Businesses should remain aware of the legal trends surrounding the background screening industry and the steps needed to maintain compliance. Having a trusted, well-informed background screening partner is an important piece to the compliance puzzle.

FCRA Compliance… and Litigation

With the complexity of Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements and the money at stake, law firms have found background screening a fertile field for litigation. FCRA lawsuits are up over 50 percent in a year. Some class action suits have yielded spectacular sums for the lawyers. Starbucks was recently in the news after a class-action complaint was filed against it for allegedly having willfully violated the FCRA by taking adverse employment action against applicants without providing copies the rejected applicants’ background screening reports and notification of their rights under the FCRA.

Increased Emphasis on Compliance through Screening Partnerships

Enhancing compliance efforts by using a qualified, vigilant background screening services provider is the surest way to counteract spiking regulations and lawsuits. The need to guard against inaccurate results and poor hiring practices that run afoul of employment law is pushing businesses away from conducting internal background checks. Once viewed as a cost-saving move, in-house background checks are increasingly viewed as a liability risk, since inadvertent violations of regulations can result in substantial fines and expensive lawsuits. By outsourcing background screening to qualified vendors, businesses help protect themselves from costly litigation and fines, avoid additional technology and training expenses, and benefit from the guidance and best practices of firms that have dedicated expertise in the field.

Re-Screening of Existing Employees

Even as background screening is becoming increasingly a standard procedure for new hires, a growing number of companies are looking to make background screening a continual process. That means periodic re-screening of existing employees. Periodic re-screening of a business’ workforce can identify employees who have committed offenses after they were hired – offenses that the employer would not otherwise know about. It can also expose gaps in the original pre-employment screening process, uncovering information that was initially overlooked or not available at the time of the first checks. An increasing number of companies are making re-screening a standard practice for promotions and transfers.

Increased Vendor Screening

With so many services being outsourced by businesses, a company’s facilities are increasingly open to personnel from other firms. While a company may be confident that its own workforce has been subjected to appropriate background screening, can it be sure that its vendors have done the same? A vendor’s workers can expose a client business to many of the same risks it would face from its own employees if the vendor’s personnel haven’t been properly screened. To help prevent potential claims of discrimination, mitigate security risks, and ensure compliance with all federal, state, and local laws, consider applying your background screening policies to your extended workforce—independent contractors, consultants, and other contingent workers.

Tread Carefully Around Social Media Searches

Social media now plays an enormous roll in the everyday lives of many Americans. It has also become a source of information for businesses – about their customers and their employees. A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 43% of responding organizations indicated that they used social media or online searches when screening candidates and 36% admitted that they had rejected a candidate for employment based on information found on social media or through an online search. However, social media raises thorny issues for employers. Social networks can provide information about an applicant that should not be used in employment decisions, potentially exposing an employer to discrimination litigation. Some states have put legal limits on how employers are allowed to search social media. Again, a trustworthy background screening services partner will help guide you toward making decisions that are legal and compliant.