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Colorado Background Checks: An Employer’s Guide for 2023

colorado background check

Running a background check on a potential employee is vital in ensuring you hire the right person for the job.

So, where do you start?

Navigating the background screening process can be confusing, and there are a few key items to remember when running an employment background check in Colorado.

This complete guide to Colorado background checks will help you feel confident about running background checks on potential employees.

It will also help you choose the best way to obtain the information you need to ensure you are hiring the best candidate for your company.

Let’s start now.

What Shows up on a Background Check in Colorado?

Colorado employers typically request criminal history information and verification of past employment, education, and credentials on background checks.

However, depending on the specific job for which you are hiring, you might also request other types of pre-employment checks such as drug screens or driving records.

Criminal history information

If an applicant has a criminal record, the following types of information can be viewed on his or her pre-employment background report:

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

Employment verification

Requesting an employment verification can help you to check the information your applicants report about their employment histories.

This type of information helps to ensure that your applicants are experienced and trustworthy.

You will see the companies at which an applicant has worked, the titles he or she has held, and his or her dates of employment at each company.

Education verification

If you are hiring employees for positions that require specific degrees or certificates, education verification will help to ensure your employees are qualified for their jobs.

With iprospectcheck’s education verification services, you can verify the names of each institution attended, the dates of attendance, and any certifications or degrees that were earned.

How Do I Get a Background Check in Colorado?

If you believe you’ve found the perfect candidate for the job, it’s time to run a background check on them to obtain all relevant information prior to the official job offer, ensuring there is nothing alarming within their records that would make you think twice about having them work for your company.

But how do you conduct a background check?

The information pulled in a Colorado background check comes through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Department of Public Safety.

A CBI background check gives you access to some public records, which you can use to better know your candidate’s history.

But before you begin pulling records and using them as grounds for employment, there are specific Colorado policies and laws you’ll want to make sure you know, understand, and maintain throughout the entire hiring process.

Colorado Background Check Laws for Employment

State Laws

Ban-the-Box Law

One of the most important background check laws for employment in Colorado actually has to do with the application process.

Colorado is one of 35 states that has adopted what is known as the  “Ban the Box” policy, which encourages employers to no longer require a candidate to disclose on an application if they have been convicted of a crime or felony.

By waiting until after a candidate is deemed qualified for the position to dive deeper into their background, the goal of this policy is to increase fairness for those applying with a criminal history.

There is hope this policy will decrease automatic disqualifications based on criminal records and increase job equality for those with a conviction history.

Credit History Check Law

Once you start pulling background check information to ensure a potential employee is right for the job, you may be interested in the candidate’s credit history as well as their criminal history.

However, there are specific regulations around who can pull a candidate’s credit report and for what reason.

In Colorado, there are only three instances in which an employer can require a candidate to consent to having their credit checked during the pre-employment background screening process.

This occurs when

  1. the report is being requested by an employer of a bank or financial institution;
  2. the report is required by law;
  3. the report is directly related to the job position in which the candidate is applying.

If you are a bank or financial institution, running a credit report is required and the information can and should be used to ensure a candidate is a good fit for the specific job.

If you are hiring for an executive, management personnel, or federal contractor you can also request the candidate’s credit report and use the information to help decide if you want to hire the person.

In all cases, an employer must have a sincere purpose for running the report, and he or she must disclose all of this information, in writing, to the candidate before the background check is conducted.

If, as an employer, you decide to use the information found on the credit report as grounds to not hire a candidate, it is required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act that you disclose to the candidate, in writing, the exact reason they are not being hired for the job.

Colorado Clean Slate Act

Gov. Jared Polis signed the Clean Slate Act into law on May 31, 2022.

Under this law, arrest records that didn’t result in convictions are automatically sealed.

Other criminal records that must also be automatically sealed include the following:

  • Civil infractions following four years since disposition
  • Petty offenses and misdemeanor convictions seven years following final disposition
  • Felony convictions 10 years following final disposition or the release from incarceration

Crimes of violence can’t be sealed.

Background check providers can’t report sealed conviction records on background check reports.

Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act became effective on Jan. 1, 2021, and is codified at C.R.S. § 8-5-101 et. seq.

This law makes it illegal for employers to pay employees differently based on gender or a combination of gender and another protected characteristic.

It also prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history or using any previous history of earnings the employer discovers to determine the salary to offer.

Employers are required to notify existing employees about job openings and opportunities for promotion together with details about the corresponding pay scales.

The law also requires employers to conduct analyses of existing pay inequities to correct pay differences based on gender.

Name-Based Criminal Records Checks Law

Under HB 19-1166, which is codified at C.R.S. § 12-310-107, applicants who have to be registered for professional occupations are required to submit fingerprints for fingerprint-based background checks.

If a fingerprint-based background check reveals an arrest without a disposition, this law requires the applicant to undergo a name-based search of court records to verify the disposition of the underlying case.

Social Media and the Workplace Law

Colorado’s Social Media and the Workplace Law is codified at C.R.S. § 8-2-127 and has been effective in the state since 2013.

Under this law, it is unlawful for employers to do any of the following things:

  • Require, ask, or suggest that an applicant or employee disclose their password, username, or another method of access to their social media accounts
  • Compel the applicant or employee to add the employer or the employer’s agent as a contact on their contact lists for their personal online accounts
  • Require, ask, or suggest that the employee or applicant change their privacy settings to allow the employer or its agent the ability to view the social media accounts

Federal Laws

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The FCRA restricts how consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) can gather, hold, and distribute background check information to employers and how employers can use the information they receive.

