Employment Background Checks: What You Need to Know

Employment Background Checks: What You Need to Know

Employment Background Checks: What You Need to Know

Job applicants often experience anxiety around employment background checks. Even if they have all the qualifications and have lived responsible lives, many job applicants know their background checks may show information hiring managers dislike. Applicants often worry about debt charge offs, bankruptcies, arrest, or conviction records, and medical conditions.

Federal Law Restricts Certain Uses of Employment Background Checks

Applicants can rest easy knowing that the law protects them from employment discrimination based on information in their background checks. The law also provides limits on how credit and criminal background information may be used in employment situations.

The Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws against employment discrimination. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces federal laws regarding consumer report information used in employment background checks.

Federal Law Prohibits Employers from Discriminating Against Protected Classes

When employers learn that an applicant is a member of a protected class through the pre-employment screening process, they break the law if they discriminate on that basis. Examples of protected classes include an applicant’s race, sex, color, national origin, and disability. The EEOC enforces these laws. Failure to comply with this law can open the company to litigation.

Discrimination Based on Medical Conditions is Prohibited

The law entitles prospective employers to conduct background checks that include credit and criminal information but not medical information, except in very limited circumstances. For example, an employer cannot order an applicant’s medical records as part of a background check.

If employers discover employee’s medical conditions during the pre-employment screening process, they are prohibited from refusing to hire them because of it. Though employers cannot obtain a medical report, they could potentially learn about an applicant’s condition through word of mouth, on the Internet, through a reference check, or because of medical bills on a credit report. Applicants who have experienced this form of employment discrimination should contact an attorney or the EEOC.

Background Report Rules

There are many types of background checks available to employers. Many companies use third-party vendors that conduct pre-employment screens and provide reports. These reports commonly include a credit report and may also include criminal backgrounds.

It is illegal for any prospective employer to order these reports without the applicant’s written permission. If the employer decides against hiring the applicant because of information contained in such a report, it must provide the applicant with a copy of the report and a “notice of rights.” The notice of rights tells the applicant how to contact the company that provided the information.

Applicants should always request the removal of any inaccurate information from their credit reports. They should also report any unauthorized access to their credit reports to the FTC.

Many states have additional laws protecting job applicants. For example, in Illinois, employers cannot discriminate against applicants because of an arrest record that never led to a conviction. Some states also have prohibitions on accessing credit reports.

Learn more about staying within the bounds of the law during the hiring process here.

Looking to start a business or grow your current business? Contact FL Patel Law today by visiting our website or calling (727) 279-5037.

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FL Patel Law PLLC is a boutique business law firm dedicated to entrepreneurs and companies.

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