Alabama employers that need to hire should consider conducting background checks on all prospective employees. Employment background checks in Alabama allow employers to vet job candidates and make better decisions about hiring.
Some applicants embellish their resumes and claim to have experience or qualifications they do not have. Background checks in Alabama provide a way for employers to verify the claims applicants have made on their applications and resumes.
Did you know that 93% of people surveyed reported they knew someone who had lied on a resume?
When done correctly, Alabama background checks can help employers to screen out dishonest and unqualified applicants. However, employment background checks in Alabama must be conducted in a way that complies with all relevant laws to prevent exposure to liability.
Because of our experience conducting background checks for employers in Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, and more, we have written this guide for employers to use as a resource when they conduct background checks in Alabama.
Read on below.
Why Do Alabama Employers Conduct Background Checks?
Background checks for employment are conducted by Alabama employers for several reasons. The four most common ones are discussed below.
1. Routine Pre-Employment Screens for Entry-level Jobs
Many Alabama employers view pre-employment background checks as a regular component of making hiring decisions.
Conducting pre-employment background checks in Alabama on entry-level applicants allows employers to verify the claims their candidates have made and screen out any who have disqualifying convictions or who have been dishonest.
2. In-Depth Checks on Applicants for Supervisory Positions
Supervisors are typically granted access to their companies’ trade secrets while also having a greater degree of responsibility than other workers. Because of these factors, employers normally perform background checks on applicants for supervisory positions that are more robust than the screenings they perform for entry-level positions.
3. Employment Checks at Regular Intervals
Some employers either choose or are required to conduct ongoing background checks at regular intervals on existing employees. Ongoing background checks are required in the trucking industry and others by regulations.
4. Extensive Background Screens for Applicants in the Caring Professions
Companies, charities, and non-profits that provide services to vulnerable people, including the elderly, disabled, and children, are required to conduct thorough pre-employment background checks on job applicants and volunteers.
Companies that provide services to vulnerable populations must perform robust background checks to protect their patients and clients. These types of background checks are much more comprehensive than the types of checks other employers perform.
Alabama Background Check Laws 2021
Background checks in Alabama must be conducted in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations.
Below, you will find an overview of the applicable federal and state laws.
Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was enacted in 1970 and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This law is designed to protect the privacy and accuracy of information gathered by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) and disclosed to others, including companies that conduct employment background checks.
Employers also have requirements they must follow under the FCRA. Before employers in Alabama can conduct pre-employment screens on applicants, they must first give written notice of their intent to conduct them and secure written authorization from the applicants to perform them.
The FCRA also covers what employers are required to do if they decide to make adverse hiring decisions based on information revealed in background checks. Performing FCRA-compliant background checks is critical for avoiding fines, penalties, and potential lawsuits from applicants.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 plays a central role in the government’s push against discrimination based on the protected characteristics of individuals. Title VII is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and prohibits employment discrimination based on the protected statuses of applicants and employees.
Under this law, the EEOC has provided guidance to employers about how they should treat criminal history information revealed on pre-employment background checks.
Alabama State Laws on Employment Background Checks
Ban-the Box Law for the City of Birmingham
In 2016, former Birmingham mayor Raymond Bell signed a ban-the-box executive order for the City of Birmingham.
This law only applies to public sector employers within the City of Birmingham and prohibits them from asking about criminal history information on their applications.
Alabama Redeemer Act
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the Alabama Redeemer Act into law on April 23, 2021. This law became effective on July 1, 2021, and changed the expungement process in the state. People who have certain misdemeanor or felony convictions on their records can now petition the court to have their records expunged.
Expunged records may not be used for employment decisions and cannot be reported by CRAs. Applicants who have received expungements can legally deny the existence of their conviction.
What Shows up on a Background Check in Alabama?
What you might see on an employment background check will depend on the types of information you request.
Most employers in Alabama request criminal background checks, employment verification, and education verification. Employers that hire employees to drive as a part of their job duties also request motor vehicle records, and most Alabama companies also ask for pre-employment drug tests.
A typical pre-employment background check in Alabama will report the following information:
- Non-expunged felony or misdemeanor convictions
- Pending criminal matters
- Arrests resulting in convictions
- Listing on the sex offender registry
- Education history
- Employment history
- Address history
- Appearance on the Domestic Terrorist Watch List
We’ll take a look at what you might see on a few of these types of reports below.
Criminal History Reports
When an applicant has a non-expunged criminal record, the following information will appear for each offense:
- Date of offense
- Offense type
- Offense severity level (felony or misdemeanor)
- Date of disposition
Under Alabama law, expunged convictions and arrests will not be reported.
Employers that request education verification can see the following information about their candidates’ educational history:
- Name/location of all schools attended
- Dates of attendance at each educational institution
- Diplomas, degrees, or certificates earned
Education verification allows employers to verify the educational institutions an applicant has attended, any claimed degrees, and whether he or she is qualified for the position.
Alabama employers that request employment verification can confirm the claims applicants have made about their experience and past employment. On this type of report, you will see the following information:
- Names and addresses of all past employers
- Dates of employment at each former job
- Positions and titles held at each previous company
How Far Back Does an Employment Background Check go in Alabama?
Under the FCRA, there is a seven-year restriction on the length of time a background check for employment can go for positions that pay under $75,000 per year. The following information will not be reported when it is more than seven years old:
- Arrests that did not lead to convictions
- Civil lawsuits
- Civil judgments
The salary cap exception means that these types of information can be reported for positions paying $75,000 or more per year.
