SHRM Supports Recently Introduced Legislation Addressing Reference Checks

February 19, 2016
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Last week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA, pictured) introduced legislation titled the Safe Harbor for Reporting Violent Behavior Act of 2016 (H.R. 4532). The bill, which is pending for the committee, would provide a safe harbor from lawsuits to those employers that, in good faith and based on objectively reasonable suspicion, make a report about violent or threatening behavior by an employee or former employee to a potential future employer. The bill is modeled after a 2007 law that provides a safe harbor from lawsuits to those who report suspicious behavior on public transportation systems.

Goodlatte In a letter of support, SHRM explained how in an effort to minimize exposure to liability, employers currently may limit the amount of information they share as part of a reference check to only confirming dates of an individual’s employment and the positions the individual held. If enacted, this legislation would provide some protection to employers that voluntarily report more information, such as violent behaviors or threatening behaviors, by providing immunity from civil liability under federal, state and local laws for such reports.

While a majority of states have enacted laws providing employers with immunity from civil liability for good-faith references, federal legislation would draw additional attention to this important workplace issue and provide nationwide protection for employers.

The legislation is co-sponsored by House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH), House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN).

In This Issue

Capitol Hill Update

Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Developments

Immigration Reform

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