Arizona Background Checks: An Employer’s Guide [2022]

arizona background check

Arizona businesses work hard to build teams of employees who will help to protect their brands while accelerating the businesses’ success. Finding the right candidates can seem like a difficult process since some applicants will make inaccurate claims on their applications and resumes.

Conducting pre-employment background checks in Arizona can help you to ensure that the job candidates you hire are fully qualified for their positions and are honest. However, you must work with a reliable and reputable pre-employment background check provider to ensure that your process complies with Arizona and federal background check laws to avoid potential problems.

When you choose great employees, they can help your business to grow and succeed. Choosing the right employees can also help to make your workplace safer.

Checking your applicants’ references or searching their names on the internet is simply not enough to protect your business from potential liability.

At iprospectcheck, we complete thousands of pre-employment background checks for Arizona employers across the state, including employers in Maricopa and Pima Counties and in major cities like Phoenix, Tucson, and Scottsdale. We know how to complete comprehensive pre-employment background checks that fully comply with relevant laws.

To help you learn about the pre-employment background checking process in Arizona and the laws that apply, read this guide.

Arizona Background Check Laws: A Complete Overview

Before running a background check, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the laws and policies concerning employers’ and candidates’ rights during this process.

Specifically, it is important to become familiar with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Gilberg v. Cal. Check Cashing Stores ruling, and the Arizona Civil Rights Act.

Federal Laws

FCRA

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal regulation with specific policies regarding employment background checks in Arizona. According to the FCRA, employers who choose to run an employment background check on a potential employee must inform the candidate ahead of time, in writing, that they will be running their background report.

If an employer partners with a third-party background check company like iprospectcheck to help with the background check process, the employer will also need to provide the candidate with the background check company’s information.

Lastly, if an employer decides to take adverse action and use the information found on a background check as grounds to not hire a candidate for the job, there are three steps that must be followed in order to stay complaint.

  1. You must provide the applicant with a pre-adverse action letter, informing them that you will not hire them for the intended position due information disclosed on their background check report.
  2. You must wait a reasonable amount of time—with a suggestion of five working days—before sending the official adverse action letter. This allows the candidate time to dispute or correct any information on their background check.
  3. If the candidate issues a response to the pre-adverse action letter and takes the steps necessary to amend their background report, and you still choose not to hire them, you must send the official adverse action letter.

In all these steps, consent and authorization are key, as well as clear language and appropriate timing.

Title VII

In 1964, Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on the protected characteristics of applicants and employees, including race, national origin, sex, color, pregnancy status, disability, religion, and others. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that is tasked with enforcing this law and creating regulations under it.

In the context of pre-employment background checks, Title VII covers situations in which criminal history information is reported on pre-employment background checks. According to guidance issued by the EEOC about how employers should treat arrest and conviction information, Arizona employers should consider that type of information on an individual basis in relation to the particular position for which the applicant has applied.

Employers must complete this individual assessment before deciding against hiring the applicant based on the criminal history information in a background report.

State Laws

Gilberg v. Cal. Check Cashing Stores

The Gilberg v. Cal. Check Cashing Stores ruling applies to all states in the ninth circuit, which includes Arizona. The verdict in this case ruled that employers in California—along with other ninth circuit states, such as Arizona—must provide applicants with two standalone forms prior conducting pre-employment background screenings.

The first form must include the information required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act as mentioned above. The second is disclosure and consent under specific state laws in the ninth circuit.

These two separate forms must be written with clear and simple language which any individual undergoing the background check process can easily understand.

Arizona Civil Rights Act

Arizona has the Arizona Civil Rights Act, which focuses on discrimination and protection for candidates. The overall goal of this act is to prevent discrimination during the hiring process. Specifically, an employer cannot discriminate against a potential employee based on their race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, including medical exams and inquiries, or national origin.

