Employers, Employees And Background Checks

March 14, 2018

Background checks are something that most of us are familiar with, even if we haven’t conducted one or completed one. But as an employer or an employee, do you know enough about background checks to be certain that you are within the boundaries of the law?

Here is a little extra information to help if you are wanting your employees to complete a background check, or if you are an employee and have been asked to complete one:

Employer information on background checks:

The kind of information that employers are permitted to look at with respect to background checks can vary greatly from state to state, so it’s best to conduct some research first. You must also ask for the consent of applicants before you even consider running a check on them, and any information gained from any source should not encourage you to discriminate against that candidate. The EEOC, or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, are there to ensure that employers don’t make discriminatory decisions about individuals based upon any of the following factors: race, national origin, colour, sex, religious beliefs, age, disability or any other details based upon genetics. For gaining background information about a candidate such as their credit or criminal history, the FCRA, or Fair Credit Reporting Act, have extra procedures that you will need to undergo to gain permission. As an employer, you must also advise applicants that you may use some of the information that you find in a background check, to make an informed decision abut their eligibility for the vacancy.

The time taken to process a background check depends on how much information is being requested, but the maximum amount of time is usually a week, with some being processed within a matter of hours. Background checks should never be free, since this suggests that little effort has been put into the process and the check will likely come back incomplete ir inaccurate. Always use a reputable company, and preferably one that is FCRA compliant, so that you can guarantee the quality of the information you’ll receive.

Employee information on background checks:

Every employee has legal rights when it comes to background checks, and you must always give written consent for one to be carried out. If you have a criminal record, this doesn’t automatically mean that you cannot be considered for employment, it will just depend upon the nature of the offence and the type of position you are applying for. In some cases, the EEOC may deem that an employers’ use of criminal history constitutes as a violation of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and may be the case when an employer treats the criminal history differently depending upon the applicant. The EEOC also states that a criminal record alone, cannot be the reason why a person is not considered for a vacancy by an employer; the nature of the offence and when it was committed must be taken into consideration and a
decision made based upon those factors.

If, as an employee, you feel that a background check conducted on you was discriminatory, you can get in touch with the EEOC who investigate your claims and act as a mediator between you and the employer.

It’s important to know your rights with respect to background checks, whether you’re an employer or an employee, so do your research before you request one, and before you give your written consent.

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