When Can an Employer Require a Background Search?

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When you are applying for a job, an employer may require that you submit to a background check before they extend a job offer to you. Importantly, you must understand your rights in this process. Read on to discover when an employer can require a background search and how a seasoned New York employee rights lawyer at Bell Law Group can help determine the legality of this.

Under what circumstances can an employer require a background search?

Notably, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforce federal laws that regulate background searches for employment, all while preventing employment discrimination in these searches.

Generally speaking, an employer is allowed to require a search on any of the following aspects of an applicant’s background:

  • An applicant’s education history.
  • An applicant’s employment history.
  • An applicant’s financial history.
  • An applicant’s medical history.
  • An applicant’s criminal record, if any.
  • An applicant’s use of online social media.

It is important to note that an employer typically cannot ask for information regarding your medical history until they offer you a job. With this, they cannot ask for information regarding your genetic and your family’s medical history except in very limited circumstances. With that being said, you must be prepared to explain why and how your medical condition will not affect your ability to perform the job you applied for.

What is an employer not allowed to do in a background check?

Sometimes, it is okay for an employer to ask for information regarding your race, national origin, color, sex, religion, age, or disability. Though, it is not okay for an employer to ask you for extra background information solely based on these protected classes. What’s more, an employer cannot have different background requirements that are dependent on these protected classes. For example, it is illegal for an employer to reject an applicant of one race with a criminal record but hire an applicant of another race with the same criminal record.

More specifically, an employer is not allowed to hold a policy that excludes applicants with certain criminal records if this policy significantly disadvantages individuals of a certain protected class. This is because doing so has a disparate impact and is not job-related or consistent with the business necessity.

So, if you believe that an employer conducted an illegal background check on you, then you must contact the FTC immediately. And if you believe that an employer discriminated against you based on your background information, then you must contact the EEOC immediately. In either event, we recommend that you retain the services of a competent New York discrimination lawyer. We will fight for what is right, so do not hesitate in giving us a call today.

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