When making personnel decisions, such as hiring new employees, promoting current employees and, at times terminating employees, employers find it necessary to do background checks. Some of the things they look for on a background check is a person’s work history, education, criminal record, financial history, medical history, and social media information. Not only do they have the legal right to do so, but some occupations require background checks on applicants. However, there are laws and regulations governing the use of such information so that applicants are not discriminated against, or their employment rights violated based on what their background information reveals.
Employment Background Checks
Know Your Background Check Rights
It is illegal to check the background of applicants and employees when seeking a decision based on a person’s race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, or age. For example, asking only applicants of a certain race about their financial histories or criminal records is evidence of discrimination. All applicants should have the same background information requested to avoid discrimination. All applicants and employees have the right to know that a background investigation is being done on them. The employer should get the applicants written permission to do the background check and inform the applicant that they will notify them of the results. The applicant has the right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of the report and to get an additional free report from the reporting company within 60 days.
Criminal Background Checks
Most states have laws and regulations restricting an employer’s use of criminal records in making hiring decisions. When it comes to Texas law, most employers are limited to a seven-year criminal background check for positions paying under $ 75,000 annually. If the position pays more than $ 75,000 annually, employers can check the applicant’s criminal background back to the age of eighteen. Texas law does not require applicants to disclose the existence of any criminal records that have been expunged by a court order. The criminal records of minors are sealed and therefore, a background check will not reveal any criminal convictions prior to the applicant turning eighteen. If such information is discovered, it can not be used in hiring decisions.
As-long-as there is consent from the applicant, under Federal law an employer may conduct a credit history check. An “Employment Credit Report” contains information regarding the applicant’s credit and payment history. Such credit reporting agencies are required to provide only relevant and accurate information and may not provide the applicants private information, such as credit score or account numbers. If an employer uses an applicant’s credit history to determine job placement, the applicant must be provided with a copy of the credit report, as well a written explanation of the effect it had on their decision to hire or not.
In-order- to verify an applicant’s employment history, employers can conduct an employment history check to verify an applicant’s current or previous job status, job titles, salary, and tenure. Employers may also request information regarding the applicant’s reasons for separating from their current or previous employment. There are various agencies that provide this information, such as Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, as well contacting the applicant’s previous employer. If a hiring decision is based on an employment verification report, the applicant is entitled to a copy of the report.
Use of Public Information
There are many forms of public information available to employers to use during their hiring processes, such as sex offender records, civil and criminal court records and any information that can be readily available on social networking sites, such as LinkedIn or Facebook. It is unlawful for employers to use public information to discriminate against applicants.
If you feel you have been discriminated against based on information obtained in your credit report, background check, or employment history, please contact the Scott Law Firm today to help you establish your case.