New Best Practices Guide: Background Checks


In the hiring process, an employer typically seeks a candidate who is the best "fit" for a position, evaluating a candidate's skills, abilities and personal characteristics in light of the job requirements. Employers often try to confirm the veracity of the information contained in the candidate's application materials and learned through the interview process. Beyond an assessment of a potential employee's qualifications and truthfulness, an employer should also attempt to insure that the candidate does not pose a risk to other employees or to third parties. The challenge for the employer in addressing these important hiring goals is to make sure that the background check process does not unfairly discriminate against any applicant or otherwise breach the law.


Although employers are generally permitted to conduct some form of a background check on any potential employee, independent contractor, or volunteer, background checks are subject to a wide-ranging set of federal, state, and local laws and regulations. This publication addresses some of the key legal considerations governing the use of employee background checks, including federal and state consumer credit reporting laws, anti-discrimination statutes, employment laws, and state and local "ban the box" laws.