Unveiling the Hidden Truths: An Employers’ Guide to Effective Background Checks

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In the fast-paced world of business, success hinges on assembling the right team. The process of bringing a new member on board involves far more than a glance at their résumé. Background checks and employment screening can help you assemble the right team—but there are some hard and fast rules that employers must abide by.

Navigating the Legal Labyrinth

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Federally, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) lays down the initial framework for carrying out background checks for prospective hires (and current hires). But don’t let the name fool you. Despite its name, the FCRA does far more than just regulate background credit checks. It regulates even employee criminal background checks. In fact, the FCRA defines when and how an employer may engage in such a background check. While the FCRA is too nuanced to summarize here, the U.S. Government has provided a pithy summary of the FCRA here.

Local State Rules

The FCRA, however, isn’t the only background check law at play. States—such as California—have a whole set of additional laws and regulations governing background searches for current or prospective hires. One such rule governs the use of misdemeanor offenses (i.e., they can’t be used if they did not result in a conviction).  In fact, just next month, California will implement a new set of criminal background check regulations (here). Employers would do well to familiarize themselves with these rules. 

In short, employers need to be versed in the full range of employee background check laws at issue—both on the federal and state levels.


Background checks may be a critical tool to determine the “right” fit for your business. But performing them requires a familiarity with the various rules and regulations at play, which collectively form an intricate legal landscape.

For more information on employee background checks, please contact us at info@mnklawyers.com.

This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between MNK Law and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material.