Can Employers Refuse to Hire You After a Background Check?
You’ve found the perfect employment opportunity; the pay is great, hours are fantastic, and it’s in an industry you love. You manage to get through the interview process effortlessly, and you’re feeling excited. Then the employer drops the words that make your heart sink, “background check.” Although you’re not a hardened criminal, your past isn’t exactly perfect either. You’ve used a service like CheckPeople to pull your report, and it’s not terrible, but there’s a few things in a background check that worry you.
Which makes you wonder, can an employer refuse to hire you just because of a few blemishes on your record?
Simply put, yes. An employer performing a background check can use various records when making hiring decisions. If an employer can show a business necessity in the hiring decision, most states won’t intervene in the hiring process at all.
What Defines Business Necessity?
Discriminating against an employee based on race, gender, disability, or sex is against the law. It’s also against the law to discriminate against an employee because of a background check (or any profiling that goes along with that record). For an employer to refuse an applicant, they must show that the decision was based on the requirements of the business.
For example, if an employer runs a delivery company, and an applicant has multiple infractions for driving under the influence, the company can claim business necessity for refusing the applicant. Hiring a driver with repeated driving offenses would be a high-risk decision. Likewise, if a daycare has an applicant on their file that has registered with the National Sex Offender list, a business could claim business necessity in refusing the application as well.
What about unrelated offenses?
Background checks are reviewed with the position and company. If an applicant is applying for a cashier position but has a few speeding tickets, it would not be grounds for refusing to hire you. Certain criminal offenses are similar. Having a criminal record does not necessarily mean they will refuse you, but if your past shows prevalence to your future performance on the job, you may be disqualified.
Employers will typically look at the arrests and convictions equally (as convictions have more risk application in business) during the hiring process. If you’re not sure of their disqualifying conditions for the position, it never hurts to ask them upfront.
Can I refuse a background check?
For any employer to conduct a background check, whether a comprehensive report or specific requirements (like criminal records), the employee must give written consent. As an applicant, you have the right to ask questions about the check, whether it’s optional to agree or refuse altogether. Before refusing, ask any questions you have relating to the information pulled.
If you’re worried about something in your report history, feel free to discuss this first-hand before signing the consent.
This creates an attitude of transparency and honesty instead of creating suspicion by simply refusing to sign. It also gives you the chance to explain your side of the situation, which is important if the incident was isolated and under specific conditions. Although it may not secure you a position within the company, sometimes an employer is willing to take these details into account when reviewing your file.
If the policy is mandated for all new hires, you’ll likely be removed from the recruiting process. This means you must be willing to walk away from the job if you’re not willing to have a check done. Many employers use these reports for assessing the risk and safety of staff and customers; having someone without a check could put them in serious jeopardy.
Always Check Your Report Before Applying If You’re Worried
One of the easiest ways to calm your nerves when applying for a new job is to have a solid understanding of what’s on the report. Ordering your file can help you see exactly what employers are evaluating ahead of time, so you won’t be blindsided during the interview.