What Cant You Find Out?: Some Personal Information Is Protected by Law

Posted by Kristina Taylor
August 24, 2011

What Cant You Find Out?: Some Personal Information Is Protected by Law

Employers use a variety of means during a background check to find out more about a potential hire. Criminal records, sex offender registries, credit reports, driving records and motor vehicle registrations, Social Security numbers, past employers, and even fingerprints are sometimes used to dig into a person’s background for information pertinent to the job for which the person has applied.

There are, however, several things pertaining to the pre-employment screening that an employer is not allowed to do. According to the Small Business Administration, the following rules apply to pre-employment screening:

• Lie detector tests: Lie detector tests are unlawful in the pre-employment screening process, according to the Employee Polygraph Protection. Exceptions to this rule include armored car services and pharmaceutical businesses.

• School records: School records and transcripts are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and are to be kept confidential.

• Medical records: Employers can’t request a job applicant’s medical records, and some state laws protect the confidentiality of medical records. Employers are within their rights to ask about an applicant’s ability to perform the duties of the job, but if the disabled person can do all tasks, then the disability must not factor into an employer’s decisions when hiring or promoting.

• Bankruptcies: Bankruptcies may show up on a candidate’s credit report, but the Federal Bankruptcy Act prohibits employers from discriminating against a potential hire or an employee due to a bankruptcy filing.

• Military records: The military may choose to disclose limited information without the candidate’s consent, including name, rank, salary, duty assignments or status, and awards. Consent is likely to be required for other types of information.

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