Pre-Employment Background Checks: What You Need to Know

Hiring a new employee is a big step – whether it’s your first employee ever, a new position that needs filled or a replacement, there’s a degree of trust that must be established for the professional relationship to be a success. You could be sharing confidential information relating to your business or clients with this individual, therefore, background checks are important.

However, there are limits. Certain information is grounds for making hiring decisions while other information is not. Do you understand the different background checks and what you’re able to do with the information you find? Consider this your guide.

Credit Reports

Provided an employer obtains a potential employee’s written consent, they are able to perform a credit check under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If an employment or promotion decision is made based upon this information, the applicant must be provided with a copy of the report along with a document that outlines his or her right to challenge the report.

Lie Detector Tests

Employers are generally prohibited from using lie detector tests to make hiring decisions or during a period of employment. While there are a few exceptions – armored car services, guard services and pharmaceutical dispensers – these tests usually violate discrimination laws and violations of privacy.

Medical Records

In general, medical records are protected as confidential under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employers cannot discriminate or make hiring decisions based upon a mental or physical impairment or disability. While an employer can inquire about a potential hire’s ability to perform certain tasks, that is considered the limit.

Criminal Records

While it is legal to ask about criminal records on employment forms, the extent to which an employer may consider a potential hire’s criminal history varies by state and industry. For this reason, it’s important to consult a business law attorney prior to taking action.

Military Service

In general, consent is required to release detailed military service records to employers. Exceptions to this, which can be released by the military without consent, include names, ranks, duty assignments, duty status, awards and salaries.

Workers’ Compensation Records

Because workers’ compensation records and appeals are considered public information, this information can be used to make hiring decisions if the employer can substantiate that a specific injury could interfere with an applicant’s ability to perform certain job duties.

If you have questions relating to which records you can investigate during the hiring process, it’s best to consult an experienced business lawyer, like Michael Hynum with Hynum Law. We will work with you to ensure your practices are legally sound and to provide guidance. Contact us today – we look forward to working with you.