What Information Can and Cannot Be Included In An Employment Background Report?

Employers routinely conduct background checks on employees and job applicants.  The reasons for doing so vary greatly, including screening applicants’ credentials, checking criminal history information, and complying with screening requirements for certain jobs.  For example, many states require background checks for individuals who work with children, the elderly, or the disabled.

What information typically is included in an employment background report?  There is no set of required information in a background report. Usually however, most employment background reports include some of the following information:

  • Criminal records
  • Driving records
  • Education records
  • Social Security verification
  • Past employers
  • Sex offender lists
  • Character references
  • Civil court records
  • Credit checks

While there is a wide array of information that can be included in an employment background report, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) places limits on this information. The following information CANNOT be included in an employment background report:

  • Non-conviction criminal records older than seven years (e.g. records of arrest)
  • Civil suits older than seven years
  • Civil judgments older than seven years
  • Paid tax liens older than seven years
  • Collection accounts older than seven years
  • Any other negative information (other than criminal convictions) older than seven years
  • Bankruptcies older than 10 years.

Additionally, the FCRA prohibits other types of errors in employment background reports, including:

  • Mixing people’s records (for example, mismatching a person with a different person’s criminal records)
  • Reporting sealed or expunged records
  • Omitting critical information (for example, omitting that a person was found not innocent or that a criminal charge was dismissed)
  • Reporting misleading information (for example, listing a single criminal charge multiple times)
  • Misclassifying offenses (for example, misreporting a misdemeanor as a felony)

If you believe there is inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading information about you in an employment background report, the attorneys at Weiner & Sand LLC can help. We have a national practice litigating FCRA employment background report cases, and we are happy to speak with you.