Whether you are hired or promoted for a job may depend on the information revealed
in a background check. Job applicants and existing employees as well as volunteers
may be asked to submit to background checks. For some jobs, screening is required
by federal or state law. The current emphasis on security and safety has dramatically
increased the number of employment background checks conducted.
In short, employers are being cautious. At the same time, applicants and employees
fear that employers can dig into the past in ways that have nothing to do with the
This guide explains the why and how of background checks. It also
tells you what can be covered in a background report, your rights under the Fair
Credit Reporting Act, and what you can do to prepare. For more information, go to
the References section at the end of this guide. The PRC does not perform background
Part 1. Why Does an Employer Conduct a Background Check?
Part 2. What Is Included in a Background Check?
Part 3. What Cannot be in a Background Check
Part 4: Who Conducts Background Checks?
Part 5. Fair Credit Reporting Act and Background
Part 6 FCRA Update: Workplace Investigations and Annual File Disclosures
Part 7. Background Checks and Your Credit Report
Part 8. Investigative Consumer Reports - What Will
Your Neighbors Say?
Part 9. How to Prepare for a Background Check
Part 10. References
Part 1. Why Does an Employer Conduct a Background Check?
Employers check potential and current workers for several reasons. The things an
employer wants to know about you can vary with the kinds of jobs you might seek.
Here are a few of the reasons for employment screening.
- Negligent hiring lawsuits are on the rise. If an employee's actions hurt
someone, the employer may be liable. The threat of liability gives employers reason
to be cautious in checking an applicant's past. A bad decision can wreck havoc on
a company's budget and reputation as well as ruin the career of the hiring official.
Employers no longer feel secure in relying on their instinct as a basis to hire.
- Current events have caused an increase in employment screening.
- Child abuse and child abductions in the news in recent years have resulted
in new laws in almost every state that require criminal background checks for anyone
who works with children. The move to protect children through criminal background
checks now includes volunteers who serve as coaches for youth sports activities
and scout troop leaders.
- Terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, have resulted in heightened security
and identity-verification strategies by employers. Potential job candidates and
long-time employees alike are being examined with a new eye following September
- Corporate executives, officers, and directors now face a degree of scrutiny
in both professional and private life unknown before the Enron debacle and other
corporate scandals of 2002.
- False or inflated information supplied by job applicants is frequently in
the news. Some estimates are that 30% to 40% of all job applications and resumes
include some false or inflated facts. Such reports make employers wary of accepting
anyone's word at face value.
- Federal and state laws require that background checks be conducted for certain
jobs. For example, most states require criminal background checks for anyone who
works with children, the elderly, or disabled. The federal National Child Protection
Act authorizes state officials to access the FBI's National Crime Information Center
(NCIC) database for some positions. Many state and federal government jobs require
a background check, and depending on the kind of job, may require an extensive investigation
for a security clearance.
- The "information age" itself may be a reason for the increase in employment
screening -- the availability of computer databases containing millions of records
of personal data. As the cost of searching these sources drops, employers are finding
it more feasible to conduct background checks.
I don't have anything to hide. Why should I worry?
While some people are not concerned about background investigations, others are
uncomfortable with the idea of an investigator poking around in their personal history.
In-depth background checks could unearth information that is irrelevant, taken out
of context, or just plain wrong. A further concern is that the report might include
information that is illegal to use for hiring purposes or which comes from questionable
Part 2. What Is Included in a Background Check?
Background reports can range from a verification of an applicant's Social Security
number to a detailed account of the potential employee's history and acquaintances.
Here are some of the pieces of information that might be included in a background
check. Note that many of these sources are public records created by government
Social Security no.
State licensing records
Drug test records
Sex offender lists
Part 3. What Cannot Be in a Background Check Report?
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets national standards for employment
screening. However, the law only applies to background checks performed by an outside
company, called a "consumer reporting agency" under the FCRA. The law does not apply
in situations where the employer conducts background checks inhouse.
Your state may have stronger laws, such as California's Investigative Consumer Reporting
Agencies Act (Civil Code Â§1786) and the California Consumer Credit Reporting
Agency Act (Civil Code Â§1785). In addition, many state labor codes and state fair
employment guidelines limit the content of an employment background check. (For
more on the FCRA, see Part 5.)
Under the FCRA, a background check report is called a "consumer report." This is
the same "official" name given to your credit report, and the same limits on disclosure
apply. The FCRA says the following cannot be reported:
Bankruptcies after 10 years.
