Information not included in background checks
The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets national standards for employment screening. However, under the FCRA the law only applies to background checks performed by outside companies, called "consumer reporting agencies".
Your state may have stronger laws, such as California's Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (Civil Code §1786) or the California Consumer Credit Reporting Agency Act (Civil Code §1785). In addition, many state labor codes and state fair employment guidelines limit the content of an employment background check.
Under the FCRA, a background check report is called a "consumer report." This is the same "official" name given to your credit report, and the same limits on disclosure apply. The FCRA says the following cannot be reported:
- Bankruptcies after 10 years.
- Civil suits, civil judgments, and records of arrest, from date of entry, after seven years.
- Paid tax liens after seven years. Accounts placed for collection after seven years.
- Any other negative information (except criminal convictions) after seven years.
The most recent change to the FCRA made criminal convictions reportable indefinitely. California still follows the seven-year rule as do some other states. To find the limit for reporting criminal convictions in your state, contact your state employment agency or office of consumer affairs. Other laws that should be considered:
- Arrest information- Although arrest record information is public record, in many states employers cannot seek from any source the arrest record of a potential employee. However, if the arrest resulted in a conviction, or if the applicant is out of jail but pending trial, that information can be used. For example, if an employee was arrested but never convicted, a data search could reveal the arrest, but the investigator who compiled the information might not delve further into the public records to determine if the employee was acquitted or if the charges were dropped. Reputable employment screening companies always verify negative information obtained from data base searches against the actual public records filed at the courthouse.
- Workers' compensation- In most states when an employee's claim goes through the state system or the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB), the case becomes public record. An employer may only use this information if an injury might interfere with one's ability to perform required duties. Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, employers cannot use medical information or the fact an applicant filed a workers' compensation claim to discriminate against applicants. (42 USC §12101).
- Bankruptcies- Bankruptcies are public record. However, employers cannot discriminate against applicants because they have filed for bankruptcy. (11 USC §525)
Though national in scope, data provided by NationsCheck is compiled from multiple public record data sources. NationsCheck makes no claims to the completeness of its database or that data for all states or jurisdictions is included in its current product offerings. NationsCheck takes reasonable measures to update these records as available, but as in all public records, we rely on the completeness and accuracy of each state's records. NationsCheck takes reasonable measures to update these records as available.
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