IDear Workforce -IDoes the Fair Credit Reporting Act Apply to the Board

September 13, 2000

Dear Workforce:

When someone applies for a volunteer, unpaid Board of Directors spot, do we need the same type of authorization to run credit reports and background checks as if they were an employee? Since they're not exactly "employees" and are "volunteers" and "unpaid,"I don't really understand what my legal obligations are (two lawyers had two different opinions!)

--Dara, HR manager, Rapid City, South Dakota


A Dear Dara:

Two lawyers…two opinions? Not bad--usually I get at least seven opinions per lawyer.

I called the Federal Trade Commission after getting your question. The FTC said that "it's a gray area," which you already found out.

Despite that, they do recommend "treating it like it's an employment situation" -- which means getting authorization and abiding by other policies you would for an employee.


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