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Can my employer conduct a background check on me?

There have long been issues surrounding to what extent employers and potential employers should be able to look into the background of their employees. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) puts forward many protections in this regard, preventing employers from conducting background checks without certain conditions from being present.

However, certain amendments to the FCRA have meant that employers can more easily conduct background checks when they have specific reasons to do so. Therefore, as an employee it is important to know what your rights are.

Before any adverse action against an employee, the employer must provide him or her with information of FCRA employee rights. The FCRA has in the past been quite limiting for employers, because it makes it very difficult to make investigations in regard to employee misconduct. However, in December 2000, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act was put into affect. This law was put into place for the benefit of employers, enabling them to be able to investigate employee misconduct through background checks.

However, there are still some restrictions for employers. While employers do not need to gain an employee's consent when they are investigating employee misconduct, they do need to explain the reasons for why a certain adverse action was taken as a result of a background check. This explanation must be provided in a formal written summary.

If you have been subject to adverse action as an employee who was subject to a background check, it is important to note that there are many protections in place for you, and it is possible that your employer acted unlawfully.

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