Internal thefts and background checks: What if employees withhold consent?

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in Employment Background Check,HR Management,Human Resources

Q.  We are getting ready to conduct an internal investigation into a series of thefts that have occurred within one of our offices. We would like to obtain background checks from some of the suspected employees, but are concerned that they may refuse to execute the necessary consent forms. Can we require them to do so? — A.K.

A. Yes and no. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employees have the right to withhold their consent. Employers cannot have a consumer report run on employees who withhold consent. On the other hand, employers have the right to utilize consumer reports as a part of their investigations, and are not obligated to continue to employ anyone who declines to provide the requested consent.

In other words, you cannot require that the employee provide the requested consent, but you can tell the employee that continued employment depends on his or her doing so.

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