Pre-employment screening is a process that an employer may do prior to giving a possible candidate a job offer or shortly after one is hired. The screening processes can include but are not limited to: criminal background checks, employment history, criminal background checks, driving records, drug screening, education checks, sex offender registration, skills assessment etc.
Each state is different in what they allow for the pre-employment screening process, but it can also vary by company. This screening can be performed by the company themselves, their corporate entity, or a third party. If the company is using a third party, they have to follow The Fair Credit Reporting Act, also known as FCRA. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law that regulates the collection, disseminations, and use of consumer information, including consumer credit information. A third party consumer reporting agency is responsible under FCRA to provide the consumer with information about him or her in the agency’s file and to take the steps to verify the accuracy of information disputed by a consumer. If negative information is removed as result of a consumer’s dispute it may not be reinserted without giving written notice to the consumer within five days. Consumer Reporting Agencies may not retain negative information for an excessive time. The Fair Credit Reporting Act states how long information may retain on the file; such as late payments, bankruptcies, tax liens, and judgments.
Some may ask why an employer is conducting a pre-employment screening. Well, they want to make sure that you are telling the truth. They may want to find out if you have a prior criminal record, and what the offense was, if it was misdemeanor or if it was a felony charge. They may want to make sure that you have all the educational background that you claim on your application or resume. It is estimated that up to 40% of employee resumes contain false or embellished information. They may also want to make sure that you also have the experience that you claim to have on your resume or application. The employer may not necessarily be looking for the education, but the experience.
When a background check is performed, you must give your consent in order for the background check to even be run. Once consent is obtained the request for information regarding your background can be obtained. Information typically requested is employee work history, credit reports, school records, and criminal history. The one piece of information that they absolutely cannot request or get their hands on is medical records; however an employee can ask if you have any medical disabilities that may hinder you from performing your best at the job being hired for.
There are two pieces of information that your employer can request without your written consent and that is bankruptcy and driving records. That is public information and they do not need permission to obtain these records.