Background Checks

Video Highlights:
00:13 A background check can either confirm information that an applicant or employee has supplied, or, in some cases, it can bring new information to light that may result in a negative employment decision. As such, it is a good idea for employers to run checks through reputable contractors that specialize in background screening.

00:55 A background check can be a useful tool when making employment decisions by providing companies with information about an individual’s education and prior employment, criminal record, financial history, and other information that is relevant to the position.

01:19 While federal law generally does not prohibit employers from asking questions about an applicant’s or employee’s background or requiring a background check, several state laws prohibit or limit an employer’s use of, or inquiries regarding, consumer credit reports, criminal records, or certain other components of a background check.

01:48 Any time an employer uses an applicant’s or employee’s background information to make an employment decision, it must comply with applicable federal laws that protect applicants and employees from discrimination.

02:30 It is important to treat everyone equally. The decision to check the background of an applicant or employee should not be made based on a person’s race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information, or age.

03:59 In addition to nondiscrimination laws, employers that get reports from companies in the business of compiling background information must comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA.

05:25 Finally, a word about drug testing, which falls slightly outside the scope of routine background checks. While federal law generally does not prohibit the practice of testing employees for drugs, there are several states that restrict or question an employer’s ability to randomly drug test employees who are not in safety-sensitive positions.

06:09 Remember, background checks are just one piece of the hiring puzzle—and employers must remain fair and legally compliant in all aspects of the process to minimize exposure to lawsuits and fines. It is always wise to contact an attorney if you have specific questions. In the meantime, to learn more about interviews, hiring, and avoiding discriminatory missteps, visit us at


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