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We live in an information age, and background information on applicants and employees is vital to many critical employment decisions. Unfortunately, the legal requirements for obtaining this information are complex. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) establishes a complex system of acknowledgment, notice and disclosure obligations, each with its own regulated deadline.
The employer’s task is further complicated by a patchwork of state laws, many of which require additional obligations that can be found only by the closest reading of applicable statutes and regulations. Nearly half the states have separate background check laws, with many imposing "unique" procedural steps for compliance. California is the most extreme example of the trend toward greater state regulations. A 2002 law imposes onerous duties on employers conducting reference checks on applicants or employees, even when the employer is gathering the information itself, without going to a third party. Multi-state employers or an employer in one state that hires an employee from another state, or uses information gathered by a company from a different state may need to comply with several states laws. Put simply, if your organization is complying only with federal law, it is probably not meeting its legal obligations.
The cost of failing to comply is high. These federal and state laws create a right to sue for employees and job applicants who experience employer or agency violations. Employers and consumer reporting agencies may be held liable for any actual damages (including pain and suffering) resulting from willful or negligent noncompliance, as well as certain fixed penalties. Attorneys’ fees and punitive damages may be awarded under specified conditions. Even criminal penalties can apply.
DOES COMPLIANCE HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED?
Not with Littler Mendelson’s BACKGROUND CHECKS & INVESTIGATIONS OF APPLICANTS & EMPLOYEES: FOUR STEPS TO BASIC COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL & STATE LAW ©. This book contains a process that streamlines compliance into four basic steps, including all the policies, forms and notices your organization will need. The Four Steps to Compliance book incorporates the following features:
1. Software that allows organizations to create the forms, notices and letters essential for compliance.
2. Background check policy-builder software.
3. A detailed manual with guidelines that turn complex legal mandates into basic compliance steps.
4. Federal disclosure forms.
5. A chart summarizing the requirements of each state’s laws.
We recognize that for many employers there are no "one size fits all" solutions in today’s national (and international) economy. That’s why the Four Steps to Compliance book contains three distinct "systems" for compliance to choose from: national (one size fits all), federal only and state by state compliance guidelines for those employers with states requiring more than federal law. Each of these compliance formats includes guidelines, forms, letters, notices and policies that will make the employer’s job in this context as simple and painless as possible.
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