Before a background check can be conducted on an applicant or employee, the FCRA requires that an employer (our client) provide a written disclosure form and obtain a signed authorization from the applicant or employee. While these requirements will apply to nearly all background checks, there are two situations in which the FCRA permits an employer to dispense with the disclosure and authorization requirements — an investigation of (1) suspected misconduct relating to employment or (2) compliance with federal, state, or local laws and regulations, the rules of a self-regulatory organization, or any preexisting written policies of the employer.
This alleviates the concern that providing the subject with advance disclosure of the investigation and obtaining the subject’s authorization to conduct the investigation would greatly hamper the investigation itself.
However, the FCRA does impose an obligation on the employer if adverse action, such as termination or suspension, is taken against the employee because of the investigation. In those situations, the FCRA requires the employer to provide the employee with a summary of the nature and substance of the investigation. Although the FCRA does not specify the time period within which the employer must provide the summary, it seems reasonable to provide it just after the adverse action is taken.
The FCRA does not require the employer to provide the employee with a copy of any report prepared for the investigation, nor does the FCRA require the employer to disclose in the summary the sources of the information obtained in the investigation. If co-workers, vendors, customers, or other individuals provided damaging information about the employee, their identities would not need to be disclosed to the employee in the FCRA summary.