To determine what personnel decisions , such as hiring, promotion, suspension, or reassignment ,  are best for a company or business, employers can opt to do a background check.

The background check for employment is the legal way to ensure employees are suitable for the job. However, employers are not legally allowed to use the information obtained from a background check to deny equal employment opportunities.

In this article, we will elaborate further on what is a background check and what you can expect from it.

What Information Is Included in Background Checks?

In general, background checks may look into information like:

  • Criminal Records
  • Social security number trace
  • List of known names and addresses
  • National sex offender registry search
  • Employment and education verification
  • Drug screening
  • Motor vehicle records

Making Use of Background Check Information

Before doing a background check, both employers and applicants/employees should be aware of the institutions that ensure the rights of employees are not being violated, such as The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

A background check consists of how an employee’s personal information is solicited, used, and disposed by the employer.

Soliciting Background Information 

To solicit background information through a background check company, employers should consider the following FCRA requirements:

  • Give formal notice  in writing and stand-alone format   to the applicant or employee that their information only will be used for making employment decisions.
  • For investigative reports   in which information regarding the lifestyle, conduct, or reputation of a person is collected through personal interviews ,  employers must previously provide formal notice of the nature of the investigation to the employees or applicants.
  • Employers must get written permission from the employees or applicants to do the background check.

Using Background Information

To use background information, employers must follow the requirements of the FTC and EEOC.


Employers must treat every employee or applicant equally. This includes avoiding making employment decisions based on race, gender, religion, disability, genetic information, color, or nationality.


According to the FTC regulations, if the employer takes adverse employment action , for example, not hiring, firing, or suspending the employee ,  they should take the following considerations:

  • The employer must notify the employee that the decision was made based on the information of the report. Also, employers need to provide employees with a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” This should be done before taking any action, so the employees have an opportunity to explain themselves.
  • The employer must provide the employee the contact information of the background check company that did the report.
  • The employer must inform the employee that if the report is inaccurate, the employee has a right to present a dispute to receive a free report.

Disposing of Background Information


  • Employers must keep employment records for one year after either the record was made or after an employment decision was made (choosing the one that happens later).
  • Employers can keep records for two years in the case of educational institutions, state and local governments, or federal contractors that have 150 employees or more and a $150,000 government contract.
  • If facing charges of discrimination, employers should keep the records until the case concludes.


Employers are legally obligated to dispose of the reports in a way that guarantees that the information can no longer be read or reconstructed, such as:

  • Burning
  • Pulverizing
  • Shredding paper
  • Eliminating electronic information

Soteria Drug Screening has come together with National Crime Search (NCS) to provide accurate and reliable background checks to employers. For further information about our customizable and affordable plans, please reach out to us!


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