VICTIG Compliance Tips – Permissible Purpose

Where Do I Need to Be Careful? 

We are going to do a four-part series on where employers get into trouble when screening workers. It’s four areas you should manage.

  • Permissible Purpose
  • Your Disclosure and Authorization before obtaining reports
  • Your Pre and Post Adverse Action Notices
  • Job Relatedness and Business Necessity

But first, if you are reading this, you are using care. You have decided to screen your workers for safety, profitability, and, setting aside modesty for just a moment, you have chosen an experienced, accurate, and PBSA-Accredited firm with whom to partner.

You may also be familiar with the “negligent hiring doctrine” which requires employers to “assess the nature of the job, its degree of risk to third parties and perform a reasonable background investigation to ensure the applicant is competent and fit for duty.”

There is a close cousin of the negligent hiring doctrine, known as the “negligent retention doctrine” that says employers have a duty, in some cases, to repeat the screening process on current employees. An example might be a company that hires an individual and part of this individual’s job duties is driving a company vehicle. Even if the company obtained a driving record upon hire, the negligent retention doctrine says that the company may have an obligation to periodically review the driving record. An annual review is required for certain Department of Transportation regulated positions.

So, kudos to you for already being careful in maybe the most important area—your screening.

Permissible Purpose

Ensure that your workers who can order reports understand that it is for business purposes only. We understand this seems basic and obvious, and yet, a new worker with access to the system decides to see if their Ex has had another DWI to help them decide on their children’s visitation. A President gets an offer to buy their business from an individual and decides to order a credit report on them. A worker thinks this politician has just got to have some skeletons in their closet and decides to see if their suspicions are correct and if so, let the world know. Don’t laugh—these scenarios happen.

Our system is a fast, accurate, powerful tool. That tool can be tempting to an employee, especially if they’re a little hazy on permissible purpose. Permissible purpose should certainly be covered when you hire a new worker with access to the system and a short review periodically for long-term workers might be a good idea. Not only is it using company funds for personal purposes, but it can also land the worker, and potentially your company, in a bad place.

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