Pre-employment background checks
Photo of Attorneys T. Noel Brooks and Jesse Baez walking outside.
Photo of T. Noel Brooks and Jesse Baez

Pre-employment background checks

On Behalf of | May 3, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Many businesses in Virginia and around the country ask prospective employees to sign paperwork that gives them permission to conduct background checks. The companies that perform these checks verify academic credentials and employment histories, obtain credit reports and access criminal records, and the information they uncover often determines whether or not an applicant is hired. However, employers and the companies they hire to handle pre-employment screening must comply with strict federal and state laws when they conduct background checks.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed to ensure that credit files are accurate, fair and secure, and the 1970 law also establishes rules for employers that wish to conduct background checks on job applicants. Employers must inform applicants that checks will be performed, and applicants must provide written authorization before any inquiries are made. If the information uncovered during a background check leads to an adverse decision, the applicant must be informed and provided with a copy of their background check. The applicant must then be given a reasonable amount of time to dispute and correct any errors.

Virginia background check laws

Virginia law prohibits employers from asking for certain information when they conduct background checks. Public employers are not permitted to ask about arrests or criminal convictions, and public and private employers cannot ask about arrests or convictions for marijuana possession. When Virginia residents are charged with possessing marijuana, their criminal defense attorneys should inform them about this law. Employers in Virginia can view public social media profiles, but they cannot ask job applicants for their social media login credentials.

Strict rules

Background checks help employers to make prudent hiring decisions, but strict rules must be followed when they are conducted. Job applicants must be notified before background checks are run, and they must be given the reasons when employment is denied.