House Bill 187, introduced earlier this year, prohibits employers from requesting an applicant’s Social Security number, birthdate, or driver’s license number (“Protected Information”) before making the applicant an offer of employment. The bill then provides several exceptions to this provision including to do a criminal records check, credit check, or driving record verification. However, there are numerous other reasons this information may be needed at the time of application and trying to create an exhaustive list in the Revised Code would be impossible.
HB 187 further prevents employers from providing the Protected Information to any person other than the employer. This fails to recognize that most employers do not conduct background checks, consumer credit reports, or other types of employee checks themselves. Rather, they use outside companies to conduct these checks and searches. As a result, HB 187 would essentially render useless the ability to request the Protected Information for the purposes described above because most employers, especially small employers, do not have the time or ability to perform those services themselves.
Next, the bill mandates that employers create a policy regarding the retention, disposition, access, and confidentiality of any information collected about an applicant during the initial selection process and requires them to provide applicants with the ability to review the policy prior to submission of information. This simply creates one more burdensome requirement on employers.
The bill also prohibits employers from retaining any information about an applicant collected during the initial selection process for longer than two years after the date on which the applicant provides the information, whether the applicant is hired or not. This flies in the face of general legal recommendations to businesses on record retention polices. Generally, most attorneys recommend that employers retain applications, resumés, and other related information for six years from the date of hiring decision for non-hires and six years from the date of termination for employees. This is advised due to Ohio’s burdensome six-year statute of limitation for employment discrimination claims, the longest of any state. Employers must be able to retain this information to be able assess, and possibly defend, any claims that may be brought.
Lastly, the legislation creates a new cause of action against employers for non-compliance. This would leave employers in the untenable position of either violating the law to be able to defend against other lawsuits or complying and opening themselves up to additional liability elsewhere.
This bill has had three hearings in the House Community and Family Advancement Committee. The Ohio Chamber submitted testimony in opposition at the third hearing and will continue to oppose HB 187 because it is unnecessary and places significant burdens on Ohio’s businesses when trying to hire new employees.