Your Rights in an Employee Background Check

Background Check (Partially Designed by Freepik)
March 21, 2023

When you apply for a job or promotion, you can expect the employer to run a background check if they seriously consider hiring or promoting you. However, employers must receive your written consent before conducting the inspection. Background screening is an important step for any employer. As such, refusing background screening could prevent you from getting the position.

However, refusing the background check does not automatically disqualify you from getting the job. You still have a chance because many laws protect your rights. This article will discuss what you should know about your rights and what employers can and cannot do when checking backgrounds.

First, employers must ask you the same questions they ask other applicants, as is your right. As such, employers must keep all questions equal. This requirement means they cannot change or judge based on national origin, race, sex, color, disability, genetic information, age (for those 40 or older), or religion.

In addition, employers cannot retaliate against you for asserting your right not to experience employment discrimination. This right applies to all employees and applicants. There are also limits on what questions an employer can ask. For instance, an employer cannot ask about or check your medical information until they offer you a job.

Many states and cities have laws restricting when an employer can ask whether you have a criminal record. These are “Ban the Box” laws, prohibiting employers from including questions about criminal history on applications. They also require employers to make conditional job offers before allowing employers to ask about criminal backgrounds. You should check the laws in your city and state to see if “Ban the Box” applies in your local area.

Suppose your employer or prospective employer has a background check company run the background check. In that case, they must inform you that they may use the report when deciding whether to hire, retain, or promote you. They must also supply this information in writing as a standalone document. Finally, the employer cannot have the background check run until you give written permission for them to conduct the investigation.

Employers must follow a specific process after deciding to take adverse action based on your report. Adverse action includes declining to hire, retain, or promote you. In addition, they must provide you with two documents. One is a copy of the report used to make the decision. The other is a Summary of Rights that includes information to contact the background check company that provided the information.

Here is the information employers must provide in writing, verbally, or electronically if they decide not to hire or promote you based on the background report:

  • The name, phone number, and address of the background reporting company used.
  • They must tell you that the background check company did not make this adverse decision and cannot give you specific reasons for the decision.
  • You have the right to dispute any inaccurate or incomplete information with the background check company. You can do this by contacting the company and following their instructions to dispute the inaccuracies.
  • You have the right to another free report from the background check company, but you must request it within 60 days of the employer’s decision.

You should thoroughly check the report for any mistakes and inaccuracies. Should you find an error, you can contact the background reporting company about it. They should provide instructions for disputing the information. Once corrected, you can ask the company to send the employer a copy of the updated report and inform the employer of the mistake.

Finding mistakes in your background report can complicate the hiring process and sour the experience. Consider running a self-background check before applying to prevent incorrect reports from delaying or harming your chances with the potential employer. A self-check allows you to correct mistakes before a potential employer sees them. It will also let you see negative information, preparing you for questions from employers.

Click here to run a self-background check and prepare for your interview now!