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January 16, 2014

Eek! I missed WHAT? Top 10 Background Screening Mistakes

Companies that utilize background screening products as part of their hiring process are more likely to weed out a potential employee who would be dangerous or risky to the workplace. Background screening an applicant can bring to light mistruths contained in the resume, or unsavory activities that would be detrimental for a company to take on.
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However, a background screening process is only as effective as the amount of thought that goes into developing it. Data Facts has seen many mistakes in background screening practices that can result in a screening process that is unfair and unsuccessful. Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing the top 10 Mistakes that can result in your background screening practices not being the best possible.

Let’s count them down!

Mistake #10: Oh no! I threw them away! Purging documents too soon
Because background screens disclose highly sensitive information about individuals, it is essential that the employer appropriately and strictly secure the confidentiality of the information both internally and externally.
file cabinetIn reality, an employer may maintain multiple files on employees. The employer should retain relevant documents in a secure manner for a period that complies with applicable state and federal laws and regulations and the employer’s records’ policies. With respect to the period of time in which to keep records, it is important to keep in mind the FCRA’s statute of limitations.
An individual must make a claim within two years after learning about the violation. If the violation is not discovered within five years of the violation date, then the statute
bars an action. Here’s an example:

A violation occurs on 08/01/08. The violation goes undetected. A claim for
said violation must be brought before 08/01/13 or the statute will prevent the claim.

Employers who purge the systems too often run the risk of not having proper documentation if an individual files a claim. Lack of evidence can put the employer on the losing end of any claim!

Data Facts requires that all of our clients keep their documents for 5 years.

Mistake #9: He had a felony, why am I in trouble?! Not following adverse action process
Red Check markIf an employer is considering an adverse employment action (declining to hire the person) based in whole or part on information in the background report, the employer must:
a) notify applicant
b) provide a copy of the background report
c) provide “A Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” (This process is sometimes called “Pre-Adverse Action” or “Preliminary Adverse Action” or “First Notice.”)
Applicant may contact the background screening company if they dispute any information in the background report.

The background screening company would re-investigate any disputed items of information and issue an updated report to employer and applicant/employee.

Employer would review the updated report and make the final employment decision. If the employment decision is adverse, a notice of adverse action is sent to applicant (This process is sometimes called “Final Adverse Action.”)

There needs to be reasonable time (usually at least 5 business days) between the Pre-adverse action letter and the Adverse Action letter.

Be sure to follow this procedure every single time!

Mistake #8: I didn't know I shouldn't look at that! Utilizing irrelevant information
Recently, utilizing criminal history and credit history to screen for employment has come under scrutiny. A company should have some consideration of the following before utilizing these screening products in their hiring process.
Exclusion of applicants based on conviction records is prohibited unless the employer can show business necessity.

criminal historyTo establish business necessity, an employer must be able to show that it considered:
1) the nature and gravity of the offense or offenses
2) the time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence, and
3) the nature of the position held or sought.

As for screening with a credit report, employers also need to show that the individual's credit history is relevant and fair to the position. While a person who is hired to handle money may need to show good credit history, it may be irrelevant and therefore unfair to utilize a credit report to screen for other positions.

Only screen what is relevant and fair to the position!

Join us next week as we continue to countdown the list of Top Background Screening Mistakes!

~~Susan McCullah is the Marketing Project Manager/ Background Screening Division for Data Facts, Inc, a 25 year old Memphis based company. Data Facts Inc -an NAPBS accredited company- is a leading provider of employment screening solutions. Check out our website for a complete explanation of our services.

Lisa May

Lisa May is the Executive Vice President for Data Facts.

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