by Thomas C. Lawson, CFE, CII
Your choice of an employment screening company, due to pending legislation called The Fair Chance Act, now more than ever is a critical decision that includes your provider being 100% FCRA 607 & 613 (a) (2) Complaint and 613 (a) (2) Capable.
The reason? Many Human Resource departments rely on candidate-disclosed, criminal histories as a basis to continue candidacy but the proposed Federal Law, which mimics the “Ban the Box” laws in several states and removes that available disclosure.
Simply put what that means now is if your background check provider is inferior, you have the possibility of missed records which could place you on the radar screens of a rapidly maturing Plaintiff’s-Attorney Bar.
Traditionally inferior background screeners use the disclosure to ‘lighten’ the depth of the search in order to save money. Shocking to most, this is a common practice by discount or low-end screeners and validates the concept: you get what you pay for.
With the recent bankruptcy of the Nations’ three largest background check companies, and with more likely on the way, it is a best practice to examine just exactly who you have hired to keep the wolves away from your front door.
Here is more on the proposed law:
Bipartisan, Bicameral Group of Lawmakers Unveil Legislation Aimed at Federal Contractors
Ban-the-box legislation has been introduced for the first time at the federal level, reflecting a broader trend witnessed in dozens of states and municipalities. On September 10, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers in both houses of Congress introduced the Fair Chance Act (S. 2021 / H.R. 3470) which would prohibit federal agencies or contractors from asking prospective employees about whether they have a criminal record before a formal job offer has been extended.
Once a conditional offer of employment has been made; an employer would be permitted to ask about the applicant’s criminal record and revoke the offer based on the results of a criminal background check.
The proposed law includes exceptions for sensitive positions including law enforcement, national security, and positions with access to classified information. Protection is provided in the bill for whistle blowers who report coworkers for not following the law and penalties range from a warning for a first violation to suspensions of increasing length up to a $1,000 fine for subsequent violations.
The Fair Chance Act was introduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Co-sponsors of the bill are Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI); Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Sherrod Brown (D-OH); and Joni Ernst (R-IA); Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA); Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX); Earl Blumenauer (D-OR); Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) Cedric Richmond (D-LA); John Conyers (D-MI), and Bobby Scott (D-VA).
The lawmakers supporting the bill said that as many as 70 million people with criminal histories may face barriers to employment and highlighted that 18 states and more than 100 local entities have already enacted similar measures; with private employers following suit by adopting internal company policies to ban the box.
The Fair Chance Act is currently pending in committee in both chambers and will be the subject of a hearing on October 7 in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
Call me at 800 277-2733 if you have any questions about your employment screening procedures.
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