which affect most private and public employment.
- Workplace safety and health is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act and is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Workers’ compensation has a variety of principal statutes but most laws are administered and overseen at the state level.
- Other labor laws include The Family and Medical Leave Act, Veterans’ Preference, and laws affecting and protecting unions.
Certainly, you’ll want to seek the opinion of a labor law expert when it comes to hiring and firing employees. Your job is to run your business well, attract the right talent, impress your stockholders (if you have any) and drive profit margins up. You don’t have time to learn all the nuances behind labor law. That’s why it’s imperative to hire outside counsel who can guide you through the EEOC’s guidance.
Credit Reporting Agencies – You may not know this but Active Screening is a CRA. Weird, right? You know that we are a background screening agency but because we are paid to collect and distribute consumer report information, we are also a CRA. And any business that uses consumer reports for employment purposes has to understand compliance, especially when it pertains to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
You see, compliance doesn’t fall just under the EEOC discrimination umbrella, nor the greater labor laws that form the basis for our nation’s entire employee-employer rights relationships. Compliance also relates to a job applicant’s sensitive credit data and credit reports. The FCRA protects you from inaccurate or compromised information, and helps to prevent negative information from being used against you, like in employment circumstances.
- You must be told if information in your file has been used against you
- You have the right to know what is in your file (you can request a free credit report every 12 months from each nationwide credit bureau and from nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies).
- You have the right to ask for a credit score.
- You must give your consent for reports to be provided to employers.
- You may limit “prescreened” offers of credit and insurance you get based on information in your credit report.
- You may seek damages from violators.
CRA’s are subject to severe penalties from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if they violate the FCRA. In most cases, CRA’s are incredibly knowledgeable about compliance and can help you stay clear of any trouble. One way to ensure you’re working with a viable and trustworthy CRA with an impeccable record is to look for an accreditation from the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Active Screening recently earned its accreditation and our team of outstanding professionals are here to assist you anytime.
If you still have questions about compliance, we’d love to hear from you and try to help you out. Shoot us an email here.