- Civil suits, civil judgments, and records of arrest, from date
of entry, after seven years.
- Paid tax liens after seven years.
- Accounts placed for collection after seven years.
- Any other negative information (except criminal convictions)
after seven years.
The most recent change to the FCRA made criminal convictions reportable indefinitely.
California still follows the seven-year rule (CA Civil Code 1786.18) as do some
other states. To find the limit for reporting criminal convictions in your state,
contact your state employment agency or office of consumer affairs. Other laws that
should be considered:
Although arrest record information is public record,
in California and other states employers cannot seek from any source the arrest
record of a potential employee. However, if the arrest resulted in a conviction,
or if the applicant is out of jail but pending trial, that information can be used.
(California Labor Code Â§432.7).
In California, an exception exists for the health care industry where any employer
who has an interest in hiring a person with access to patients can ask about sex
related arrests. And, when an employee may have access to medications, an employer
can ask about drug related arrests.
- Criminal history. In California, criminal histories or "rap sheets" compiled
by law enforcement agencies are not public record. Only certain employers such as
public utilities, law enforcement, security guard firms, and child care facilities
have access to this information. (California Penal Code Â§Â§11105, 13300) With the
advent of computerized court records and arrest information, however, there are
private companies that compile virtual "rap sheets."
Employers need to use caution in checking criminal records. Information offered
to the public by web-based information brokers is not always accurate or up to date.
This violates both federal and California law when reported as such. Also, in California,
an employer may not inquire about a marijuana conviction that is more than two years
- Workers' compensation. In most states including California, when an employee's
claim goes through the state system or the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB),
the case becomes public record. An employer may only use this information if an
injury might interfere with one's ability to perform required duties. Under the
federal Americans with Disabilities Act, employers cannot use medical information
or the fact an applicant filed a workers' compensation claim to discriminate against
applicants. (42 USC Â§12101).
In California, employers may access workers' compensation records after making an
offer of employment. To gain access, employers must register with the WCAB and confirm
that the records are being accessed for legitimate purposes. Although the agency
may not reveal medical information and the employer may not rescind an offer due
to a workers' compensation claim (California Labor Code 132a), employers sometimes
discover that applicants have not revealed previous employers where they had filed
claims. In such situations, employers often terminate the new hire because it appears
they falsified the application.
- Bankruptcies. Bankruptcies are public record. However, employers cannot discriminate
against applicants because they have filed for bankruptcy. (11 USC Â§525)
Although these laws should prevent an employer from considering certain information,
there is no realistic way for the applicant to determine whether such information
will be revealed in a background check. This is particularly true for investigations
conducted online where the information obtained from web-based information brokers
might not be verified for accuracy or completeness.
For example, if you were arrested but never convicted, a data search could reveal
the arrest, but the investigator who compiled the information might not delve further
into the public records to determine that you were acquitted or the charges were
dropped. Reputable employment screening companies always verify negative information
obtained from data base searches against the actual public records filed at the
Can an employment application ask about things that should not be reported?
The FCRA does not prohibit an employer from asking questions in an employment application.
See FTC letters to Nadell and Sum:
For example, an employment application might ask if you have "ever" been arrested.
The FCRA says a consumer reporting agency cannot report an arrest that from
date of entry was more than seven years ago. It does not say the
employer cannot ask the question.
How to handle such questions on an employment application is of real concern to
many people, especially those concerned with a youthful mistake from the distant
State employment laws may limit the questions an employer includes on a job application.
For example, in California an application may ask "job related questions about convictions
except those that have been sealed, or expunged, or statutorily eradicated," but
applications cannot ask "general questions regarding an arrest." http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/DFEH/Publications/PublicationDocs/DFEH-161.pdf
It is important to remember, however, that even the restrictions on reporting imposed
by the FCRA do not apply to jobs with an annual salary of $75,000 or more a year.
Aren't some of my personal records confidential?
The following types of information may be useful for an employer to make a hiring
decision. However, under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, the employer is
required to get your permission before obtaining the records. (See PRC Fact Sheet
11, "From Cradle to Grave: Government Records and Your Privacy," www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs11-pub.htm)
- Education records. Under both federal and California law, transcripts, recommendations,
discipline records, and financial information are confidential. A school should
not release student records without the authorization of the adult-age student or
parent. However, a school may release "directory information," which can include
name, address, dates of attendance, degrees earned, and activities, unless the student
has given written notice otherwise. (20 USC Â§1232g)
- Military service records. Under the federal Privacy Act, service records
are confidential and can only be released under limited circumstances. Inquiries
not authorized by the subject of the records must be made under the Freedom of Information
Act. Even without the applicant's consent, the military may release name, rank,
salary, duty assignments, awards, and duty status. (5 USC Â§Â§552, 552a) For more
on military records, visit the National Archives and Records Administration web
- Medical records. In California and many states, medical records are confidential.
