Getting Employee Information Can Implicate FCRA
When an employer obtains a “consumer report” or an “investigative consumer report” from a third party that qualifies as a consumer reporting agency for use in making an employment decision, it must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. Sect. 1681 et seq. FCRA limits the purposes for which a report may be obtained to a limited field of uses, including for employment purposes. A consumer report can include driving reports, medical reports, and credit history; it is defined as any communication that provides information about creditworthiness, credit capacity, credit standing, reputation, character, or personal characteristics. An investigative consumer report may include the same types of information—character, general reputation, mode of living. This type of information is obtained through interviews or discussions with co-workers, associates, relatives, or others who know the individual personally. FCRA does not apply if the employer conducts its own investigation, such as interviews of references.