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Arrest Record Federal Laws



Two Important Federal Laws For People With Arrest Records


The vast majority of employers run background checks on prospective employees that include information about arrest records. The problem with criminal background checks is that some of them may contain incomplete or inaccurate information that could hurt the chances of a person with no arrest record from getting a job.

There are two federal laws that were enacted to protect people from becoming the victim of inaccurate or erroneous information in criminal background checks and checks of arrest records. The statutes are the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act holds reporting agencies accountable

It used to be that credit reporting agencies focused exclusively on providing credit reports to banks, lenders and other parties interested in an individual's credit history. Those same agencies now provide criminal records and arrest records searches when requested by the person or organization ordering a report. An employer ordering a criminal background check must obtain the written consent of the job applicant.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act permits consumer reporting agencies to provide information about criminal convictions without any restrictions on how far back in time they can go. Different rules apply to arrest records. If an employer requests an arrest records search on a prospective employee for a position paying an annual salary of $75,000 or less, the report may not disclose arrest records older than seven years. There is no time restriction if the salary for the position is more than $75,000 annually.

Job applicants must be given a copy of any criminal background check obtained by a prospective employer. If there is inaccurate information in a report on a consumer, the person who is the subject of the report has the right to dispute it by notifying the reporting agency. Once notified of a dispute, the agency must conduct an investigation into the matter and correct information found to be incorrect.

If an agency fails to correct errors in a report, the person who is the subject of the report may file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection. Another alternative to filing a formal complaint is to start a lawsuit against the agency that prepared the erroneous report.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from discrimination in employment

An employer's hiring practices may violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if prospective employees are excluded solely on the basis of the existence of a criminal conviction. Such hiring practices could lead to charges of disparate treatment discrimination or disparate impact discrimination.

Disparate treatment discrimination occurs when an employer does not run criminal background and arrest records searches on all of its job applicants. Singling out one race or nationality for background searches is a violation of the law because it treats applicants differently based solely on race and nationality.

If an employer's policy regarding arrest records and criminal conviction searches has the effect of having a negative effect on one race more than others, this is disparate impact discrimination. The individuals affected by discriminatory treatment under the law might have the right to compensation from the employer.

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