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

  • Ban the Box - Chart

    Type:
    Quick Reference

    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.

  • Preemployment Screening and Testing: California

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

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

  • Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates: Illinois

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

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

  • Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates: Delaware

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

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

  • Podcast: New York Employment State of Mind

    Date:
    01 October 2014
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    New York is not quite California when it comes to employment law, but the Empire State has taken steps in that direction the past year with many new developments affecting employers. On this podcast, New York City employment attorney Jason Habinsky, of Haynes & Boone, examines the changes at both the state and local level.

  • Background Checks Handbook Statement: Maryland

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Maryland employers seeking to provide notice to applicants and existing employees that they conduct background checks for certain positions in compliance with Maryland law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Background Checks Handbook Statement

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers seeking to provide notice to new hires and existing employees that they conduct background checks should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Reference Checks Handbook Statement

    Type:
    Employee Handbooks

    Employers seeking to create a uniform process regarding their response to external requests for references or employment verification should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.

  • Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates: New Hampshire

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

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

  • Preemployment Testing: North Carolina

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

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

About this topic

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