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Your Client Wants Your Employees’ Background Checks. Now What?

Emily Hartman /
Text: "Ask the HR Expert"

Q: I have a client that’s insisting I release my employees’ background screening reports for my employees who work at the client’s location. Are we allowed to release this information?

A: You may be able to share your employees’ background results to your client that’s requesting the information, but it depends on the purpose of the request and what state you’re located in.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates background screening reports, and there are several privacy and confidentiality protections for employment background checks. In this case, there needs to be a “permissible purpose, like employment” for the requested reports. “Employment” covers the position, reassignment, or retention.

Additionally, states have different employee protections. For example, California is very protective of employee rights; its expanded ban-the-box law heavily regulates criminal history reports. In that state, you wouldn’t want to share reports with others unless you receive a subpoena, have a contractual obligation, or there’s another valid business reason for providing an employee’s confidential record.

Bottom Line:
Clarify why your client needs copies of your employees’ background screening reports. It may be that they want to verify the type of background checks you run and that they were completed, not the information itself. Regardless, it’s vital that you protect your employees’ files.

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