CALIFORNIA: Megan’s Law website still off-limits for employers
Employers won’t find much comfort in a recent California appeals court decision that handed a free-speech victory to a consumer reporting agency that forwarded information from the Megan’s Law website to its employer clients. The website displays the whereabouts of registered sex offenders in California, but state law prohibits using the information for employment purposes. An unsuccessful applicant sued the consumer reporting agency for passing along information from the website. The court ruled that it was the employer, not the agency, who “used” the information for employment purposes. So, the agency was off the hook. No word on whether the employer will be sued next. (Mendoza v. ADP Screening and Selection Services, Inc., Cal App, March 2010).
Tips: If you learn that an applicant or employee is listed on the Megan’s Law website, you need to carefully consider your next steps. Does the nature of the job raise concerns in light of this information (e.g., access to minors, shortage of supervision, etc.), and/or does it appear that the individual failed to disclose a past conviction when asked during the hiring process? If so, you should generally be able to verify what you learned using other sources. You can then make an informed decision once you have a complete report. Follow the procedures in our Model Form, “Background Checks: California Notices” (5340), and contact your Vigilant staff representative for guidance in a specific situation.