However, according to the Arizona Civil Rights Act, employers can inquire about a candidate’s prior conviction(s), including where and when the crime took place, as well as the final disposition of the case. However, this can long longer be a question on the initial application—more on this in a moment.

If an employer chooses to discuss an applicant’s criminal background, they must clearly state that the information provided by the candidate about the conviction will not be used, individually, as a factor to deny employment. These policies are set in place to give those with a criminal history a fair chance when seeking employment.

2020 Senate Bill 1504

Arizona SB 1504 was passed into law on Aug. 25, 2020. This law created stricter requirements for childcare employment background checks in the state.

All of the required background checks must be completed before the employment start date and every five years after. Covered employers include the following:

  • Childcare resource and referral agencies
  • DES certified home childcare providers
  • DHS certified group homes
  • DHS licensed childcare centers

Under this law, operators, owners, applicants, volunteers, and any family members in home-based childcare centers are required to submit fingerprints. The fingerprints will then be submitted for a national FBI fingerprint check, a search of the Department of Public Safety for state criminal records, and NCIC national sex offender registry search, and an Arizona sex offender registry search.

Searches will also be performed through the Arizona Child Abuse and Neglect Registry, criminal history databases from all states in which the person previously lived, sex offender registry searches from states of prior residence, and child abuse and neglect registries from states of prior residence.

Disqualifying offenses include any that are listed in ARS § 41-7158.07, including convictions and pending charges for attempted offenses, solicitation, conspiracy, or facilitation to commit one of these crimes.

Is Arizona a Felony Friendly State?

The decision to no longer inquire about criminal history on job applications in Arizona, has made them one of the 35 states that “Ban the Box.”

This means that Arizona employers can no longer ask an applicant about their criminal history on a job application. While this requirement is only for the public sector and has no hold on private companies, the “Ban the Box” policy makes Arizona a more felony friendly state.

It offers a fair chance for individuals to prove their ability to perform job functions without the knowledge of their criminal history automatically lessening their chances of getting hired for the job. “Ban the Box” provides protection for job seekers with a criminal background, allowing them to show who they are now before an employer looks into their past.

However, this does not mean the information will never be known by the employer. Employers still have a right and responsibility to run an employment background check in Arizona.

While they’ll need to follow the appropriate reporting guidelines as set forth by the FCRA that were mentioned earlier, criminal background checks are permitted.

How to Run a Background Check for Employment in Arizona

In Arizona, the Arizona Department of Public Safety maintains a central repository of state criminal records. However, the state will only provide criminal history information to agencies that have been authorized by statute to receive them. It does not provide criminal records information to private employers other than non-profits.

If you represent an authorized agency or a non-profit, you can send a fingerprint-based request for an applicant’s criminal history information. If you are a private company and are not a non-profit organization, you cannot obtain criminal history information this way.

Even if you are a non-profit, the information that you might receive from the Arizona Department of Public Safety will not include information about your applicants’ employment histories, education, and other data that you might need.

Most employers do not meet the state’s requirements for obtaining employment background checks from the central repository. Some try to complete their own background checks by searching through court records in each place where applicants have lived, searching online for their names, searching social media, and calling references and former employers for information.

However, these methods can be problematic. You might receive inaccurate or incomplete information, and you might also receive information that could violate the laws if you rely on it to make adverse employment decisions.

The best way to conduct Arizona pre-employment background checks is to outsource your background checks to a reputable, FCRA-compliant background check provider like iprospectcheck.

When you work with us, you receive all of the information that you need quickly. You can also feel confident that the information we provide to you follows all relevant laws to help you avoid potential liabilities.

What Shows up on a Background Check in Arizona?

Arizona businesses can request multiple types of information on pre-employment background checks from iprospectcheck. The particular information you might see will depend on the information you request.

However, most employers in Arizona ask for criminal history, employment history, and educational information on their pre-employment background checks. Depending on the nature of your open jobs, other types of reports are also available.

