Employer Background Check: What Are the Laws?

In the United States, 96% of all employers conduct criminal background checks, and 70% of employers do a social media screening before hiring.

Employment background checks are becoming more and more commonplace. If you need an employer background check, you need to understand your rights first. If you don’t, you could unfairly get denied job opportunities by employers overstepping their bounds.

Keep reading this guide to learn what you need to know about background check laws.

What Can Employers Legally Ask For During Background Investigations?

When employers do an employment background check, they must ask you the same questions as everyone else. No employer can discriminate against you based on your:

  • Color
  • Sex
  • Gender identity
  • Transgender status
  • Race
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Family medical history
  • Pregnancy
  • Age (over 40)

Potential employers must respect employee privacy and cannot ask for extra background information due to the above factors. They also can’t discriminate against you for filing a complaint against another employer in the past.

What Can an Employee Background Check Include?

There are also background check laws that only authorize an employer to check specific aspects of your background, which include:

  • Your education
  • Your employment history
  • Public records like credit history
  • Criminal history

An employer can’t ask you for medical or personal family information.

If an employer is going to check your credit history, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates how these checks must be done.

Credit reports usually include information about all your accounts, tax liens, and any judgments. However, certain states have restrictions on employers using this for employment purposes.

Additionally, more and more laws are being passed prohibiting employers from asking about criminal history before making an offer. Even more, laws are in place that bans employers from disqualifying people because they have a criminal record.

Finally, drug screening laws in various states like Colorado make it illegal for employers to test for medical and recreational marijuana use.

Do Most Employers Use Background Check Companies?

Many employers use professional companies to perform background investigations. Employers must inform you that they use a company to check background information.

Employers need to tell you that they can use this information to determine whether or not they will hire you. You must also give written permission before a company can run any background check.

Employers must also take steps to keep you informed if they decide not to hire you due to background screening results. They must give you a copy of the background report and a “Summary of Rights” explaining how you can contact the background check company.

Learn More About Employer Background Check Laws

Learning about employer background check laws will help you understand more about the process and ensure your rights aren’t being violated.

If you’re looking for a new job and going through a background check, don’t hesitate to ask questions if something seems off. Also, if a potential employer is stepping over the line and asking you personal questions, be sure to speak up.

There are numerous employee background check laws in place for every state, so you’ll need to do your research to get more details.

For more business tips, be sure to check out more of our helpful blog articles!

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Johnson Mack

Mack's a passionate wordsmith with a love for all things creative. As an avid explorer of the written realm, he weaves words into captivating tapestries of information and imagination. With a background in literature and a heart that beats for storytelling, Mack brings a unique blend of insight and eloquence to his writing.

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