What Do New Employee Background Checks Entail in California?
California has had restrictions on employer background checks for some time, though a ruling by the California Court of Appeals in summer 2021 could complicate employee background checks even further. Every employer should be completely up to date on what new employee background checks entail in CA. If you have specific questions, reach out to our Encino employment law attorneys directly for a discussion.
When someone needs to conduct a background check, they often use information such as a driver’s license number or birthdate to make sure they find the records of the right individual. In the recent case of All of Us or None v. Hamrick, the Court of Appeals ruled that state courts should remove driver’s license numbers and birthdates as identifying information for the criminal index, which is accessed in public background checks.
While this ruling involves the California Rules of Court instead of employment laws directly, the ruling certainly changes background checks for state employers. Previously, while state courts did not give out this type of information, it allowed searches based on birthdates or license numbers to match with the system’s files. When employers search for someone’s criminal history, they often use identifying information along with the name to know whether they have accurate records for the intended individual.
The Court of Appeals ruled that even allowing searches based on the driver’s license number or birthdate violated the California Rules of Court, and this should not be permitted in the future.
Effect on Employer Background Checks
This ruling makes it difficult for employers to properly narrow down a background search to ensure they have reliable information. Especially if someone has a common name, a records search without further identifiers can bring back hundreds of results, if not more. Employers should be prepared to adjust to this new process if they regularly conduct background searches.
Employers should also stay aware of background check rules in general in California. State law has some of the most restrictive background check rules in the U.S. California employers must:
- Only conduct a background check after a conditional offer of employment
- Only consider convictions from the past seven years with a direct and adverse relationship with the specific job
- Conduct an individualized assessment of how the conviction would affect the job
- Inform the applicant why they denied employment if it was based on a conviction
- Allow the applicant to respond to the notice of denied employment
Now that employers might find incorrect records, they should be prepared to go through the notice and response process more frequently in the event they deny employment based on an inaccurate background check.
Learn More from an Encino Employment Law Attorney
As background checks get more complicated, employers should remain particularly vigilant about compliance with the law. The attorneys at Kaufman McAndrew LLP can provide guidance to help avoid any disputes regarding background checks. Please contact our office for more information about our services today.