Employers in California must follow the stricter Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA) when running certain background checks and obtain written permission from employees and applicants before doing so, the California Supreme Court ruled Aug. 20.

The state’s high court affirmed a lower court ruling in Connor v. First Student, Inc. that said First Student improperly failed to notify or obtain consent from 54,000 bus drivers before it ran background checks, in accordance with ICRAA.

The court had to consider whether ICRAA was “unconstitutionally vague” when applied to employee background checks because it overlaps in part with the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (CCRAA), which does not require prior disclosure or consent from an employee. First Student had complied with CCRAA requirements. The court ruled that overlap between the two statutes does not render ICRAA vague, and that even when CCRAA applies, that fact does not exempt an employer from ICRAA background check requirements.

According to the filing, “the background check that First conducted here is an investigative consumer report under ICRAA because it reported on Connor’s ‘character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living.'”

Employers across all industries are turning to background checks and thorough professional screening in an attempt to expose applicants who lie to get through applicant screening platforms. Many state and local laws continue to complicate the process. Employers interested in improving their screening process should keep a few things in mind.

All employers should be aware of federal requirements regarding background checks. Nondiscrimination statutes dictate what information may be sought and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets out its own disclosure requirements that employers must heed. The EEOC has tried to issue further guidance on the matter, especially regarding criminal record, but the agency has seen pushback in the courts.

The recent California decision is another way states are pushing back somewhat against background checks.

GroupOne Background Screening knows your company is required to protect itself from negligent hiring. You do not have to go it alone. GroupOne recommends employers find a reputable agency and verify they are in good standing with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners and certified FCRA compliant.

For questions, please do not hesitate to contact GroupOne.