BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides answers to your pressing HR questions.
Question: Are background checks required for new employees?
Answer: While there is no universal law that requires all employers to run background checks on new hires, certain industries have background check requirements and several states have restrictions regarding background checks. Some industries with mandatory background check requirements are sex offender registry lists for educators, credit checks for financial services, driving records in transportation and professional licenses in health care.
Background screening is best practice for all industries to reduce the risk of hiring a potentially dangerous or dishonest employee. Be sure the screening package you choose is relevant to the position and that you screen all positions equally. For example, a credit check or driving record may not be necessary for a Receptionist role and only screening minority candidates would be unlawful.
The most common pre-employment check employers will run is criminal history. Certain states have “ban-the-box” laws restricting employers’ use of criminal records in the employment process. New Jersey’s “Opportunity to Compete Act” prohibits employers, with 15 or more employees, from making any inquiries, written or oral, regarding an applicant’s criminal record during the initial employment application process. Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating when using criminal history to make employment decisions.
Drug screening is generally allowed by private employers in New Jersey to test job applicants or current employees for drugs, alcohol and other controlled substances. However with respect to medical marijuana, the current and proposed New Jersey laws will pose conflicting challenges between employer drug-free workplace policies and employee protections under discrimination laws.
When ordering a background check report, New Jersey employers must first obtain an applicant’s written consent and before rejecting an applicant based on the contents of the report, employers must provide an adverse action notice, copy of the report and Fair Credit Reporting Act rights.
Take a More Balanced Approach to HR with BPHR
To ensure the safety of your workplace, it’s imperative that you hire moral employees. Background checks help you do just that and BPHR can help make sure they are performed in accordance with the law. By eliminating the concern, you can focus on grooming your employees for success within your organization.
Have a question for Lisa? Email her directly.
DISCLAIMER: The material presented on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion