FTC Issues Follow Up Guide for Background Checks

ESR News Blogs about FTC & Background Checks

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a follow-up guide – Background Checks – Tips For Job Applicants and Employees – that expands on a March 2014 joint publication of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the FTC: Background Checks: What Job Applicants and Employees Should Know. The new guide further specifies the rights of applicants and employees under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and anti-discrimination laws when employers run background checks. The new guide is available at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0044-background-checks.pdf.

The new FTC guide explains that when employers run background checks on job applicants or employees, the subjects of background checks have legal rights under federal law. Depending on where they live, their city or state may offer additional protections. It is also important for job applicants or employees to know whom to contact if employers break any laws related to background checks. The following topics are covered in the FTC guide:

  • Questions About Background Checks
  • Use of Background Checks
  • If Employers Find Something Negative in Background Checks
  • Criminal History or Other Public Records in Background Checks
  • Credit Report/Financial Information in Background Checks
  • Race, National Origin, Color, Sex, Religion, Disability, Genetic Information, Age in Background Checks
  • Medical Condition in Background Checks

The FTC enforces the FCRA, a federal law that regulates background checks for employment while the EEOC enforces federal laws against employment discrimination. The new guide also offers a section ‘Where to Go For Help’ with the following contact information for job applicants and employees undergoing background checks:

  • FTC – If an employer got your background report without asking your permission, or rejected you without sending you the required notices, contact the FTC at www.ftc.gov or at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or 1-866-653-4261 (TTY). Why report it to the FTC? Because the FCRA allows the FTC, other federal agencies, and states to sue employers who don’t comply with the law’s provisions. The FCRA also allows people to sue employers in state or federal court for certain violations.  To find out how to order free copies of your credit report and how to dispute errors, visit www.ftc.gov/FreeReports.
  • EEOC – If you think that a background check was discriminatory, you may contact the EEOC at www.eeoc.gov or at 1-800-669-4000 or 1-800-669-6820 (TTY). The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. The EEOC investigates, conciliates, and mediates charges of employment discrimination, and also files lawsuits in the public interest.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a nationwide background check company accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – offers an Applicant Resources Page that contains helpful information about background checks including how to dispute a report. The page is provided as a courtesy to job applicants with questions or concerns about background checks and is available at http://www.esrcheck.com/Resource-Center/Applicant-Resources/.

NOTE: ESR is unable to give job applicants individual advice on job seeking or on any legal matter. Job applicants are advised to contact a knowledgeable legal or job placement professional for assistance.

Ban the Box & Background Checks Webinar November 12

Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), will present a complimentary webinar “Ban the Box – What Employers Need to Know” on Wednesday, November 12, 2014  from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM Pacific Time. To register for this webinar, please visit http://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4488944598710491905.