The slightest error when conducting background checks now leads to serious legal sanctions. Here's what to do to avoid lawsuits when hiring.
The year 2015 saw an unprecedented rise in background check-related lawsuits.
The number of organizations sued for violating background check laws is staggering.
Generally speaking, both class action attorneys and federal agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) seem to have stepped up their vigilance.
The slightest error when conducting background checks now leads to serious legal sanctions.
Many organizations have already paid millions of dollars to settle the lawsuits and class actions. With more legislations (e.g. “Ban the Box” laws) expected in 2016, the legal landscape is set to become even more complex. As such, the risk of committing legal violations when conducting background checks is likely to become even greater.
So, what is a business to do? Should they suspend background checks in order to avoid the possible legal sanctions? Absolutely not!
Background checks are an essential part of the hiring process. As such, conducting them is an absolute must.
So, what is the solution?
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Why Organizations Get Sued
Well, the first step is to understand the genesis of background check-related lawsuits. Now, most legal problems arise from one source – selecting the wrong background screening company. Using the wrong background screening company leads to legal problems in two ways.
First of all, some background screening companies commit violations when conducting background checks. In most cases, when such violations are committed, the organizations which contracted them are the ones which face legal action. In other words, background screening vendors commit violations, and their clients take the fall.
For instance, most background screening companies don’t verify their results. In other words, they don’t crosscheck to ensure that their background check results are accurate. As such, most of them return false background information. When organizations make drastic decisions on the basis of the faulty information, they end up getting sued.
Secondly, some background screening companies do not advise their clients on compliance issues. The best background screening vendors are usually abreast with the latest legal requirements for different jurisdictions. As such, they furnish their clients with practical tips they can use to ensure compliance. Some even refuse to conduct the background checks unless their clients are following the legal stipulations. Unfortunately, not all companies do this. Most leave their clients in legal darkness, and thereby set them up to commit legal violations.
The bottom line is that hiring the wrong background screening company is the major reason why organizations end up in legal problems. As such, the first step towards avoiding such legal problems is by hiring the right company.
The only problem is this: how can an organization easily distinguish between the “right” company and “wrong” company. Where, there is one fool-proof method of judging whether or not a background screening company is the right one. This is by asking whether or not the company is NAPBS Accredited.
What is NAPBS Accreditation?
NAPBS is an acronym which stands for the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. The NAPBS is a body which brings together different companies which offer background checking services. Its goal is to promote the best practices in the background checking industry.
One measure through which the NAPBS promotes best practices is through Accreditation. The NAPBS Accreditation was established after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) indicated that it desired standards by which background screening companies could be objectively evaluated.
The NABPS therefore set up the Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) to create accreditation standards. The BSCC, in turn, created what is termed as the Background Screening Accreditation Program (BSAP). BSAP is a rigorous process through which organizations have to undergo in order to receive NAPBS Accreditation.
The BSAP represents the gold standard in background screening processes. For an organization to successfully complete BSAP, it must be able to meet the highest industry standards in all aspects including legal compliance, customer service, data protection, client education, consumer protection and general business practices.
The standards set by the BSAP are extremely high. They are so high that out of the over 700 companies which are members of the NAPBS, only 62 have managed to receive Accreditation. Therefore, any company which has NAPBS Accreditation is among the best background screening companies in the world.
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What Are the Benefits of Hiring NAPBS Accredited Company?
Beyond selecting from an exclusive club composed of less than 10 percent of background screening companies, hiring an NAPBS Accredited company offers certain tangible benefits.
The three most important are the following:
1. Legal Compliance
For a company to receive NAPBS Accreditation, it must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of different background screening legislations. Beyond knowledge, it should also show a commitment to conducting background checks in compliance with the legislations. As such, hiring a NABPS Accredited can ensure an organization that all their background checks will be conducted in compliance with the relevant laws. In fact, given their knowledge of the various legislations, they can also offer an organization practical tips on compliance. Since most background check related lawsuits begin with compliance violations, being offered practical tips can reduce the likelihood of such violations.
For a company to become Accredited, it needs to demonstrate the capacity to produce accurate background checks information. NAPBS Accredited background checks are supposed to be double-checked to ensure utmost accuracy. As a result, part of the BSAP program involves n detailed audit of a company’s processes and results in order to ensure utmost accuracy. Therefore, an organization which hires such a company can rest assured that they will get the most accurate background check reports possible.
3. Privacy and Data Protection
The NAPBS Accreditation process involves a thorough information security audit. This includes auditing aspects such as data security, password protocols, electronic access control, physical security and record destruction. Ultimately, before a company is Accredited, it must demonstrate the capacity to safely secure clients’ data. This assurance is invaluable given the recent spike in data breaches. For instance, in 2014, a background screening company was tricked into sending customer data belonging to millions of Americans to a fraudulent organization in Vietnam. Most of the data ended up in the hands of identity thieves. Hiring a NAPBS Accredited company can provide an organization with an assurance that such data breaches – and their associated reputational or legal consequences – will be minimized.
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In a nutshell, hiring a NAPBS Accredited background screening company is the best decision any HR can make in 2016. Such a company can provide NAPBS accredited background checks – which are accurate, legally compliant and digitally secure. Therefore, if you intend to enjoy the full benefits of background checks in 2016, make sure that you hire a vendor who is NAPBS Accredited. Otherwise, you may be setting yourself up for legal problems.