Background Checks: An Employer’s Legal Guide

Written by: Tenant Screening Services, LLC

Summary: There are numerous legal boundaries that employers must follow when dealing with the hiring process.

Criminal background checks have become a standard in today’s hiring process. This guide is designed to discuss everything you need to know about background checks such as what is covered in a background report, your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as well as what you can do to ensure that perform a background check correctly.

Now, when it comes the hiring aspect, roughly two-thirds of organizations will conduct employer background checks on all of their applicants. Whether you are hired will likely depend on the information that is uncovered in a background check. For certain industries, screening is required by federal or state law. Be sure to check with your state’s laws to keep up-to-date with the latest regulations.

Why Perform a Background Check?

Employment screening is performed for a variety of reasons. The things that an employer wants to know about an applicant varies with the kinds of job the applicant is seeking. Negligent hiring lawsuits continue to rise. If an employee’s actions were to hurt someone, the employer may be liable for the outcome. This threat of liability has employers staying on their toes.

In addition, corporate executives and directors also face a certain degree of scrutiny in both their private and professional life as a result of scandals within the company. Due to this, many companies want to ensure that the applicant’s past doesn’t introduce problems into the workplace.

Federal and state laws do require that background checks be conducted for specific industries. For instance, many states require criminal background checks for those that work the elderly, children, and disabled. Furthermore, depending on the industry, extensive investigation may be required for security clearance.

Do Criminal Records Put You Out of the Running?

No, not necessarily. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated that use of criminal history may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This can occur if an employer treat applicants differently that have a criminal history. Additionally, the EEOC also states that a person cannot be denied employment based on the sole reason of a criminal record. Instead, the decision to hire the individual must be based purely on business. Employers often consider: the nature of the offense, the time that has passed since the convision, and the nature of the job that is being sought. Nonetheless, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the employer to comply with EEO laws. If you wish to read more, the EEOC has issued extensive guidelines that cover what employers must consider in criminal history of a job applicant or employee.