HR Support on Employee Background Checks

Editor's Note: Background checks can be a valued resource, but compliance cannot be overlooked.

David B. WeisenfeldOverview: Proactive employers often turn to employee background checks in an effort to ferret out high-risk job candidates. This can include a check of criminal history records, as well as an applicant's credit history and references.

However, there are several steps an employer must take to ensure such measures comply with the law. In particular, it must follow the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act's notice and consent requirements before conducting a background check. In addition, HR should be aware that some states prohibit employers from asking about arrest records and limit or prohibit consideration of convictions that have occurred long ago.

An employer that decides to conduct employee background checks of prospective employees should do so consistently to avoid the risk of a discrimination claim. Statistics have shown that such checks tend to have a greater impact on minority applicants.

Trends: Several states, including California, Illinois and Connecticut, have enacted laws in the last few years limiting the use of credit checks to certain types of jobs such as those involving financial data or sensitive information. A host of similar measures have been introduced elsewhere, so this is a trend that bears watching.

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, JD, Legal Editor

Latest items in Background Checks

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    Date:
    25 February 2015
    Type:
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    Georgia has become the 14th state overall, and first in the south, to "ban the box" on job applications.

  • Ban the Box Laws by State and Municipality

    Type:
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    The introduction of federal "Ban the Box" legislation follows that of a host of big cities and some states which already have enacted laws prohibiting employers from asking applicants if they have been convicted of a felony on initial application forms.

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    Type:
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  • Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates: Maryland

    Type:
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    In-depth review of the spectrum of Maryland employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to interviewing and selecting job candidates.

  • Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates: Illinois

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    In-depth review of the spectrum of Illinois employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to interviewing and selecting job candidates.

  • Preemployment Screening and Testing: Illinois

    Type:
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    In-depth review of the spectrum of Illinois employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to preemployment screening and testing.

  • Preemployment Screening and Testing: District of Columbia

    Type:
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    In-depth review of the spectrum of District of Columbia employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to preemployment screening and testing.

  • Preemployment Screening and Testing: New York

    Type:
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    In-depth review of the spectrum of New York employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to preemployment screening and testing.

  • Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates: New York

    Type:
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    In-depth review of the spectrum of New York employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to interviewing and selecting job candidates.

  • Illinois Ban the Box Law Puts New Restrictions on Employers

    Date:
    05 January 2015
    Type:
    News

    Effective New Year's Day, Illinois bans most private employers from asking criminal history questions on an initial job application. The law applies to private employers with 15 or more employees in the current or preceding calendar year and employment agencies. Washington, DC and Columbia, Missouri also have new "ban the box" laws affecting most private employers.

About this topic

Legal considerations for HR concerning employee background checks of job applicants and employees. Support on properly conducting background checks.