EEOC and FTC Joint Guidance On Background Screening

Someone forgot to tell March that it was supposed to go out like a lamb.

The old saying, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb,” has filtered down through generations of folks who, for various reasons according to the Farmers’ Almanac, believe that if the month begins with bad weather, it will end peacefully.

HA! The joke is on us (or most of us across the country).

March has brought with it a wrath of unpredictability from epic ‘Noreasters in New England to deadly mudslides in Washington to blizzards in North Dakota and Minnesota.

You’re probably welcoming the idea of April Showers by now. We are! And we’re happy that April is finally here!

A non-weather related event in early March, however, DID come in like a lion, and it has big implications for employers and employees. In a debut collaboration, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a couple of handy documents that break down laws applying to background screening for employment purposes. One document is for employers; the other is for job applicants and employees.

“The No. 1 goal here is to ensure that people on both sides of the desk understand their rights and responsibilities,” states EEOC Legal Counsel Peggy Mastroianni, on the EEOC website.

The partnership makes sense considering both groups have their hands in employment background screening regulations. As a couple of attorneys with (Yes, really. That is this law firms’ web address. Well played.) writes, “The EEOC enforces federal laws against employment discrimination, while the FTC enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the law that regulates the use of “consumer report” information in a number of different employment, financial, and other contexts.”

There is lots of important information stuffed into these pieces so we cherry-picked some of the best bits and will highlight them here.

For Employers:

  • Background screening is an essential hiring tool.
  • Any background check must be properly and lawfully obtained.
  • You need WRITTEN permission from a candidate before screening.
  • You MUST AVOID hiring decisions based on protected classes, including, but not limited to: disability, age (40 +), color, race, creed, religion, genetic info.
  • Don’t toss old background screening info in the trash! You must destroy it. (Hint: invest in a good paper shredder).

For Employees:

  • Know that you may be asked to undergo screening and you need to sign off on it (you don’t have to give your permission, but an employer may reject your application if the position requires a background check and you say, ‘no.’).
  • Understand that background screening, when proper steps are taken, is not illegal.
  • You have a right to view your background screening results (especially if something pops up on it that makes the employer not want to hire you).
  • You have legal rights and can file complaints with the EEOC and/or FTC.

We’re not the only ones interested in this topic and how it affects job applicants and what we do at Active Screening. These legal-eagle takes on the joint effort are pretty impressive, too. Click on the links for a jump to their article.

We have compiled a handy-dandy list of resources for you to consult, too. Even better, we provide download links for a bunch of it so you can do research on your own time. As always, if you have questions, we’re here for you. Check out our live chat for immediate help.

Now go enjoy those April Showers!

This entry was posted in Background Screening, General, Human Resources, Industry Solutions, News by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
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