In order to make an informed decision, employers generally conduct background checks on job candidates during the hiring process. There are laws governing the information that can be collected and how it can be used when making a hiring decision. The background check cannot concentrate on an applicant’s age, race, gender or religious beliefs. While some information can only be obtained with prior consent, other information is part of the public record. The following is a list of the types of information that employers typically gather as part of their employee screening process and the laws governing the access and use of the information.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires employers to obtain written consent from an applicant before running a credit report. If the results are used to disqualify an applicant from being hired or promoted, the individual must be provided with a copy of the report and the opportunity to challenge any information that it contains. While bankruptcies are a matter of public record, the Federal Bankruptcy Act forbids employers from discriminating against job applicants because they have filed for bankruptcy.
Criminal Background Checks
The rules governing a criminal background check vary by state. Employers must adhere to these statutes when conducting such a check. While some states allow a search for felony arrests, they prohibit bias against those with misdemeanors. The process includes reviewing local, state and federal databases for convictions and outstanding warrants.
Employers may conduct an Internet search of public social media sites to determine if any negative or potentially embarrassing information has been posted by or about the potential employee. In addition to social media sites, employers may check forums, blogs and other websites to determine if the candidate is right for the job. The employer may also use the search to verify experience and qualifications listed on a resume or application as well as during an interview. Information that reflects poorly on the employer is often used as grounds for not hiring an applicant.
With a few exceptions, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act prevents the use of lie detector tests. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on physical or mental impairment. You can ask for medical and workers’ compensation records if they show the applicant does not have the ability to perform the required duties. Under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, transcripts and other school records are confidential and will only be released with the written consent of the applicant.
It is important that pre-employment background checks be performed in accordance with the law. The process should also be consistent for all applicants to prevent unlawful discrimination.