5 Steps to Legal Success in Background Screening

September 15, 2021 by Verified First

5 Steps to Legal Success in Background Screening

Hiring new talent can be both exciting and stressful. Between identifying areas of need, budgeting for a new team member, and interviewing the best candidates, staying compliant through it all can seem like one more hoop to jump through. Even if it’s unintended, not practicing the compliant screening procedures can have a negative impact on your company. 

At Verified First, we want to set you up for success. That’s why we hosted Pamela Devata, a Labor & Employment Partner at Seyfarth, for a webinar discussing Building a Fast and Compliant Screening Strategy for Today’s Talent Market. Pamela’s experience encompases hiring related law practices that connect to criminal, credit, and other background checks. Through our discussion, she helped identify five ways to build a compliant screening process that protects your company.  

Note: Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, every organization faces different legal bindings. To ensure your compliant screening strategy is legally accurate, we recommend consulting legal counsel. 

1. Understand the Applicable Laws

In order to mitigate possible problems before you begin, you need to understand the basics. Certain laws are in place to protect both you and your employees. There are three core laws that should be considered by all companies wanting to hire new talent. Familiarizing yourself with the proper legislation could protect you from lawsuits and save your company time and money.

  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) The FCRA applies to all employers who use a third-party background screening service. The FCRA regulates how information within consumer reports can be used by a prospective employer. This law not only applies to credit reporting but to anything that applies to a candidate’s character or reputation.
  • Ban the Box” LawsOriginally, these laws constituted the banning of asking an applicant to divulge criminal history within a certain period of the hiring process. Now they have grown to be more complex. New regulations include when you can mention background screening, when to provide a disclosure, what you can ask in terms of criminal history, and other guiding questions. In order to understand the “Ban the Box” laws in your area, it’s crucial to consult specific ordinances.
  • Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)This federal statute only applies to driving records. The DPPA provides a permissible purpose to access driving records for hiring purposes. That means, if driving isn’t a core part of the position, accessing one’s driving records will most likely be prohibited as the information doesn’t pertain to the specific open position.

2. Consider Partnerships

Contracting a reputable background screening company is one of the most assured ways to stay compliant. You want to pick a background company that you’d consider a partner in your hiring success — one that cares for your business just as much as you do.

Verified First provides our clients with above and beyond care. We’ll work with you to identify your background screening needs and industry-specific solutions. With our built-in compliance features and one-click integration that reduces data entry, we’re here to help you build a screening strategy that’s fast and compliant. . Navigating screening processes is unique to each business, and you can rest assured that we’re committed to building a compliant partnership with you.

3. Stay Up-to-Date on Changing Laws

Whether federal or state mandated, laws are constantly being changed to encompass new information and interpretations. What was once factual a year ago certainly may not be today. For companies wishing to hire new talent, you must do your legal research before you start. Fortunately, there are several ways to stay up-to-date on the information. 

  • Vendor updates - Partnering with a third party background screening vendor takes the stress off of you to always be in the know. For example, Verified First is constantly updating our screening procedures in order to provide our clients with the most accurate information. Our in-house, Public Records team, consisting of compliance, legal, SHRM and PBSA-certified experts, helps clients mitigate risk to stay compliant with FCRA regulations. 
  • Webinars - Attending a webinar on current updates to hiring laws is a great way to stay up-to-date. Every month, Verified Firsts hosts our HR at the Table webinar series where we host some of America’s most notable HR and Talent Acquisition leaders on topics such as keeping with a compliant hiring process. By gaining information from reputable sources, you can find accurate information. 
  • Law firm publications - Be on the lookout for publications by reputable law firms. If there’s a change to an existing law in your area, law firms will typically announce the change and divulge what it means for your company. Being unaware of changes will not protect your company if you’re found violating the correct guidelines. 

4. Review Your Authorization 

Pam Devata suggests reviewing your disclosure and authorization forms at least annually as one of the most important aspects of ensuring a compliant screening process. There are plaintiff counsels that exist just for finding companies that are violating disclosure and authorization forms. In short, reviewing your authorization is a very big deal

Reviewing authorization comes from checking with local ordinances and searching for amended laws. When a law is amended, it will give companies a set start date as for when the changes are to be enacted, so you have time to process and implement the changes. For example, the New York City Council recently implemented changes to the interpretation of the Fair Chance Act that we outlined in our blog, What you Need to Know: Changes to N.Y. Fair Chance Act

5. Consider Legal Help

It’s okay not to have all the answers. Asking for help is the best way to evaluate the procedures you have in place. A law firm will be able to review practices you’re using such as:

  • Your disclosure and authorization forms
  • Your adverse action letters
  • Your offer letters
  • And much more

By consulting with legal counsel, you’re assuring that the current practice you have in place accurately represents your company and protects you from violating specific laws. 


The practice of staying compliant in your screening processes may seem daunting. Once broken down into specific actions and examples, however, following the steps to compliance success is possible. Verified First is here to help you with all of your screening compliance needs. Connect with us for more information on building a compliant screening process!

About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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