Laws Governing Background Screening in Texas
When conducting employment background checks in Texas, you first need to know what you are legally allowed to ask. You should also be aware of how screening for these items can help you prevent future legal liability. These tools are surprisingly crucial to your success as an employer and can help you make better hires over time.
Even if you believe that the background check will not reveal anything relevant to your company, it is wise to pursue one. These checks (to the extent of the law’s allowances) help you to develop a complete picture of your prospective employees. However, when it comes to employment background screening in Texas, there are some crucial things you need first to consider.
Provide a Disclosure Notice and Obtain Consent for Background and Credit Checks
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)—a federal law—you’ll want to ensure that all your background screening services in Texas comply with these laws. It is essential that your candidates for employment are provided a Disclosure Notice on a stand-alone document and a consent and authorization obtained before you run such checks. If data in the generated reports gives you pause, it is critical to:
- Note what it was
- Note why it impacts their employability
You may also need to send a copy of the report to the applicant if one was requested or a dispute initiated. Due to the latter, background checks typically are only worth running on those you are seriously considering a candidate for employment. Say you decide to go with another candidate is due to this information—you will then be required to:
- Provide the applicant a copy of their report.
- Provide a summary of their rights.
- Provide an “Intent to Take Adverse Action” letter.
Additionally, no earlier than five business days after you send your pre-adverse action packet, you are required to send an “Adverse Action Letter” established by you and your legal counsel. This process should be generated in advance so that you can follow the same procedure for every candidate.
Secondly, even if drug testing consent is not required in your area, it is still considered a “Consumer Report” which falls under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Protect yourself against undue legal liability by treating this process with the same respect that you would with a Background Check.
Consider Checks for All Relevant Information
Background checks include a wide variety of background elements:
- Whether a person has been convicted of a crime
- Whether they have a history of bankruptcy (financial positions only)
- Whether they’ve received the education they claim they’ve completed
- Any driving history and relevant licensing and certification agencies.
If these elements are related to the job you are seeking to hire for, you’ll want your employment background screening in Texas to cover them. For instance, if a job generally doesn’t require driving but could occasionally result in work-related driving. This is a situation where pulling a driving record is a wise precaution against accidental liability or a major lawsuit due to a traffic violation on the job.
Tread Carefully with Social Media and “Googling”
While many employers are finding ways to involve social media and using search engines to learn about their candidates, this information can sometimes be fraught with danger. If, for instance, your casual searching uncovers information about a religious preference that causes bias in the process, you may be liable in a lawsuit. For any protected status, you do not want to discover information that you aren’t legally allowed to ask a candidate. For this reason, many companies protect themselves by hiring a company that does employment background checks in Texas. Relegating such duties to a third-party will help to screen out anything related to protected statuses. Ultimately, you’ll only receive relevant red flags pertaining to employability—not lifestyle.
Recognize Texas Laws Around Extensive Criminal Checks
When requesting a criminal background check, you want to be aware of the specific laws about employment background screening in Texas. You also need to consider how those laws interplay with Federal requirements. For example, Texas law prohibits checking criminal records that are more than seven years old. However, federal law (via the FCRA) trumps that of state law. According to the FCRA, “No requirement or prohibition may be imposed under the laws of any State…relating to information contained in consumer reports.” The exception to this is any state law in effect by September 30th of 1996.
Federal courts in the state of Texas have even ruled on this issue in the past, such as with the 2013 case Shaunfield v. Bank of America. If you’re uncertain, always engage the services of competent legal counsel.
Know the Legal Liability for Your Industry in Texas
Some industries, such as nursing and sectors that work with children, have specific requirements as far as your due diligence is concerned for protecting those you serve. Ensure that you are up-to-date on the information you must have to hire someone in your industry confidently. The background check is not where you want to cut corners! A belief that background screening services in Texas will probably turn up nothing can lead to tragedy. The investment is worth it to get the peace of mind that your bases are covered.
Are you in need of great employment background checks in Texas? Get the information you need in a legally responsible way using CNet Technologies for ethical and efficient pre-employment screening. While you should always consult your legal counsel if you aren’t sure what your legal responsibilities are, screening for the appropriate background elements is easy with CNet Technologies!