How Can Companies Legally Use Your Background Check?
Here's everything you need to know about background checks; their components, what employers look for, and the laws governing their use. Learn ways to safeguard yourself against unfair background checks and the steps you can take if your rights are violated.
Employers often rely on background checks to verify an applicant’s personal information. Background checks can help companies ensure they are selecting the right individual for their team, but there are laws involved. Employers must understand the laws and regulations surrounding background checks, as should individuals who may fall victim to an improper background check.
What is A Background Check?
A background check is a process used by employers or other organizations to verify an individual’s credentials, criminal record, and other personal information. It is usually done when someone applies for a job, loan, or other service that requires the applicant to provide private information.
Background checks can also be conducted on existing employees through routine screenings or random audits. The purpose of these background checks is to ensure that an individual is honest and trustworthy.
What Is Included In A Background Check?
A typical background check will include a review of the applicant’s criminal record, credit information, references, employment, and education history. Depending on the type of job or position being applied for, other personal information may also be included in the background check process.
What Do Employers Look For in A Background Check?
Employers will look for many things that can give them an idea of the applicant's character. They will often look for things such as:
- Criminal records and any past convictions.
- Education and employment history to verify qualifications.
- Credit reports to check for financial responsibility.
- References to validate the quality of work.
- Drug tests to determine if the person is suitable for the job or not.
These background checks are used by employers to ensure they hire individuals who have a clean record and can be trusted with the duties assigned to them.
What Are The Laws And Regulations Surrounding Background Checks?
The use of background checks is governed by federal and state laws. Employers must obtain permission from an applicant before conducting a background check, as well as inform them of their rights to dispute any findings. It is also illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants based on their race, national origin, religion, gender, age, or disability status.
The most important law to consider when conducting background checks is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This act states that employers must:
- Provide the applicant with a clear and conspicuous notice that they will be conducting a background check.
- Obtain written consent from the applicant before conducting a background check.
- Inform the applicant of their rights to dispute any findings in the report.
Failure to comply with these laws can lead to penalties, so employers must take extra care to follow all regulations when conducting background checks.
How To Protect Yourself From Improper Background Checks
While employers must follow the laws when performing background checks, it's important to be aware of your rights as an applicant. The best way to protect yourself from improper background checks is to stay informed and know what information can and cannot be included in a report. You have the right to review your background check before it is used by an employer. If you find any discrepancies or errors in the report, you can dispute them and request that the information be corrected or removed. You should also stay aware of the laws surrounding background checks so that you know when employers are acting outside of their legal rights.
By understanding how employers can legally use your background check and knowing how to protect yourself from improper use, you can ensure that you are treated fairly during the hiring process.
Though it's critical for employers to know what they can and cannot include in a background check, it is equally important for applicants to understand their rights and take steps to make sure their information is being used properly.
What if an Employer Does an Improper Background Check?
It's important to remember that employers must comply with all federal and state laws when conducting background checks. By taking steps to protect yourself from improper use, you can ensure that you are treated fairly during the hiring process.
If you believe that an employer has violated the laws surrounding background checks, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or other consumer protection agencies. These agencies have the power to investigate and take action against employers who fail to comply with these laws.
In addition to filing a complaint, you may be entitled to compensation for any damages caused by an improper background check. Consulting with a lawyer can help you understand your rights and determine the best course of action if you believe an employer has violated any laws.
At Dooley Gembala, our attorneys can help you understand the laws surrounding background checks. Our team of experienced lawyers will review your case and provide guidance on how to best protect your rights or seek compensation for damages. Contact Dooley Gembala today to learn more about your rights and how we can help you protect them.