What Should I Know About Employer Background Checks?

Background checks are common among employers looking to hire a new employee. However, most applicants may not understand the basics of a background check. They do not know what the employer is checking or how deeply a background check can dig into a job candidate’s past. There are legal limits to what an employer can check, and they can only use them a certain way to eliminate a candidate from consideration.  

What are the Common Types of Background Checks?

A background check is a preliminary investigation into a potential employee. A background check can include:

  • Verifying that a candidate’s employment or education history is accurate on a resume
  • Checking a person’s criminal record for any misdemeanor or felony convictions
  • Investigating the credit history of a candidate; this pertains to jobs where the person will be handling money
  • Checking personal references
  • Drug screening
  • Ensuring a candidate’s social media coincides with the company’s vision, mission, culture, and overall brand.

Some background checks can be handled internally, such as calling references and completing social media browsing. Others, such as verifying criminal records and screening for drugs, are completed with the help of outside providers.

What are My Rights Regarding a Background Check?

Applicants for any job have a right to know what kind of background check a potential employer will use. Employers that do not tell applicants that they will be checked are in violation of employment laws. Most job postings will outline the background checks the employer will complete, such as pointing out that all applicants must pass a drug screening before being hired. In addition, background checks cannot be used to discriminate candidates based on protected classes, including one’s sex and race.

Can My Employer Notify Me About a Bad Background Check?

A frequent mistake many employers make is informing candidates about a problem that came up in their background check.  Candidates have the right to receive a copy of a negative background check from the employer, as well as a letter outlining the specifics of why the employer denied them a job. This gives candidates the opportunity to dispute and rectify any mistakes in the report. For example, a criminal record may incorrectly show that a candidate was convicted of a serious crime. The candidate should have the opportunity to correct the record. If the employer does not provide a denied candidate a copy of their background check, the employer may be sued for violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Why Should I Hire a Lawyer?

Conducting a background check for applicants is a standard practice for many organizations seeking workers. This increases the likelihood of more applicants being pulled out of consideration because of incorrect information or of being denied their basic rights under FCRA provisions. Any prospective employee whose rights have been violated should talk with an employment lawyer as soon as possible to discuss whether to take legal action.

South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Protect Employees’ Rights

The South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC stand ready to help you if a prospective employer violated your legal rights during a background check. Call 856-235-7075 or submit an online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.