Employment Background Checks: FTC, EEOC Offer Tips for Employers and Job Applicants

Tips for Consumers

Hiring decisions are among the most important choices for any employer, but the process can be complex. For the first time, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have co-published two short guides on employment background checks that explain the rights and responsibilities of the people on both sides of the desk.

The FTC and the EEOC want employers to know that they need written permission from job applicants before getting background reports about them from a company in the business of compiling background information. Employers also should know that it’s illegal to discriminate based on a person’s race, national origin, sex, religion, disability, or age (40 or older) when requesting or using background information for employment.

At the same time, the agencies want job applicants to know that it’s not illegal for potential employers to ask someone about their background as long as the employer does not unlawfully discriminate. Job applicants also should know that if they’ve been turned down for a job or denied a promotion based on information in a background report, they have a right to review the report for accuracy.

 “The FTC is pleased to work with the EEOC to help ensure that employers and potential employees have a solid understanding of their rights and responsibilities,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The FTC enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the law that protects the privacy and accuracy of the information in credit reports. The EEOC enforces laws against employment discrimination.

Find more tips in the brochures, Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know and Background Checks: What Job Applicants and Employees Should Know.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Frank Dorman
FTC Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2674

Kimberly Smith-Brown
EEOC Office of Public Affairs
202.663.4950