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Background Checks and an Employee’s Rights

backcheck

Here is the scenario: you’ve just applied for a new job, the interview went great, and the only thing standing between you and your new career is a background check. Many employees in this situation may wonder, what are your rights when it comes to background checks in employment? Can your employer run a background check on you at any time? Do they have to share the information with you?

It is important to know that  you do have rights as an employee when it comes to background checks and credit checks. Under federal law, employees must follow steps to ensure that the checks are not discriminatory on the basis of race color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, genetic information, and age. Even more importantly, an employer performing any sort of background or credit check on an employee at any time must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Your Rights Before an Employer Requests a Background Check

As an employee or potential employee, you have rights concerning background checks and credit checks. What must the employer do prior to obtaining a background report? Prior to obtaining information in a background report, the FCRA and other laws require that an employer must:

  • Tell you that the information obtained in the background check may be used to make a decision about your employment and ask for your written permission to do the report;
  • Inform you about whether the employer will be conducting an “investigative report,” which includes information gathered from personal interviews;
  • Certify that the applicant has been notified and has consented, that all FCRA requirements have been met, and that no discrimination will occur in violation of the law.

What Are Your Rights When an Employer Finds Negative Information?

You should know that you do not have to give an employer permission to obtain information in a background check, but if you refuse, it is legal for the employer to reject your application and/or potentially terminate your employment. What rights do you have if there is negative information (or perceived negative information) contained in your background check that the employer may use to make a decision about your hiring, retention, promotion, or reassignment? If your employer elects not hire, keep, or promote you because of something in the report, then the employer is required to do the following:

  • give you the name, address, and phone number of the company that supplied the credit report or background information;
  • give you a statement that the company that supplied the information didn’t make the decision to take the adverse action and can’t give you any specific reasons for it; and
  • give you a notice of your right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information in your report and to get an additional free report from the company that supplied the credit or other background information if you ask for it within 60 days.

If it turns out there is a mistake in the report, you can ask the company that provided the report to correct the error and to supply the employer with a corrected report. You should also inform the employer of the mistake.

Contact an Employee Rights Lawyer in Florida

If you have questions about employee rights and background checks, or think that your background check has been wrongfully obtained, you may have a potential claim under the Fair Credit and Reporting Act.  An experienced Florida employee rights attorney can assist you. Contact Scott Wagner and Associates, P.A. today for more information.

Resources:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0157-employment-background-checks

https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/background_checks_employers.cfm

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Florida 561-653-0008 California 213-377-5200
* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

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