Background checks provide employers with valuable information regarding their job candidates. These reports can verify a potential employee’s identity, employment and educational background, and, most importantly, their criminal history.
As an employer, your need for this information goes beyond general curiosity, and the reports can be used as a factor in determining a job candidate’s readiness and ability to perform well in a potential position at your company. Knowing as much as possible about a person prior to hiring them ensures you hire the right person for your company and for the job.
In Arizona, there are many ways an employer can obtain background information on a potential employee, though some ways are more conclusive and accurate than others.
While calling a candidate’s past employers and references may provide insight into their experience, running a comprehensive and compliant Arizona background check is the best way to obtain all the information you need about an individual prior to hiring them.
However, you’ll want to make sure you follow Arizona’s specific laws and guidelines for doing so.
With this complete guide to Arizona background checks, you can be confident when it comes time for you to run an employment background check.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
But that’s not all.
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.
Is Arizona a Felony Friendly State?
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 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 Do I Get a Criminal Background Check in Arizona?
There are many different ways an employer can get an Arizona background check on a potential employee. The Arizona Department of Public Safety provides access to criminal history records to authorized individuals and agencies. All Arizona criminal justice agencies are required to report information regarding arrests and convictions to the state where copies can then be provided to those who are authorized to view them.
If an employer is considered an authorized individual or agency and desires to obtain background check information through the Arizona Department of Public Safety, that employer would need to submit the fingerprints of their candidate. And the agency attempting to obtain the background check must have a state statute mandating them to do so. Moreover, the Arizona Department of Public Safety does not provide background check information to private companies, only those in the public sector and some non-profit organizations.
For those employers who do not meet the requirements to obtain Arizona background check information though the department of public safety or who are looking for a more streamlined approach to running a background check on their candidate, third-party background screening companies like iprospectcheck are the best option. They provide employers with all the information they need, all in one place.
If an individual is interested in viewing their criminal background report, possibly prior to applying for a position, they can do so through the Criminal History Records Section of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. While the access to the record is for viewing purposes only, and not attempting to change or refute the information provided, it is possible for individuals to know their personal, reported background information. However, employers should not rely solely on any information provided only by the candidate themselves. It is always a good idea to verify any information provided.
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.