Answer

What shows up on a background screen?

Background screenings can vary depending on certain positions, industry standards, and state laws. Background products can include,

•    Criminal History Checks (Federal, State, and County)

•    Civil Searches (Federal and County)

•    SSN Validity Checks

•    Employment Verifications

•    Education Verifications

•    I-9 and E-Verify

•    State Driving Records

•    Professional Licenses and Credentials

•    Credit Reports

•    Adverse Action Notices

•    Personal Reference Verifications

•    Government Sanctions Lists

•    Sex Offender Searches

•    DOT Testing History

•    Criminal Investigative Services

With the legalization of marijuana across many states, cities such as San Francisco have implemented conviction expunging policies (Proposition 64) which remove misdemeanors and non-violent charges related to marijuana. Policies like these aim to get previous convictions reduced or reclassified to lesser offenses, with some convictions being dismissed altogether. This means that charges that are expunged will not appear on background checks. Employers need to implement a comprehensive background check process that will navigate individual state and city regulations. When employers use cheaper instant background checks, information can be incorrect or outdated, which could lead to potential lawsuits or liability in the workplace.

In addition, employers should consider services, such as social security number validity, criminal history for federal, county, and state, employment verification, etc., to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Depending on the scope of the search allowable by law or requested by an employer, records of convictions of a felony or misdemeanor are usually reported on a background check. Non-convictions may be reported in some cases depending on the date of the charge or whether a case has been dismissed. Federal and state law will determine how far back criminal records can be reported.

A felony is typically defined as a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than one year or by the death penalty. Felonies may include crimes such as arson, assault, battery, fraud, homicide, kidnapping, rape, robbery, sex crimes, and terrorism.

Misdemeanors are often less serious crimes and are generally punishable by less than 12 months in jail. Community service, probation, fines, and imprisonment for less than a year are commonly issued punishments for misdemeanors. Obviously, each state may vary as to what is classified as a misdemeanor or felony.

A growing trend with the employment screening industry is the use of commercially compiled databases, also known as instant background checks or “national criminal database searches.” These types of checks are quicker and cheaper but lack accuracy and credibility and put employers at a greater risk of fines and lawsuits from the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).