Background Checks for Job Applicants

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Most employers look into employees’ background before deciding whether to hire them or not as well as when deciding whether they should keep their job or not. The law permit employers to perform background checks before hiring but there are some instances that require an employee’s consent before their information can be gathered. Also, the law limits how employees use the results obtained from a background check.

Questions about background check

Employers can ask all sorts of questions about your background during hiring. He or she may ask about your education, employment history, financial history and even your criminal record.

However, employers are not allowed to ask for your medical information until you get the job as well as your genetic information.

Also, when an employer asks about your background on genetics, disability, age, religion, sex, color, national origin and race, he or she must treat you the same as all the other applicants. Example, an employer is not allowed to ask for extra background information because you are of a different ethnicity or race.

Employees are also protected from retaliation. This means that an employer should not fail to employ you because you accused a previous employer of harassment or discrimination.


When is an employee’s consent required?

An employer needs your consent to obtain certain types of information such as credit report, military records and school transcripts.

Also, if an employer does not gather the records on his own but hires an outside investigator or agency to, it must get a written consent from you first. You do not have to give permission but when applying for a job and you fail to, the employer has the right to reject your application.

Secondly, if an employer fails to hire you, retain or promote you because of something in your background report, it should send you a copy of the report and a note indicating how to contact the company that made the report. This is because background reports often contain errors. If there is a mistake in your report, you can request the reporting company to fix it and then send a copy of the error free report to the employer. You should also inform the employer of the mistake.


The law protects applicants from being denied a job for the following additional reasons

  • Credit reports

Due to the economic downturn in 2008, some states have laws that prohibit employers from discriminating employees based on his or her credit history.

  • Unemployed status

Some states including Oregon and New Jersey prohibit employers from failing to hire applicants because they are unemployed when applying for the position.

  • Criminal records

Also, some states limit the type of criminal records an employer can consider in making a hiring decision. For example employers are prohibited from failing to consider candidates with history of arrests that did not lead to conviction.