Small business owners who are thinking about doing a background check on a prospective employee need to know whether they are conducting such a check legally. This is because the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that any agency that reports information about an employee must do so in compliance with the law. These laws must be followed by a reporting agency even if the information being reported could be found in records already made public.
Another issue to consider when running a background check on an employee is the possibility of finding information about a candidate that an employer isn't looking for. For example, if it was discovered that an employee was handicapped in some way, that person couldn't be disqualified from a job interview simply for being having such a disability. While the employer isn't legally required to hire that person, it could open the door for a lawsuit from that person if he or she isn't hired.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that employers should refrain from doing background checks before a job offer is made. This is because doing so may harm minorities disproportionately, which has led to 12 states banning the background check until a job offer has been made. Job applicants should be aware that an employer must ask for permission before performing such a check.
Employers must follow certain rules when hiring an employee, going through the termination process and while an employee is working for the employer. Job applicants or employees who feel as if their rights were violated may wish to talk to an employment law attorney. The attorney may be able to collect employee statements, emails containing lewd language or other evidence that may prove that an employer has discriminated against a person based on gender, race or other prohibited reasons.
Source: Nightly Business Report, "Screening job candidates online? Know the laws", Jesse Emspak, August 01, 2014