Employers and HR professionals should make it their policy never to hire a candidate without a comprehensive
Contrary to popular belief, this federal law doesn’t cover just credit checks. It covers any background report, such as driving records and criminal records obtained from a “consumer reporting agency” (CRA).
Under the FCRA, you’re typically free to conduct employment background checks and use the information if you have a clear business interest, such as hiring, firing, reassigning or promoting someone.
But you can’t run a on a whim. You must receive the person’s written permission before obtaining the report. Then, if you decide to act on it (for example, fire a worker or reject an applicant), you must tell that person in writing that you based the decision, in part, on the background check. Tip: Find a clear analysis of which FCRA notification rules you must follow and when in Employment Background Check Guidelines, a special report from Business Daily.
Use smart screening practices to steer clear of lawsuits
If you fail to do an
To help safeguard your company from a negligent-hiring lawsuit, first contact an applicant’s references. But remember: You can’t ask a reference any questions you’re prohibited from asking a job applicant.
While HR professionals and managers are increasingly using search engines and social networking sites to dig beyond the typical résumé and cover letter, take heed: Googling candidates can carry certain legal risks.
For example: What if you Google only minorities? What if you inadvertently view information about a different person with the same name? What if your search shows a picture of the person in a wheelchair? All scenarios could raise discrimination charges if you reject the candidate.
Best bet: Don’t consider the web a reliable substitute for traditional hiring practices. A face-to-face interview will probably reveal much more of a candidate’s true personality. Plus, it won’t expose your company to liability.
To minimize your organization’s legal exposure to discriminatory failure-to-hire claims:
- Don’t search for candidate information on the Internet. This eliminates the potential for relying on false and misleading information.
- Develop interviewing skills and techniques that will draw out the information necessary to enable a legitimate, nondiscriminatory hiring decision.
- Use a third-party service to conduct thorough background checks on candidates. To ensure the background-checking firm is reputable, choose one that has gone through the National Association of Professional Background Screeners certification and accreditation process.
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