Background checks are commonplace in most industries. In fact, according to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 92 percent of employers run some form of background check on job applicants. In Texas, both state and federal laws set limits on the popular pre-employment screening tool. Some regulations govern the information an employer may access while others control how that information may be used.
Criminal Background Checks
A 2012 SHRM survey found 86 percent of employers run criminal background checks on applicants. While two to three years is quite common, under Texas Business and Commerce Code, Texas background checks may go back seven years. There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule. If the annual salary for the position in question is larger than $75,000, a search may go back to the year the applicant turned 18. If the applicant is applying for a job in insurance or with a state or local government agency, the same exception applies. Additionally, if the job involves in-home service or delivery, the Texas background check must include a search for felonies going back 20 years and a search for misdemeanors going back 10 years. This rule is waived for the employer if the applicant is licensed by a state occupational licensing agency that has already performed a background check.
In the event that pre-employment screening turns up arrests and convictions, Texas employers should follow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines. Failure to do so carries the risk of a discrimination lawsuit, something no company wants to deal with. To avoid this potential, the EEOC recommends employers consider the nature of the applicant’s offense, the time since the offence, and whether the offence has any bearing on the position for which the applicant has applied. Many employers choose to disregard arrests and focus only on convictions, guilty pleas and pleas of no contest when running Texas background checks.
Credit Background Checks
The 2012 SHRM survey found 47 percent of employers run credit background checks on applicants. Employers must follow the rules established by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when conducting Texas background checks. FCRA requirements include providing the applicant with a written notice explaining what information will be included in the background check, obtaining written authorization to conduct the background check, and following proper pre and post-adverse action procedures. Unlike California and many other states, the Texas state government has not set additional rules governing the use of credit reports in pre-employment screening.