Employers who conduct pre-employment screening and businesses with any consumer credit reporting obligations should be aware that the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") is now being enforced by a relatively new federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB"). The agency has just announced changes to certain FCRA-required forms, specifically: the "Summary of Rights under the FCRA," the "Notice to Furnishers of Information: Obligations of Furnishers Under the FCRA," and the "Notice to Users of Consumer Reports: Obligations of Users Under the FCRA." These are forms that are currently used in connection with pre-employment screening efforts where information subject to the FCRA is used or obtained. You can find the new forms online (Appendices K, M, and N to 12 CFR, part 1022) and will want to have them available by January 1, 2013, when they go into effect.
The FCRA does not just apply to credit reports (which are generally impermissible in the employment context except in limited circumstances) but also to a host of other inquiries that employers typically want to undertake before making an offer of employment, such as criminal background checks, driving record checks, and other reports that may be provided by a Consumer Reporting Agency. When FCRA applies, certain notice, documentation, and reporting requirements must be met and that is where the new forms are implicated. If you are working with a third party to conduct applicant screening, they will likely be notifying you of this change and providing you with additional information that may apply to you. If you are not, you will want to download the forms and familiarize yourself with your obligations under FCRA right away. Using the correct forms and language may avoid complaints that an employee's or applicant's FCRA rights were violated and the penalties that can arise from such a violation.
As always, don't hesitate to call our employment team if you have any questions about pre-employment screening or the use of background checks like those implicating FCRA and the forms discussed above. You may also find out more about the CFPB and its activities online at www.consumerfinance.gov.
In addition, Jordan Ramis attorneys will be presenting on pre-employment screening and hiring contingencies at the Southwest Washington SHRM Annual Conference at the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, Washington, on October 16, 2012. Get more information about the conference including registration information.
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