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Background Checks: Definition & Laws Video

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  • 0:00 Background Checks
  • 0:58 Criminal Records &…
  • 2:22 Background Check Laws
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Vericia Miller
In this lesson, you will learn all about background checks, specifically as they relate to employment. You'll also learn more about laws designed to protect prospective employees against unfair treatment during the hiring process.

Background Checks

So you have a drug charge on your record. You're nervous about not getting a job that you're applying for. You walk into the office, take your seat, and began filling out the application. You near the end of the application and there it is, the question that you were dreading the most: ''Have you been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor''? Now you're wondering, what should I do? Should I be honest and risk not getting the job, or should I lie and hope they don't run a background check? A background check is a thorough examination of work history, education, criminal record, driving record, and sometimes credit report. The answer is, be honest and hope for the best. Here's the thing; no one will get past an employee background check. Background checks are easy to run and personal information these days is easy to get.

When an employer runs a background check it is to determine if you are a responsible and trustworthy candidate, someone they can trust with personal property, other people, money, valuable items, confidential data, or other important materials or information.

Criminal Records & Background Checks

A criminal background check is an examination of criminal record history, if in fact you have one. Can a person with a criminal record get a job? Absolutely, but it may be more difficult because the stigma attached to having a criminal record is not one many employers are willing to overlook. A candidate's chances depend on the type of crime committed, and whether they were arrested or convicted of a crime. According to federal law, arrests that are seven years or older should not be used in the background consumer report, unless you are applying for a job where the salary exceeds $75,000 annually. However, felony convictions will remain on your record and employers can gain access to that information.

Employers may also inquire about expunged or sealed records if candidates would be working with vulnerable populations like children or the elderly, or in a medical field. Most states have their own laws governing background checks. Employers are more likely to overlook some misdemeanors. They are mainly looking for violent crimes when checking criminal records. However, any criminal record at all can pose concerns for employers.

Because criminal background checks are public record, any company can conduct a background check and easily access this information. Most companies will obtain consent in advance, although they are allowed to access public records without doing so. If the employer is hiring an outside company to run the background check, they must obtain written consent by law. If your background check reveals incriminating information, employers are legally required to provide a copy of the report. This allows you to check the report for yourself and see if there are any errors.

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