There are only a few instances when a medical record can be released without your
knowledge or authorization. The FCRA also requires your specific permission for
the release of medical records. If employers require physical examinations after
they make a job offer, they will have access to the results. The Americans with
Disabilities Act allows a potential employer to inquire only about your ability
to perform specific job functions. (42 USC Â§12101)
There are other questions such as age, marital status, and certain psychological
tests that employers cannot use when interviewing. These issues are beyond the scope
of this fact sheet. If you have further questions, contact the resources at the
end of this fact sheet. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and
the fair employment agencies in the states handle these issues.
What can my former employer say about me?
Often a potential employer will contact an applicant's past employers. A former
boss can say anything [truthful] about your performance. However, most employers
have a policy to only confirm dates of employment, final salary, and other limited
information. California law prohibits employers from intentionally interfering with
former employees' attempts to find jobs by giving out false or misleading references.
(California Labor Code Â§1050)
Under California law and the laws of many other states, employees have a right to
review their own personnel files and make copies of documents they have signed.
If you are a state or federal employee, your personnel file is protected under the
California Information Practices Act or the federal Privacy Act of 1974 and can
only be disclosed under limited circumstances. (California Civil Code Â§56.20; California
Labor Code Â§Â§432, 1198.5; 5 USC Â§552a)
Jobs such as truck driver positions fall under regulations of the federal Department
of Transportation. Employers are required to accurately respond to an inquiry from
a prospective employer about whether you took a drug test, refused a drug test,
or tested positive in a drug test with the former or current employer. (49 CFR Â§40.25,
49 CFR Â§382.413.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations)
Part 4. Who Conducts Background Checks?
There are many companies that specialize in employment screening. It is outside
the purpose of this fact sheet to identify background checking companies by name.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that companies conducting background
checks fall into several broad categories. This can range from individuals commonly
known as "private investigators," to companies that do nothing but employment screening,
and to online data brokers.
Corporations that employ large numbers of people may have an established relationship
with a third-party background checking company or may even use an affiliated company
for their employment screening. Other background checking companies may work on
a less formal basis with employers. There are about several companies that conduct
employment screening and thousands others nationwide, including private investigators.
With the information age upon us, it is easy for employers to gather background
information themselves. Much of it is computerized, allowing employers to log on
to public records and commercial databases directly through dial-up networks or
via the Internet. Finding one of these online companies is as easy as using an Internet
search engine to find web sites that specialize in "background checks." Employers
should beware of companies advertising on the Internet that they can "find everything
about anyone." They are not necessarily going to be in strict compliance with federal
and state laws, especially the provisions that require accuracy of background check
Part 5. Fair Credit Reporting Act and Background Checks
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 USC Â§1681 et seq.) does not require
employers to conduct employment background checks. But the law sets a national
standard that employers must follow in employment screening. State laws may give
an employee more rights than the FCRA.
Do I have a right to know when a background check is requested?
Yes. Amendments to the FCRA, in effect September 30, 1997, increase the disclosure
and consent requirements of employers who use "consumer reports." Such reports might
consist only of a credit check. (See Part 6) More extensive reports
might include criminal histories, driving records, and interviews with neighbors,
friends and associates.
To be covered by the FCRA, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that a report
must be prepared by an outside company -- a "consumer reporting agency" or business
that "for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages
in ... assembling ... information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer
reports to third parties." (FCRA Â§603f)
Under the FCRA, the employer must obtain the applicant's written authorization before
the background check is conducted. The authorization must be on a document separate
from all other documents such as an employment application. In California, at the
time an employer obtains permission for a background check, the applicant or employee
should also be told that he or she may request a copy of the report. The
FCRA, in contrast, says the subject is entitled to a copy of the report if
a pre-adverse notice is given.
Under federal law, if the employer uses information from the consumer report for
an "adverse action" - that is, denying the job applicant, terminating the employee,
rescinding a job offer, or denying a promotion - it must take the following steps,
which are explained further in the Federal Trade Commission's web site, http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre36.shtm
- Before the adverse action is taken, the employer must give the applicant
a "pre-adverse action disclosure." This includes a copy of the report and an explanation
of the consumer's rights under the FCRA.