Criminal history information

If a candidate has criminal convictions on his or her criminal record, the background report will include the following types of information about the offense:

  • Type of offense
  • Date of offense
  • File date
  • Offense level – misdemeanor or felony
  • Disposition of the offense
  • Disposition date
  • Sentence information

Employment verification

Conducting employment verifications can help you to determine whether your applicants have been truthful in their applications. You will see all of your applicants’ former employers, their employment dates at each company, and the positions that they held.

Verifying your applicants’ employment histories helps to ensure you hire honest employees who have the right experience for your positions.

Education verification

Many jobs require applicants to hold specific degrees or certifications. When you verify your applicants’ educational histories, your reports will include the names of all of the schools they attended, their dates of attendance, and any degrees or certifications they earned.

How Far Back Does a Background Check Go in Arizona?

Every state is required to follow the regulations set forth in the Fair Credit Reporting Act regarding how far back pre-employment background check reports go. The FCRA’s magic number is seven. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), reports cannot include records of arrest of a crime which does not result in a conviction that is more than seven years old.

But–this is not without exception.

The seven-year rule does not apply to candidates whose potential annual salary is greater than $75,000, as well as those who are being hired as federal contractors or for executive and management positions.

And while there are specific instances in which the FCRA allows states to extend the seven-year guideline, particularly in regard to hiring employees to work in the medical or educational fields, Arizona abides by the seven-year rule.

Yes, though Arizona background checks go back seven years, in some cases, those with a criminal record have the right to appeal to a judge to have their conviction set aside.

While this does not completely remove a felony or misdemeanor from a background check report, it does note on the report that the conviction has been set aside by a judge. This note informs employers that the candidate completed the necessary steps of their probation or sentence.

How Much does an AZ Background Check Cost?

When you want to complete pre-employment background checks in Arizona for your business, you will most likely not be able to secure criminal history information from the state as previously described.

Searching online might identify a number of providers that claim to provide free background checks. However, you should treat these providers with caution. Most will not provide reliable or complete information, and the reports you receive may be riddled with inaccuracies and fail to comply with the FCRA and other laws.

When you work with iprospectcheck, we offer several packages as well as some custom add-ons. If you anticipate ordering between 25 and 50 background checks each year, the cost for a basic pre-employment background check is $19.95. This background check includes the following information:

The standard background check costs $39.95 each and includes the following information:

  • Identity verification
  • National criminal history search
  • Sex offender search
  • Global terrorist search
  • Seven-year county criminal records search

Finally, our premium pre-employment background checks cost $69.95 each. They include everything in the standard background check package as well as the following additional types of information:

  • Education verification
  • Employment verification

We also offer many add-on checks that you choose to meet your needs. If you anticipate ordering more than 50 pre-employment background checks each year, you can call us for a custom quote.

How Long Do Background Checks Take in Arizona?

How long it might take for you to complete a background check will depend on how you go about conducting it. If you are authorized under state law to obtain criminal record information from the state, it can take a couple of weeks. However, the information will not include anything about your applicants’ employment or educational histories.

If you try to search online and through court records, the process can be extremely time-consuming and waste your time. You can anticipate this method of searching to take weeks and to return incomplete and potentially inaccurate information.

When you work with a provider like iprospectcheck, you can receive your results very quickly in most cases. Our background check reports can come to you within one to two days, depending on your requested information.

However, COVID-19 has forced courts to close and caused other delays. If we encounter an unavoidable delay, we will promptly notify you to keep you fully informed about the process.

iprospectcheck: Your Arizona Background Check Partner of Choice

Background checks are a vital step in the hiring process, and iprospectcheck is here to ensure you remain compliant while obtaining all the information you need to make the right hire every time.

Are you ready to obtain the most accurate and comprehensive information regarding your candidate’s history? Not all Arizona background checks are created equal, and you deserve the best experience for your candidate and company.

At iprospectcheck, we are dedicated to ensuring you and your potential employees receive high-quality customer service during the entire background check process.

Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

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.

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.