Employment Background Checks

With the recent drop in unemployment in Pennsylvania, it is obvious that people are out there applying for and obtaining jobs.  Although the crisis is far from over, I thought this might be a good time to discuss what your potential, future employer can and cannot find out about you.  So, before you head off to that next interview, see the below list regarding the truths and myths about employment background checks:

– Criminal Records:  Your future employer is unable to access your arrest records; however, they will have access to any criminal convictions or matters which are pending trial.  In some instances, summary offenses or juvenile records can be expunged; removing them from a potential employer’s sight.  Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System is a good resource for determining what, if anything, is on your criminal record.

– Bankruptcy Filings:  Bankruptcies are a matter of public record, and can be discovered by a potential employer; however, employers are not permitted to discriminate against applicants simply because they have previously filed for bankruptcy.

– Worker’s Compensation Claims:  When an employee’s claim goes through the state system, the case becomes public record; however, an employer may only use this information if an injury might interfere with one’s ability to perform required duties.

– Social Security Number:  An employer will be able to verify your social security number.

– Educational Records:  These records are only seen if there is consent from you, the student. However, a school can release what they call “directory information” which can include your name, address, dates of attendance, degrees earned, and activities you participated in, that is unless you have given written notice not to release that information.

– Military Service Records:  The military can disclose your name, rank, salary, assignments and awards without your consent.

– Medical Records:  Employers do not have the authority to request your medical records and cannot use them when making a hiring decision.  They can however inquire if you have any physical restrictions that may inhibit you from performing a certain job.

– Work History:  Verification of dates of employment and positions held can be obtained.

– Driving Records:  Your driving records are not confidential and can be released without consent.  Specifically, driver information may be requested by employers, insurance companies or agents, attorneys representing you or for use by courts and law enforcement.  However, they are usually not included in the standard pre-employment background check unless you will be driving as part of your job.  A copy of your driving record can be obtained online through PennDOT for a $5 fee.

– Credit Reports:  Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) employers must receive written consent before seeking an employee’s or potential employee’s credit report.  However, if they run a credit check with your consent, it’s best to first check out what they may find.  Click here to obtain a free copy of your credit report today.

Now that you know what an employer can and cannot learn about you, the best way to prepare for your next job interview is to first perform your own employment background check to confirm that your information is accurate.  There are a variety of companies that will allow you to perform a complete background search for a fee; however, much of the information can be acquired by simply following the links provided in this blog or contacting the reporting institutions directly for less than what a company would charge.


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