Is It Legal To Conduct Background Checks On Employees?

Background checks are how employers ascertain whether a potential employee is legit. By gleaning information from outside sources other than the employee themselves, they can determine whether the employee is eligible for the job, has a clean track record, and isn’t hiding any unsavoury behaviours or incidents. These can be done by using check sites.

Growing unrest

There has been a growing movement to restrict the information that employers can dig up, including ‘ban the box’ movements. These movements come in the light of employers attempting to use the information that they gained to discriminate against potential employees or conducting investigations that are far too deep.

Thus, there has been a growing clamour for restrictions on the data employers can get their hands on. Several states in the US, including New York, already have laws that restrict employers from accessing criminal data or allowing credit history to influence their decisions. 

Do employers need to conduct background checks?

Yes, they do. Some employees attempt to give false information, hide information, or even embellish their accomplishments to overshadow their disagreeable history. 

Thus, it is still fairly obvious that employers do need to conduct some sort of background check on employees before hiring them. To keep yourself safe from liabilities, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • If permitted, go for it 

If conducting background checks is permitted in your state, then it would be wise to do so. Background checks help employers figure out whether the employee is ethical, truthful, and a loyal worker. You can find out about them using background check sites

  • Get permission

If you do need to conduct a background check, laws state that you must first:

  • Inform the employee that a background check will be conducted, intimated through writing in a document
  • Obtain the employee’s permission for the same through writing in a document
  • No to discrimination

Be prudent while running background checks on your employees. Do not discriminate on any basis between them. If any one candidate has a bad credit history that is liable for disqualification, all candidates with similar histories must be disqualified. Equality should be present in both hirings and rejecting potential employees. 

  • Search within the law

Even in places where background checks are permitted, do not attempt to dig up information that is:

  • Unnecessary 
  • Confidential 

Without the permission of the employee. It is always better to get whatever information you need after obtaining permission for the same. Medical records, driving records, bankruptcy filings, etc., may not be procured without the employees’ permission for the same. 

Each state has its laws regarding employers conducting background checks. If you must decide concerning the information you gained via a background check, the employee must be informed of the same. 

Employers need to be reasonable with the information they collect about incoming employees, including on how to use and dispose of it. Thus, the onus is on the employer to be fair to all the potential employees. 


Jack is a focused in maintaining a healthy body and mind. So, he follows different health and fitness blogs to get ideas that can help him in remaining fit.

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