I’ve been applying for jobs recently and a lot of employers want to conduct a background check. I’m curious what they will find. How can I conduct my own background check and what should I look for?
It is true that more employers conduct background checks today than in years past, according to attorney Joe Veenstra.
“A lot of employers do background checks now, especially in large corporations. They put a lot of money into hiring and training. They want to know the person is reliable,” he said.
Some do so to avoid future liability. A trucking business, for example, could be found negligent if it hired a driver with multiple citations for drunken driving and he or she later got into an accident with the company truck while intoxicated.
In some industries, such as childcare, home health care and others, the law requires background examinations. While ordinarily only adult criminal records are checked, juvenile records are opened for prospective childcare workers.
What can employers do with this information? “Employers cannot discriminate on the basis of conviction records unless the conviction substantially relates to that particular job,” Veenstra said.
Not hiring someone as a cashier who had recent convictions for bad checks likely would be reasonable. A conviction for battery on the other hand probably would not be related to a line position in a recycling plant and therefore a refusal to hire based on the conviction might be considered discriminatory.
Employers also may conduct credit checks on prospective staff members, and they often look at social media like Facebook to see what they have posted.
“It is a good idea to perform your own background check before you send out your résumé to check to see if there are any problems or errors,” said Veenstra. “If you find problems, take the time to clean them up if you can.”
Where do you go?
- Check adult court records at http://wcca.wicourts.gov/index.xsl.
- Check the Federal Trade Commission for credit reports at http://ftc.gov/freereports.
- Check the Wisconsin Department of Justice, https://recordcheck.doj.wi.gov/; fees are charged. You do not have access to juvenile records.
- Review what you have posted on social media and remove embarrassing materials.
For more information on background checks and civil rights laws in Wisconsin, contact Joe Veenstra at 608-784-5678.