Employment Background Check State Laws and Regulations

Employment Background Check State Laws and Regulations

Employee background checks help companies uncover facts about a potential hire and ensure that a candidate does not have issues lurking in their past that could cause any harm to the business or create a safety hazard for the other employees. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to exercise reasonable caution and due diligence to hire the right candidates and create a safe working environment for your employees.

In today’s highly competitive job market, however, many applicants embellish details, hide information or manipulate the data on their resumes. Background screening is hence becoming a mandate for organizations who wish to hire ‘a good employee’ each time.

employee background checksIt’s important to understand, however, that there are legal limitations for obtaining background information. Except for certain restrictions related to medical and genetic information federal laws do not restrict an employer from asking questions about an applicant’s or employee’s background, or to require a background check. However, any time you use an applicant’s or employee’s background information to make an employment decision, regardless of how you got the information, you must comply with federal laws that protect applicants and employees from discrimination. That includes discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, or religion; disability; genetic information (including family medical history); and age (40 or older). These laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Here are a few employment background check laws and regulations that you should know about:


Criminal offenses in the past trigger a sense of distrust and threaten an individual’s candidature for a particular job. However, there are many laws in place to ensure that they get a fair chance without too much damage to the employer. Here are a few of them:

  • Employers cannot ask applicants about an arrest that did not lead to a conviction.
  • You cannot ask your potential hires about their referral to or participation in a pretrial or post-trial diversion program.
  • You may request information about the arrests that are awaiting trials.
  • Any job-related questions regarding a conviction are permissible.
  • EEOC guidelines now call for the review of the applicant’s actions since the offense.
  • No records of offenses may be considered if they occurred more than a specific number of years prior to the application.
  • Other factors that contribute are the seriousness of the crime and the rehabilitation efforts of the applicant.

Credit Reports

Positions that deal with the confidential information of your customers and finances of the business require employees that can be trusted. Credit history reflects a lot about a person’s ethics and general behavior. However, there are some limits on how far you can go while you dig up a person’s credit history.

  • The employer should have a permissible purpose of pulling up an applicant’s credit reports. Some examples of this may be:
    • A managerial position
    • A sworn peace officer or other law enforcement job
    • A position for which the information is required by law
    • A position that involves access to specified personal information
    • If the person is a named signatory on the employer’s bank or credit card account
    • If the person will have access to confidential or proprietary information
    • A position that involves regular access to $10,000 or more of cash
  • Without a permissible purpose, denying employment to a candidate based on personal credit history has no bearing and may be a violation of state law

Other Laws

Employers must get written consent from the applicant to perform such background screening tests. They must also inform the applicant if he may be rejected based on the information obtained in the background check reports. The employers are expected to provide a copy of the report to the candidate. The applicant can then dispute the information in the report for re-evaluation by the employer. If the employer then decides not to hire the applicant based on the report they must inform the applicant of this adverse action.

A Good Employee can help your un proper with highly efficient background screening solutions and provide you with relevant reports too.

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