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Preemployment Screening and Testing: California

Preemployment Screening and Testing requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Authors: Anthony J. Oncidi, Natalie A. Rainforth and Adam W. G. Freed, Proskauer Rose LLP

Summary

  • California law prohibits most employers from obtaining or relying on consumer credit reports regarding employees or job applicants, unless the position occupied or sought falls within one of a number of categories listed in the statute, such as a sworn peace officer or a position that involves regular access to specified personal information. See Credit Checks.
  • While California employers are permitted to ask applicants about criminal convictions, an employer may not ask about arrests or detentions not resulting in convictions. See Arrest and Conviction Records.
  • A new law limits state and local government employers from asking criminal history questions on job applications. A few localities go even further. See Ban the Box Laws.
  • California employees have a right to privacy under the state constitution that applies to personnel records. Accordingly, such information should be treated as confidential by employers and disclosed only to authorized recipients. See Robust Privacy Protections Under California Law.
  • Employers seeking investigative consumer reports on job applicants must comply with the requirements of the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act. See Investigative Consumer Reports.
  • Before contacting an applicant's references, an employer should require the prospective employee to sign a form authorizing it to contact all employers listed on the applicant's résumé or application materials. See Education and Employment Verifications.
  • The California Employment Acceleration Act prohibits legislation requiring employers to use electronic employment verification systems as a condition of receiving a government contract or obtaining a business license, or as a penalty for violating licensing laws. See California Employment Acceleration Act of 2011.
  • Employers may test job applicants for drug and alcohol use if they take certain steps. See Drug and Alcohol Testing.
  • Despite the legalization of medical marijuana in California, employers may reject job applicants who test positive for the drug. See Testing for Medical Marijuana.
  • Post-offer preemployment medical examinations are permissible in California when they are consistent with job necessity, are conducted on all employees in similar positions, permit an applicant to obtain an independent medical evaluation before adverse action is taken against him or her, and are kept confidential. See Medical Testing.