- After the adverse action is taken, the individual must be given an "adverse
action notice." This document must contain the name, address, and phone number of
the employment screening company, a statement that this company did not make the
adverse decision, rather that the employer did, and a notice that the individual
has the right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any of the information
in the report.
Modified disclosure and adverse action procedures under the FCRA (Â§604(b)(3)(B))
apply to positions subject to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations
such as truck drivers. The DOT has independent authority to set qualifications for
workers in transportation industries. (49 USC Â§31502)
Does the FCRA fall short?
The federal law has two significant loopholes. First, if the employer does not
use a third-party screening company but, rather conducts the background check itself,
it is not subject to the notice and consent provisions of the FCRA. Second,
the employer might tell the rejected applicant that its adverse decision was not
based on the contents of the background investigation, but, rather that the job
pool was so exceptional that it made its hiring decision based on the fact that
there were individuals more qualified than the applicant.
In both of these situations, the applicant would not have the ability to obtain
a copy of the background check to find out what negative information it contained.
We have learned of situations where the individual remained unemployed for years,
not knowing that wrongful criminal records which resulted from identity theft were
the reason for the individual's failure to find employment. (Read "Identity Theft:
The Growing Problem of Wrongful Criminal Records,"
Recent amendments to California's "investigative consumer reporting" law have closed
those loopholes. California law now requires that individuals who are subject to
employment screening are able to obtain a copy of the background check whether or
not an adverse action has been taken. And applicants have the same rights to notice
and consent whether the employer hires an outside company to conduct the investigation
or does the background check itself. (California Civil Code Â§1786). And now in California
when an individual requests a copy of their report from the consumer reporting agency,
the agency must explain their rights in a document written in both English and Spanish.
Part 6. FCRA Update: Workplace Investigations and Annual
Recent amendments to the FCRA, known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions
Act of 2003 or FACTA, set a new standard for what FACTA calls "employee misconduct
investigations." In addition, FACTA says job applicants and employees who have undergone
an employment background screening covered by the FCRA may receive a free annual
file disclosure from the company that performed the background check.
What is an "employee misconduct investigation"?
This is an investigation conducted by a third-party your employer may hire if the
employer suspects you of:
- Misconduct relating to your employment.
- A violation of federal, state or local laws or regulations.
- A violation of any preexisting written policies of the employer.
- Noncompliance with the rules of a self-regulatory organization,
that, for example, oversees the securities and commodity futures industry.
Why was this change made to the FCRA?
This section was adopted to make it clear that employers do not have to get permission
to conduct a misconduct investigation. Prior to this, FTC staff issued an opinion
letter, the so-called "Vail Letter," that said the FCRA applies even when an employee
is suspected of misconduct and the employer hires an outside investigator. (Note:
California law already includes an exception for workplace misconduct investigations.
If my employer suspects me of misconduct, what does this mean for me?
It means your employer does not have to give you notice and get your permission
to conduct a misconduct investigation. Like other inquiries covered by the FCRA,
this only applies if the employer hires an outside party to conduct the investigation.
It also means you will not receive a notice of your rights as others who are subject
to a standard employment background check normally would. If, at the end of the
investigation, the employer decides to take some action against you, you receive
the "adverse action" notice only after the action has been taken.
You will receive only a "summary" of the investigation report, but not the more
detailed report that may include sources.
Who will see the investigation report?
The report may be communicated to:
- The employer or its agent.
- Any federal or state officer, agency or department or any officer,
agency or department of a unit of general local government.
- Any self-regulatory organization with regulatory authority
over the activities of the employer or the employee.
- Others, as is otherwise required by law; or
- A government agency, in accordance with an existing FCRA section
that allows a consumer reporting agency to disclose personal identifying information
to a government agency.
Can I dispute the findings?
Not under the FCRA dispute procedure. That is because this new section on workplace
misconduct investigations was effected by removing this type of investigation from
the definition of "consumer report." Thus, the usual protections that apply to a
"consumer report" conducted for employment purposes do not apply to workplace misconduct
investigations. If you find yourself in this position, you will probably want to
seek the advice of an employment law attorney.
Annual File Disclosure
Another new feature of the FCRA allows consumers to get a free copy of their credit
report once a year. Final regulations adopted by the FTC set a geographical "rollout"
schedule for free credit reports beginning December 1, 2004. The final regulations
can be found on the FTC's web site at
www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/06/freeannual.htm The schedule for access to free credit
reports is also available on the PRC web site:
FACTA also requires a free annual file disclosure for consumer reports prepared
by "nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies." This refers to companies
that compile, maintain files, and issue reports on consumers that relate to:
- Medical records or payments.
