There are many different types of background checks, with each one revealing different information. Apart from understanding what a background check entails, it’s important to choose an accredited, FCRA-compliant people search service like Check People.
Employment checks uncover highly sensitive information, which is subject to strict laws for the protection of privacy. Employment-related checks are also subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Limiting Access to Criminal Charge Information
Records of your charges remain public. This information is available at the detention center or jail and the court clerk’s office. Background check services provide it to potential employers. However, restricted records should not appear on reports. If they do, get in touch with the service and ask them to update your report, eliminating this data.
For this to happen, you need to be eligible for restriction. Provide the service with a copy of the case disposition or of your approved restriction application to prove eligibility. A lot of services will comply. You can request the respective authorities restrict these records, so employers or prospective landlords don’t get access to them. You can justifiably claim the information is not accurate by getting the records sealed at the clerk of the court’s office. Then, you can ask the company to remove it from your record and to resend the updated record to your potential employer or landlord and to you.
Protection Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination
Job candidates are not protected from discrimination on the basis of past criminal charges under federal law. However, they are protected against racial and ethnic discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has expressed concern over certain minority groups being impacted by criminal background checks very adversely. If a check reveals a criminal record, employers should refer to EEOC regulations to make sure the gravity and type of offense and the time since the conviction are taken into account.
The FCRA itself places some limitations on background reports. You can’t report accounts in collection, tax liens, and civil judgments and lawsuits if seven years have passed since. You also can’t report bankruptcies if a decade has passed.
In-House Checks: What You Need to Know
It’s becoming increasingly common for employers to conduct “in-house” checks rather than contracting a background check company. They don’t need your permission to do this. However, you are authorized to receive a copy of any public records they may be looking at, especially if they decide not to hire you on that basis.
If the employer gets information about you from your friends, family, or neighbors, they aren’t required to provide you with a copy of it.
In some states, your record cannot be released for a check without good reason. However, it stays on file.
Expunging Convictions, Arrest Records, and Felonies
You can file to expunge (obliterate) convictions, arrest records, felonies, and misdemeanors in some cases. Records of level 6 (class D) felonies and misdemeanors can only be viewed by lawyers and the police. Records of more serious crimes remain public, but if you qualify, the authorities will mark them as “expunged” clearly.
If your income is low, you might qualify for a waiver of the expungement filing fee. Get legal advice from a professional before filing because usually, you can file for expungement just once.
If you’ve been arrested, but not convicted, or you appealed, and the conviction was dropped, you might also qualify to have the record obliterated. You can also file if one year or more has passed since you won the appeal or since your arrest or if you aren’t facing any pending charges.
You can file to expunge a misdemeanor or level 6 felony conviction if there are no pending charges, you’ve paid restitution, court costs, fees, and fines as required, or it’s been at least five years since you were convicted of a crime.
You can request to have a nonviolent felony conviction eliminated from your record if there are no pending charges, you’ve paid restitution, court costs, fees, and fines as required, three years or more have passed since you completed a sentence, or eight years or more have passed since you were convicted. You can also file for expungement if you haven’t had any convictions in the last eight years.
The periods are longer for crimes related to bodily harm or such committed by elected officials. You can file if three years or more have passed since you completed a sentence, or a decade or more has passed since you were convicted.
Discriminate based on an expunged record is illegal. This can include refusal to issue a license or hire someone. An expunged record is equivalent to an absence of conviction. The authorities should also restore your right to vote along with all other civil rights.