Why Request Worker’s Compensation Records in a Background Check

A comprehensive background check is compiled of parts that when separate only give an incomplete snapshot of the individual in question. Only by capturing each separate image and bringing them together to make a complete picture will hiring managers be able to make hiring decisions with confidence. Some of these snapshots are references from landlords and previous employers, worker’s compensation claims, criminal history investigations, credit reports, and social security searches.

If your specific interest lies in researching worker’s compensation claims, you’ll need to be aware of special rules and requirements for the use of this information.

In 2012, a Federal court case (Bachman vs. Donahoe) ruled that worker’s compensation records fall outside of the FCRA definition of what is considered to be a “consumer report.” Consumer reports are considered to fall under one or more of seven categories:

  1. credit worthiness
  2. credit standing
  3. credit capacity
  4. character
  5. general reputation
  6. personal characteristics
  7. mode of living

As a result of the 2012 ruling, employers don’t need to obtain written consent from the individual in order to request worker’s compensation records from a reporting agency. However, that doesn’t mean that the use of these types of records is unregulated. They are protected under the American’s with Disabilities Act, which mandates that inquiries into medical histories should be postponed until the concluding steps of the hiring process. Additionally, worker’s compensation records should be considered separately from other the other background check snapshots (inquiries) and should be order at a separate time.

So the question remains: when should a worker’s compensation report be requested?

When is the Right Time?

The ADA protects employees from being discriminated against because of their medical histories and past worker’s compensation claims. Requesting reports should be done with the intention of procuring proof of previous injury and are provided for that reason. This information shouldn’t necessarily be considered vital to the hiring process, but incidental. In fact, some states do not make these reports available.

So Why Request a Report?

Proof. Some employers simply want to verify the legitimacy of the application. And who can blame them? Hiring managers bear the important responsibility as gatekeepers of the company. What’s at stake is the security of business assets. Investing in comprehensive background checks that may even include worker’s compensation records is the best way to protect the interests of your company.

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