- Residential or tenant history.
- Check writing history.
- Employment history.
- Insurance claims.
For job applicants and employees, this means, starting in January 2005, you may
receive a free copy of your "file" maintained by a "nationwide specialty consumer
reporting agency" that supplies employers with background checks. Before, you could
request a copy of your "file" but would have to pay for it.
Now, companies that provide employment background check reports have to, as a minimum,
set up a toll-free number that gives you instructions on how to get the information
in your "file." Companies may but are not required to also provide access to the
free "file" disclosure through a web site address.
Your "file" is not the same as your "report." The "report" is the document the background
screening company gives to your employer. The FCRA gives you the right to receive
a copy of your "report" directly from the employer," but only if the employer issues
an "adverse action" notice. Your "file" is defined in the FCRA as ".all of the information
[about you] recorded and retained by a consumer reporting agency regardless of how
the information is stored." (FCRA Â§603(g)) You are entitled to see your "file,"
whether or not the employer gives the "adverse action" notice.
The FTC has declined to publish a list of national specialty consumer reporting
agencies that are subject to this requirement. We will publish a list of these agencies
and the toll free number or other means of access as this information becomes available.
In the meantime, if you are asked to submit to an employment background check, it
is a good idea to ask the employer for the name of the company that will do the
Part 7. Background Checks and Your Credit Report
An employment background check often includes a copy of your credit report. The
three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) provide
a modified version of the credit report called an "employment report." An "employment
report" includes information about your credit-payment history and other credit
habits from which current or potential employers might draw conclusions about you.
An employment report provides everything a standard credit report would provide.
However it doesn't include your credit score or date of birth. Nor does it place
an "inquiry" on your credit file that may be seen by a company looking to issue
you credit. Having too many credit inquiries tends to lower your credit score.
My job doesn't require handling money. Why does the employer do a credit check?
Often employers use your credit history to gauge your level of responsibility. Whether
a valid assumption or not, some employers believe if you are not reliable in paying
your bills, then you will not be a reliable employee. Unfortunately, a bad credit
report can work against you in your search for employment. For more on how a credit
record can affect your job search, see the FTC's fact sheet on this topic.
In addition to your payment history, a credit report typically includes information
about your former addresses and previous employers. Employers can use this as one
way to verify the accuracy of information you provide on an application or resume.
I never use credit. Can an employer hold that against me?
Yes. The employer might be looking for someone who has an established record of
paying bills on time. The FCRA says only that certain things like negative information
more than seven years old cannot be considered. The absence of a credit history
can also be considered. But if this bit of information means you don't get the job,
the employer has to give you an adverse notice decision. For more on an employer's
responsibility under the FCRA, see
Part 8. Investigative Consumer Reports:
What Will Your Neighbors Say?
Can an employer ask my friends and neighbors about me?
Yes. Under the FCRA, a background check that includes interviews with "neighbors,
friends, or associates" about your "character, general reputation, personal characteristics,
or mode of living" is called an "investigative consumer report." (The term "investigative
consumer report" has a different meaning under California Law. See www.leginfo.ca.gov, Civil Code Â§1786.)
When information about you is gathered from interviews, the FCRA requires a separate
disclosure. You are also entitled to know the "nature and scope" of an investigative
consumer report, but you have to ask. For more on how the FTC staff interprets the
term "investigative consumer report" and other keys topics under the FCRA, visit
the FTC web site
Part 9. How to Prepare for a Background Check
When you know you are going to be on the job market, take the following steps to
reduce the chances that you and/or the potential employer will be "surprised" by
information found in the background check process:
- Order a copy of your credit report. If there is something you do not recognize
or that you disagree with, dispute the information with the creditor and/or credit
bureau before you have to explain it to the interviewer. Another individual's name
may appear on your credit report. This happens when someone mistakenly writes down
the wrong Social Security number on a credit application causing that name to appear
on your file. Or you might be a victim of identity theft. (See PRC Fact Sheet 6
on your credit reporting rights,
www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs6-crdt.htm, and Fact Sheet 17a on identity theft,
- Check court records. If you have an arrest record or have been involved in
court cases, go to the county where this took place and inspect the files. Make
sure the information is correct and up to date.
