Disclosure & Release

Last month, I wrote about the importance of following FCRA rules and guidelines to the letter.  I really wasn’t kidding about that, but apparently not everyone was paying attention so, as they used to say in the Army, “Listen up!”

Another class action lawsuit has been filed against Michaels Stores in Texas.  The guts of the suit are that Michaels’ on-line job application is so complicated and filled with unnecessary minutiae that the plaintiff didn’t realize that a credit check was going to be a part of the hiring process.  The FCRA requires that any notification that a background check will be done on applicants for employment must be “clear and conspicuous.”  What constitutes “clear and conspicuous” may be a matter for a court to decide, but it seems foolish for employers not to make sure the language used on their applications for employment is as easy to understand as possible and not filled with “words of art.”

Whoever intentionally or unintentionally muddied the application process waters in this latest lawsuit should have read the rather specific language of the Fair Credit Reporting Act!

As readers may recall, our view is that employers must provide a stand-alone document for applicants to sign giving the employer permission to do a background check and another, totally separate document to sign in which applicants acknowledge that they understand that a background check will be done – a disclosure document – and what that background check will include.

Trying to cover every base in a single document is an ill-advised approach.  Got that?