EmployeeIssues.comU.S. Employee Rights in Plain English
Repair your Credit with the Leaders in Credit Repa
Employment Contracts and AgreementsAgreements
Attorney Referral ServiceAttorney Referral
Employee BenefitsBenefits
Employee Rights BlogBlog
Work Breaks and LeaveBreaks & Leave
Child LaborChild Labor
Independent ContractorContractor
Criminal Record - Job and Employment DecisionsCriminal Record
Work HoursHours
Workplace and Employment RetaliationRetaliation
Workplace Safety and HealthSafety & Health
Employment Termination and DischargeTermination
Labor UnionsUnions
Wages and PayWages & Pay
Workplace IssuesWorkplace
Find a New Job
jobs by Indeed job search
You are Here: Home > Hiring > Employment Background Checks

Employment Background Checks

Employment Background Checks Definition

Employment background checks are also commonly called reference checks. But reference checks, such as contacting your former bosses and coworkers, are typically only one part of employment background checks, which also include investigation into one or more of the following.

Beware! The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved social-media screening in employment background checks. Subsequently, be careful about what you post at social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

Employers conduct employment background checks to verify the integrity of job applicants and employees for hiring, promotion, reassignment and retention decisions. They also do so to avoid negligent-hiring lawsuits; for example, if an employer doesn't conduct employment background checks before hiring, then the employer might be liable if a job applicant later harms other employees and has a history of doing so.

Employers hire investigative (consumer-reporting, credit-reporting or background-check) agencies to conduct employment background checks. Alternately or additionally, employers rely on their human resources departments to conduct them.

Did you know?Some job seekers who have had difficulty landing jobs hire investigative agencies to conduct background checks on themselves, so they may attempt to change any negative or inaccurate information. If you're having trouble landing a job and can't figure why, then you might consider doing the same.

Employment background checks are generally legal. (Much personal information is a matter of public record these days. Anyone can access pubic records.) In fact, the Federal government has long required its agencies to conduct background checks for certain jobs, often as part of security-clearance investigations. After 9/11, the government required its private-sector contractors to do the same and a subsequent Supreme Court ruling upheld the requirement as constitutional.

Additionally, certain state and Federal laws require employers to conduct background checks (particularly for criminal records) when jobs involve "vulnerable" individuals, such as children or people who are sick, disabled, or elderly.

However, state and Federal laws do regulate background checks to some degree; for example, an investigative agency hired by an employer cannot conduct a credit check without a job applicant's permission and must disclose the applicant's rights. After the Great Recession officially ended, some states passed laws that further restricted or prohibited credit checks for employment purposes.

Did you know?Technically, job applicants may refuse to authorize background checks; but, in reality, they're less likely to land new jobs if they do.

It's a misconception that it's "illegal" for employers to disclose information about former employees during employment background checks. Generally, relevant state laws allow employers to disclose information about former employees, as long as the information is truthful, factual and limited to employment matters. Read the next page for more about this.

Next Page > Background Check Laws
Page > 1 2

Ask a Lawyer Online Now
Subscribe to Employee Rights Blog RSS FeedSubscribe
Custom Search
Search Tips
Legal, effective credit report repair
Land a Job
jobs by Indeed
Do not reproduce content from this or any page. Plagiarism will be detected by Copyscape. See copyright notice below.
Consult a Lawyer for Legal Advice
Copyright Notice