Reporting agencies often report felony convictions when the consumer truly believes
the crime was reduced to a misdemeanor, or that it was reported as a misdemeanor
conviction when the consumer thought the charge was reduced to an infraction. Court
records are not always updated correctly. For example, a signature that was needed
to reduce the charges might not have been obtained or recorded by the court. Don't
rely on what your attorney may have told you. If you think the conviction was expunged
or dismissed, get a certified copy of your report from the court.
- Check DMV records. Request a copy of your driving record from the Department
of Motor Vehicles, especially if you are applying for a job that involves driving.
Many employers ask on their application if you were ever convicted of a crime. Or
they might word the question to ask whether you have ever been convicted of a felony
or misdemeanor. Typically, the application says you do not have to divulge a case
that was expunged or dismissed, or that was a minor traffic violation.
Don't be confused. A DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated)
conviction is not considered a minor traffic infraction. Applicants with
a DUI or DWI who have not checked "yes" on a job application may be denied employment
for falsifying the form -- even when the incident occurred only once or happened
many years before. The employer perceives this as dishonesty, even though the applicant
might only have been confused by the question.
- Do your own background check. If you want to see what an employer's background
check might uncover, hire a company that specializes in such reports to conduct
one for you. That way, you can discover if the data bases of information vendors
contain erroneous or misleading information. (Consult the Yellow Pages under "Investigators.")
Or, you can use one of the many online search services to find out what an employer
would learn if conducting a background check in this way.
- Ask to see a copy of your personnel file from your old job. Even if you do
not work there anymore, state law might enable you to see your file. Under California
law, you can access your file until at least a year from the last date of employment.
And you are allowed to make copies of documents in your file that have your signature
on them. (California Labor Code Â§432.) You may also want to ask if your former employer
has a policy about the release of personnel records. Many companies limit the amount
of information they disclose.
- Read the fine print carefully. When you sign a job application, you will
be asked to sign a consent form if a background check is conducted. Read this statement
carefully and ask questions if the authorization statement is not clear. Unfortunately,
jobseekers are in an awkward position, since refusing to authorize a background
check may jeopardize the chances of getting the job.
Notice of a background check has to be on a separate form. The only other information
this form can include is your authorization and information that identifies you.
Neither the notice of a background check nor any other form should ask questions
like "race," "sex," "full date of birth," or "maiden name." Such questions violate
the federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws. And, you should not be asked to sign
any document that waives your right to sue a screening company or the employer for
violations of the law.
- Tell neighbors and work colleagues, past and present, that they might be
asked to provide information about you. This helps avoid suspicion and alerts you
to possible problems. In addition, their prior knowledge gives them permission to
disclose information to the investigator. Forewarning others speeds up the process
and helps you get the job faster.
Part 10. References
Laws on Background Checks
Laws on Workplace Discrimination
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
The EEOC was established by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It enforces
the following laws:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII),
which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or
national origin. 42 USC Â§2000e, www.eeoc.gov.
- Equal Pay Act of 1963, which protects men and women
who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage
discrimination. 29 USC Â§206(d), www.eeoc.gov.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA),
which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older. 29 USC Â§621, www.eeoc.gov.
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which
prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities
in the private sector, and in state and local governments. 42 USC Â§12101, www.eeoc.gov.
Contacting Government Agencies
* U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
1801 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20507
TTY: (202) 663-4494
* EEOC Field Offices
To be automatically connected with the nearest EEOC field office, call:
TTY: (800) 669-6820
* Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center, CRC-240:
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP(877) 877-382-4357
TTY: (866) 653-4261
- "Negative Credit Can Squeeze a Job Search," www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/ngcrdtalrt.htm
- "Using Consumer Reports: What Employers Need to Know," www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/credempl.htm
- California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing does not currently accept complaints
through the Internet or by mail. For information on how to file an employment-related
complaint, call one of the numbers below.
(800) 884-1684 (Within California)
(916) 227-0551 (Outside California)
Web site: www.dfeh.ca.gov
- Fair Employment Agencies in the 50 States
The following web sites list fair employment agencies in the 50 states:
- "Criminal Records and Getting Back into the Workforce: Six Critical Steps for Ex-offenders
Trying to Get Back into the Workforce," by Les Rosen, Esq. -- September, 2003 www.privacyrights.org/ar/rosencrim.htm
Articles of Interest
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has revised and updated this guide with funding
assistance from the Rose Foundation Consumer Privacy Rights Fund. We acknowledge
the assistance of Barry Nadell, InfoLink Screening Services, in developing this