What Can a Company Legally Find Out About Your Background?

April 25th, 2017

If you’re searching for a job, chances are you’ll be asked to give employers permission to perform a background check. Once you grant permission, they may find out a variety of information about you. Although employers are typically trying to avoid negligent hiring lawsuits by looking into an applicant’s background before deciding whether to hire them, employers may discover information about you that you don’t want them to. Here are a few things a company can legally find out about your background.

Criminal Record

If you have a criminal record, an employer may access it. Although employers may view arrest records under federal law, state or local laws may have more restrictions that need to be followed. For example, some states don’t let employers question candidates about their criminal history until later in the hiring process. Also, some states allow limited access to juvenile records and specific misdemeanors. In addition, expunged records don’t need to be disclosed, as the court system decided the issue no longer needed to be recorded.

Employers who are allowed to look into criminal records should pay attention to how long ago a criminal event happened, whether it relates to the job being applied for, and whether there was a conviction.  A conviction may have more of an impact on a role within an organization than simply an arrest.

Credit History

If you failed to pay a debt on time, filed for bankruptcy or have bad credit, you may be denied a job. Employers want to know you’re responsible with your own finances so you’re more likely to be responsible with a company’s finances. This is especially important for accounting, finance or other positions that involve direct contact with an organization’s money.

However, employers need to be careful about using third-party credit reporting agencies for background checks. Because employers may be held responsible for an agency’s errors, employers are encouraged to check the agency’s rating with the Better Business Bureau to ensure the agency is reputable. Also, many states restrict or prohibit employers from accessing credit reports to decide whether to hire a candidate.

Social Media Accounts

If your accounts are available for public viewing, be sure you post words and photos appropriate for a professional audience. Avoid sharing pictures from college parties, comments or jokes that are offensive, and other items you wouldn’t want an employer seeing.

However, employers need to be careful about finding out a candidate’s age, potential disability or other protected status. If a factor covered under antidiscrimination laws is proven to be used to deny an applicant a job, the employer may face lawsuits.

Work With a Leader in Staffing in Wisconsin

These are a few things a company legally can find out about your background during your job search. If you’re looking for a position in the Milwaukee area, work with a leader in staffing in Milwaukee and contact SourcePoint Staffing today!