Alabama Background Check General Requirements

In Alabama, as in most states, background checks are typically used in both public and private employers’ hiring processes, but only certain select providers are permitted to provide this information in certain contexts (please note: the website in which this article appears is specifically NOT FCRA (see below)-accredited or authorized as a credit reporting agency permissible for use to verify employment background checks, tenant consideration and other contexts). These employment verifications (which may be conducted by only select consumer reporting agencies pursuant to law) typically encompass both criminal and non-criminal background checks in the goal of confirming one’s identity for employment purposes. It also serves as a confirmation that the Social Security number provided by a prospective employee matches such other submitted information, such as the name and addresses, for example, that were also provided.

Alabama is one of twenty-nine states, in addition to the District of Columbia, that does not enforce additional restrictions beyond those imposed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (FCRA). There are no uniform fifty state-wide regulations that require and enforce additional and consistent Ban-The-Box and fair hiring laws and related requirements above and beyond FCRA or such rules mandated by the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) or other applicable federal agencies. The use of background reports in connection with hiring and related policies are therefore primarily determined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act: for example, employers must obtain written consent from each and every prospective employee prior to the background check being performed, they must keep the information confidential, and use the information only as specified by those processes outlined by FCRA. This federal law also dictates those procedures that an employer must follow if they decide not to hire an individual based on the information reported in the background screening. Because there are no additional Alabama laws dictating how employers may use criminal records in their hiring practices, applicants who have been turned down because of these records must look to the FCRA and EEOC federal laws for recourse.

A background check may be required in other instances: they are often included as part of a renter’s application process, caregiver applications, applying for a professional license, and even adopting a child, for example. These uses are also strictly circumscribed by FCRA and only certain parties using certain regulated sites are permitted to conduct such background checks in such scenarios.

In the case of certain expunged criminal arrests

Certain misdemeanors, traffic violations, or other non-violent offenses may be eligible for expungement. In the event that expungement is granted, job applicants are not required to legally answer “yes” when answering job application questions regarding arrests. Eligibility for expungement depends on the crime, its circumstances, and the conviction, if any.

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FCRA Limitations

FCRA only allows for a review and reporting of any of a candidate’s paid tax liens, civil suits, civil judgments and arrest records that occurred in the prior 7 years in the reports of its registered, accredited, compliant background check services, though non-FCRA accredited websites may theoretically contain information beyond that time span. In some states, such as in New York, California, and Kentucky, non-convictions may not be reported at all, other than pending charges. Additionally, this 7-year limitation does not apply if an applicant is expected to earn a yearly salary greater than $75,000. Additionally, the restriction does not apply to criminal convictions (not to be confused with arrest records and civil judgments and suits). Then again, making hiring decisions based on criminal convictions, even if allowed under the FCRA and your state’s guidelines, may not pass muster pursuant to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which protects the rights of job applicants, and the EEOC may view a refusal to hire someone based upon an old criminal conviction as discrimination. The EEOC would oblige prospective employers to consider the nature of the specific criminal offense as well as the amount of time that has passed to properly comply with the EEOC’s requirements. In any event, the 7-year rule applies to all states for non-criminal convictions and to an increasing sum of states for criminal convictions as well.

Alabama Background Check Specifics for Employers

The state of Alabama has its own criminal background check system through its division, the ALEA (Alabama Law Enforcement Agency). Approved, qualified employers use this system to view the criminal records and run background checks on current employees, applicants, and even volunteers. Employers who have not been qualified to use the state system may not be able to run checks and obtain another’s report through the state.

Interested individuals may only be able to obtain their own criminal background check report via the ALEA with the assistance of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information (ACJIC) system. They are, of course, always entitled to challenge any information that they believe is inaccurate or erroneous.

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