Obtain OK to share background-Check info with clients

Q. Our company routinely runs background checks on all people to whom we offer positions. Can we legally disclose an employee’s background information to a customer who requests it? (The employee is working on the customer’s job site.) —L.B., North Carolina

A. Generally, you can’t share information obtained during a background check with a third party (including clients) unless the employee gives his or her OK in writing. Giving away that info without written approval could violate the employee’s rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and possibly state laws.

However, you can require employees to authorize disclosure of background check information to third parties as a condition of continued employment. For example, you could properly tell the employee, “If you want to continue working here, you must authorize me to share your background check information with Customer A.” Likewise, you can require that an employee authorize a customer to conduct its own background check.