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By Louise Herman

When you find a job that seems like a perfect match for your skills, you may be eager to apply. However, it may state in the job posting or during the interview process that you must submit a background check before you can accept the position. Though it may seem strange to request this information, it’s essential to understand your rights during this process. Keep reading to learn more about employer-required background checks and discover how a Providence County, Rhode Island employment lawyer can help you with any concerns or issues surrounding this matter.

Under What Circumstances Is This Permitted?

The Federal Trade Commission permits all employers in all states to conduct a background check of an employee. However, there are restrictions in which certain states only allow this to be done after an employer has extended an offer, while other states are only allowed to access limited information, and some states can see the full extent of the information offered in these reports.

Generally, background checks are permitted to inquire about an applicant’s history because they have a duty to ensure that they are providing a safe workplace. This means if they hire a convicted, violent criminal, and this employee hurts someone, they may be held liable because they did not provide a safe work environment by failing to run a background check.

What Is Included in a Background Check?

When selecting job applications, an employer is allowed to conduct searches of the following aspect of an applicant’s history:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Financial
  • Criminal
  • Social media

It is crucial to understand that your employer needs to ask for consent to conduct a background search by a third party. You do not have to agree to this, but you should beware that the offer may be rescinded if you do not consent. If the employer does not get your consent and runs a search regardless, you should report this to the FTC, as this is unlawful.

It’s also essential to understand that, though it is in poor practice, it is not always illegal for an employer to inquire about your background as a member of a protected class (race, gender, ethnicity, disability, national origin, or age). However, they cannot ask you for extra details regarding this information or treat you differently from other candidates after learning this information. This means if you are treated differently because of any of the aforementioned characteristics, you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options.

If you’ve experienced any issues surrounding a background check from an employer, you’ll want to contact our firm as soon as possible. Our dedicated legal team can help answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding this process. Reach out today to set up a free consultation.

About the Author
At Herman Law Group, our focus is on safeguarding the rights and careers of employees and businesses alike. With over 35 years of successful legal practice, Louise A. Herman brings an invaluable dual perspective from representing both employees and employers. This unique insight allows us to effectively achieve successful outcomes for our clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and nationwide.