If you’re an employer considering new hires, it is always a good idea to do a background check on them. This kind of check can give you the peace of mind to make your hiring decisions in an informed manner. Today, it is becoming a lot harder to conduct these checks because many states around the country are placing legal limitations on their extent. For example, some states don’t allow you to check a candidate’s criminal history or credit scores. Here are some of the legal limitations you have to watch out for with your employees.
Background Checks May Not be Allowed Everywhere
According to experts in the field, it may actually be illegal to conduct background checks in some states or countries. Regardless of when you use them, they are banned in some cities. If you’re in a location that allows you to conduct such checks on your employees, though, you should. It doesn’t even have to be for new hires – you can check background when promoting an employee or shifting them to a new department. These checks are also usually legal if they are conducted in departments that require a high level of security, including financial departments.
Always Get Consent from the Candidate
This is crucial to staying above the law when you’re conducting a background check on your employees or prospective hires. You have to notify all applicants you will be checking about the check. This has to be done in writing, sent to them, and should be separate to their contract or their applications. This notification has to be paired with written consent from the applicant. If they don’t agree to the check, you are legally prohibited from doing it. Of course, the laws vary depending on the state – you’re sometimes allowed to check basic information without getting consent. It is a good idea always to get consent anyway.
Discrimination is a HUGE No-no
You must never run different checks on different applicants due to their demographic. Just because one applicant comes from a less wealthy area of the city, for example, is no reason to run a criminal background check on them and not on someone from a more affluent area applying to the same position. You must always treat every applicant for a position equally. The checks you run have to be for the same information. If you decide to skip a category based on information like race, gender, sexual orientation, or even looks, you’re likely to find a lawsuit on your hands. Discrimination is a very serious charge that could see your company crash and burn very quickly.
Knowing the limitations of the law is very important when conducting background checks. If you’re hiring a firm to do the checks for you, it is a lot easier. They know exactly what they can and can’t do in their location. If you’re doing it on your own, hire a lawyer first. No matter what you check, always get written consent prior to doing so.