Time and again, companies are reminded to review their background check policies and ensure that they are in 100% compliance with all regulations.  Amazingly, even in a time where litigation is commonplace, companies continue to ignore proper background check policies.  If applicants know more about the proper procedures, it’s time to re-examine the background check policies and ensure compliance!


The latest wave of class action lawsuits have evolved in California.  The violations that were incurred are simple background check policies that are not only mandated by the FCRA and the state of California, but should be in place in every company without question.  The items noted here include:

  • The disclosure and authorization form were not in a stand-alone document, separate from the release of liability
  • No box was provided for the applicant to elect to receive a copy of the report, as required by California law
  • The language in the application did not provide a disclosure that a consumer report would be obtained
  • The language in the application did not request written authorization from applicants
  • Lack of notification of intent to take adverse action based on the background check

All of the things noted above are simple and easy to do steps in the hiring/background check process and should be a part of any background check policies.  Unfortunately for employers, it is easy to exploit these common practices by applicants and those with a vested interest in applicant’s rights (EEOC, law attorneys, etc).

The requirements for background checks are constantly changing and background check policies MUST be reviewed often to stay up with current best practices and requirements.  Companies should be working to eliminate potential exposure and fill the background check policies with the proper wording, documentation, etc.  Some may not want to pay a lawyer to examine their documents and develop a stand-alone disclosure and authorization, but it stands to reason that this cost will surely be less than dealing with litigation that could result if a company is not in federal and state compliance in their background check policies.

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