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Inside the Background Screening Process - Background Screening 101 – Part 2

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December 22, 2016 Return to News & Events

Inside the Background Screening Process - Background Screening 101 – Part 2

Pre-employment background screening is a critical part of the hiring process.

For individuals outside a Human Resource Department hiring may seem to be a simple process. An ad is placed requesting candidates apply for an open position, resumes arrive and are reviewed, interviews take place and the candidate is hired. Seems fairly obvious but is it really?

At the core of the hiring process is pre-employment background screening. It is a central piece to the whole vetting process. Pre-employment background screening verifies information provided by a candidate as well as provides greater detail and depth to an individual’s life experience. Ultimately background screening is a collection of data that allows a hiring manager or team make a well-informed decision about a candidate and when used in combination with a thorough interview becomes a powerful tool.

Hiring is complicated, just as the process of background screening can be but when a company utilizes a third-party background screening company the process is simplified.

From the start pre-employment background screening is highly regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

One must closely conform to the rules of the FTC when compiling information for an employment background check, specifically if the use of a consumer credit report or criminal history report is involved.

Here are the necessary steps an employer should take during the employment screening process:

  • Inform a candidate information provided will be used in making a decision regarding potential employment.
  • A candidate must receive notice in writing and subsequently provide written approval allowing an employer as well as a surrogate background screening company permission to draw data.
  • A candidate must be informed if an investigative report will be generated, one utilizing personal interviews regarding character, reputation and lifestyle.

An employer must also:

From the EEOC website:

Certify to the company from which you are getting the report that you:

  • notified the applicant and got their permission to get a background report;
  • complied with all of the FCRA requirements; and
  • won't discriminate against the applicant or employee, or otherwise misuse the information in violation of federal or state equal opportunity laws or regulations. (1)

The EEOC also demands that discrimination will not occur during the screening process. Recent changes in the use of criminal background records have strictly controlled the use of criminal history reports and in many jurisdictions across the country employers can no longer ask about a criminal history on an application.

Should a company choose not to hire a candidate or fire an individual, commonly referred to as an adverse action, companies must take special care.

Again from the EEOC Website:

Before you take an adverse employment action, you must give the applicant or employee:

  • a notice that includes a copy of the consumer report you relied on to make your decision; and
  • a copy of "A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act," which you should have received from the company that sold you the report.

By giving the person the notice in advance, the person has an opportunity to review the report and explain any negative information.

After you take an adverse employment action, you must tell the applicant or employee (orally, in writing, or electronically):

  • that he or she was rejected because of information in the report;
  • the name, address, and phone number of the company that sold the report;
  • that the company selling the report didn't make the hiring decision, and can't give specific reasons for it; and
  • that he or she has a right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of the report, and to get an additional free report from the reporting company within 60 days. (2)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: “Pre-employment background screening is complicated and the brief snapshot herein barely touches the complexity. Ultimately it is a best practice for companies large and small to work with a third-party background screening company, one that has the skills and ability to assist in creating a fully compliant background screening package.” is a third-party background screening company with highly trained operators well versed in the needs and requirements of companies and organizations large and small utilizing public records, such as criminal records, as part of a hiring process. Assisting companies in maintaining full compliance under the law is a central tenet of all client relationships with




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