Key Takeaways from the 2019 NAPBS Annual Conference

Background screening is a hot topic in today’s employment sector and Arnall Golden Gregory’s (AGG) Background Screening Industry team is well prepared and versed to tend to the employers’ compliance needs. Five member of AGG’s Background Screening Industry team attended the 2019 National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) Annual Conference in San Antonio this month. Montserrat Miller spoke on FCRA compliance and social media screening and Kevin Coy spoke on the global impact of Brexit and GDPR to screeners and employers. The whole team enjoyed catching up with clients, attending informative sessions, and meeting new folks in the industry. A few takeaways:

  • NAPBS is now PBSA. The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) has voted to rebrand its trade association name to the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA). The name change is intended to reflect the global nature and reach of the association as it already has existing chapters in the Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Canada.
  • Enforcement Trends. Regulators analyze business practices, not business models. In other words, a good plan without effective implementation is no defense against regulatory action. Therefore, it is important for consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to enact effective procedures to ensure compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), as well as, audit the practices of their clients, vendors, and resellers. On a more granular level, when interpreting what constitutes “reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy” under § 607 of the FCRA, regulators have recently shown a preference for CRAs that use a consumer’s middle name as opposed to middle initial as one of their search criteria.
  • Social Media Screening. Social media screening companies offer employers consumer reports that provide insight into an applicant’s online behavior, specifically, demonstrations of racism or intolerance, potentially illegal activity, violence, or sexually explicit material. The key benefit of social media screening is that the reports provided to employers redact any information that may identify the applicant as a member of a protected class based on race, religion, and gender, thereby protecting employers from accusations of discriminatory hiring that might result from an employer conducting its own searches of an applicant’s online profiles. Before using social media screening, however, employers should make sure they develop a written Social Media Policy which sets forth the categories of employees that will be subject to social media screening, when during the hiring process the search will be performed, and how decisions will be made based on the results.
  • Update on NAPBS litigation in Arkansas. In August, the Circuit Court of Pulaski County Arkansas, Second Division, granted summary judgment in favor of NAPBS in a case filed by the association against a court clerk in her official capacity as the Clerk of the District Court of Benton County, Arkansas. NAPBS initiated the litigation in July of 2018 following the refusal of several Arkansas courts to allow CRAs access to public record information for background screening purposes on the basis of an Administrative Order issued by the Arkansas Supreme Court. NAPBS is proud to have helped its members gain access to records in the state of Arkansas, but is prepared for the possibility of an appeal.

It was a vibrant and informative conference and the AGG Background Screening Industry team looks forward to attending the Mid-Year Legislative & Regulatory Conference Spring 2020 in Washington, D.C.

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