The FCRA’s lookback period also does not apply to criminal convictions. Non-expunged criminal convictions in Alabama can be reported no matter how old they are.
Other types of crucial background information about an applicant’s past employment or education also are not restricted by the FCRA regardless of age.
Where Can I Get a Background Check in Alabama?
Employers in Alabama can get criminal background checks on applicants by subscribing to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Alabama Background Check System.
Employers that provide services to vulnerable adults and children can request criminal background checks through the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
However, state background checks will not return information about convictions in other jurisdictions or an applicant’s employment history and educational qualifications.
If you look online, you might see online vendors promising to conduct free background checks in Alabama. You should not rely on these types of providers because they might not comply with the FCRA and often return outdated and inaccurate information.
Relying on information obtained in this way can expose your company to lawsuits from applicants.
It is a better idea to work with a reputable and reliable employment background check company like iprospectcheck. We always comply with the FCRA and return accurate, current, and comprehensive reports to our clients.
As an Alabama Employer, How Can I Stay Compliant?
Alabama employers that conduct background checks must make sure to follow all applicable laws governing the process.
The potential penalties for violating the FCRA are severe and can include thousands of dollars in fines per violation, attorneys’ fees, and court costs. Depending on the facts and circumstances, punitive damages can also be ordered.
The following tips can help you to make sure your company complies with the laws governing employment background checks.
1. Individually Assess Criminal Records
For applicants with past criminal records, you must individually assess their convictions as they directly relate to the positions for which they have applied. Denying an applicant based on an individual’s conviction can be justified if it directly and adversely relates to the position and its required duties.
2. Send a Pre-Adverse Job Action Notice
Under the FCRA, you are required to send a pre-adverse action notice to an applicant when you intend not to hire him or her based on information on a criminal background check. The notice must include the disqualifying conviction, a copy of the report, and a notice of the deadline for the applicant to clarify the information.
3. Send a Final Adverse Action Notice
If you ultimately decide to turn down an application because of criminal history information, you are required to send a final adverse action notice to the applicant of the decision not to hire him or her.
This notice must include the applicant’s rights under the FCRA to challenge the decision, ask for reconsideration, and to obtain a copy of his or her background report from the CRA within 60 days.
It must also provide the name and contact information of the CRA and a statement that the background check provider did not make the adverse hiring decision.
What Causes You to Fail a Background Check in Alabama?
Multiple things can cause an applicant to be turned down for a job based on the results of a pre-employment background check.
Some of the reasons why employers might reject applicants include convictions that directly and adversely relate to their jobs, lies about past employment, lies about degrees conferred or institutions attended, a poor driving record, or failed drug screens.
These issues are explained below.
Criminal Convictions Directly Related to the Job
While millions of Americans have criminal records, that does not necessarily mean that they will be denied employment.
However, if an applicant has a past conviction that directly and adversely relates to the position for which he or she has applied, an employer will be justified in denying employment.
Some industries also have regulations that prohibit hiring people with certain types of convictions.
Lies About Past Employment
Some people lie on applications and resumes to try to hide gaps in employment or to claim they have held positions with greater responsibility than what they actually had.
Employers that ask for employment verification can see whether an applicant has lied and will likely reject those who have.
Lies About Education
Applicants also sometimes lie about the educational institutions they have attended or about graduating and earning diplomas or degrees.
However, employers that request education verification can easily see whether an applicant has been honest about his or her education and will reject people who have lied.
Poor Driving Record
People who apply to work as professional drivers or who will be given company cars will likely have their driving records checked. People who have too many traffic violations on their records will likely be rejected because of potential liability and insurance issues.
Failed Pre-Employment Drug Screens
Many employers in Alabama make job offers conditioned on pre-employment drug screens. If an applicant fails a drug test, an employer will likely reject him or her.
How Much Does a Background Check Cost in Alabama?
A criminal background check requested from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency costs $25 per report. Ordering a criminal background check from the Alabama Department of Human Resources costs $48.85 per report.
However, these types of background checks will be limited to Alabama convictions and arrests and will not return information about convictions in other states or an applicant’s past employment and education.
A better approach is to work with a third-party background check provider like iprospectcheck. We leverage access to reliable databases and cutting-edge research methods to quickly return reliable, legally compliant, and accurate background check reports at an affordable price.
We offer a broad menu of different background check reports for employers in Alabama. You can also take advantage of our volume discounts if you will need to order 50 or more reports in a year. For a no-obligation, free quote, call us today.
How Long Does a Background Check Take in Alabama?
Most employers need to make fast hiring decisions and cannot afford to wait for a long time for a background check to come back. The length of time a background check might take will depend on how it is conducted.
Employers that attempt to conduct background checks themselves through a do-it-yourself approach often find that the process can take weeks.
If you work with iprospectcheck, you can receive your background check reports quickly so that you can make fast and informed hiring decisions. We can return comprehensive employment background checks to Alabama employers in as little as a couple of hours.
iprospectcheck: Your Trusted Partner for Fast, Accurate, Compliant Alabama Background Checks
Alabama employers should view pre-employment background checks as a critical factor in making hiring decisions. When you conduct comprehensive, accurate, and FCRA-compliant background checks, you can feel more confident in your hiring decisions while protecting your company from potential liability.
At iprospectcheck, we have the skills and resources you need to complete thorough employment background checks that comply with the law.
Contact us today to learn about the services we provide and to request a free quote.
DISCLAIMER: The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Consult your counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.