CRAs are prohibited from reporting the following information when it is older than seven years for jobs paying annual salaries of less than $75,000:

  • Arrests not leading to convictions
  • Bankruptcies
  • Civil judgments
  • Civil lawsuits
  • Liens

These restrictions don’t apply to jobs offering salaries of at least $75,000 or to other relevant information about an applicant’s past employment, education, and others.

When an employer discovers that an applicant has a criminal record on a background check, they must complete the adverse action process before deciding not to hire them.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits employment discrimination based on an applicant’s or employee’s protected characteristics.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance for employers under Title VII about how they should treat arrest and conviction information.

If an employer learns an applicant has a criminal conviction, they must assess it as it directly relates to the position for which the applicant has applied before deciding not to hire them.

Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act

Congress passed the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act as an amendment to the 2020 Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. This law became effective on Dec. 20, 2021.

Under the law, federal employers and contractors are prohibited from asking about criminal history information on job applications. They also can’t conduct criminal background checks until they have made conditional employment offers.

Are Criminal Records Public in Colorado?

Because Colorado believes in the importance of background checks for employment, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Department of Public Safety does make some records public to help employers locate important documents and records about their candidates.

While it can be a bit of a scavenger hunt to get the information you need to know about a candidate on your own, depending how in depth you’d like to go, it may be possible.

Colorado has what is called the Colorado Open Records Act, which requires most records be made available to the public.

While some records are still kept confidential, such as documents to aid in a criminal investigation or those including trade secrets or cyber-security plans, you can submit a written request for most records, available to view electronically for a fee or in the appropriate office at varied costs.

Here is where your hunt will begin.

You can obtain many records through the Secretary of State’s office, though they do not hold and process all requests for the state of Colorado.

To get the information you need, you may have to go to specific government offices and request records individually. Each office will have different request and review processes, so it is best to contact the office ahead of time to ensure you have everything you need prior to arrival.

If you are interested in doing an offender search, the Colorado Department of Corrections makes that possible through their offender search portal.

In addition, the Colorado Judicial Branch provides resources for public searches of court records, though with some you may have to visit or call the exact court in order to obtain copies of the information.

For vital records, such as birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage or divorce verifications, you would need to visit the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

However, these records are not as easy to obtain because there are specific identification and eligibility requirements like proof of relationship or verified legal interest.

So, while Colorado does make some public records available, obtaining all the information you need on a potential employee may cost you extra time, energy, and money.

For this reason, it is often best to partner with a third-party background check company such as iprospectcheck.

Doing so will not only save you time and money but will ensure compliance throughout the entire background check process, getting you the information you need when you need it, legally.

How Far Back Do Background Checks Go in Colorado?

By Colorado State law, there is a seven-year statute when it comes to how far background checks can look back.

Colorado Consumer Credit Reporting Act§ 12-14.3-105.3 states that records of arrest, indictment, or conviction of a crime that, from the date of disposition, release, or parole, predate the report by more than seven years are not reportable.

But – there are a few exceptions.

The first exception is in regard to a candidate’s potential annual salary. If the individual being considered for a position will make an annual salary of $75,000 or more, according to the FCRA, the seven-year rule does not apply and information beyond seven years can be reported.

The second exception is for potential employees who are being considered for sensitive positions in the educational or medical field.

Those applying to be an educator in the public or private sector and all medical personnel, including home nurses, hospital workers, and nursing home attendants, are required to undergo background checks without a time restriction.

In these cases, all charges of child abuse, sexual offense against a child, or the like must be reported on a background check, regardless of how long ago the offense took place.

This information can and should be used to determine if a candidate is fit for the job.

How Much Does a Background Check Cost in Colorado?

If you go through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Department of Public Safety to obtain background check information, the fees can add up and may vary depending on the specific industry in which you’re hiring.

If you decide to go on the scavenger hunt yourself and gather court information, criminal records, and other documents from various resources, you’ll likely pay fees at courthouses, county offices, and at the Secretary of State’s office.

If you want copies of these records, you’ll pay even more. While some fees can be as low as $5.00, they will add up as you begin gathering everything you need.

And if you’re hoping to hop on Google and find a free background check company, be careful. While some companies advertise themselves as free in the beginning, many have hidden fees that must be paid to receive in-depth information and copies of the report you need.

Moreover, free background check companies are rarely as comprehensive as third-party services, and they often fail to meet all the legal requirements of running background checks.

In order to get the most accurate information at the best prices, you can partner with verified background check companies, such as iprospectcheck, that are dedicated to ensuring compliance and customer satisfaction in all they do.

iprospectcheck: Your Colorado Background Check Partner of Choice

Running an employment background check in Colorado will help you feel confident you’re hiring the right person for the job.

From learning the candidate’s criminal and financial background to verifying that their education and employment history qualifies them for the position, you don’t want to skip this important pre-employment screening step.

Although Colorado does provide access to some records through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Department of Public Safety, and you can find free background check services online, they won’t be as fast, comprehensive, or simple as partnering with a third-party background check provider like iprospectcheck.

At iprospectcheck, we are passionate about helping you make the right hire every time, doing the hard work and research for you.

Contact us today to find out how our client-first solutions can save you time and money when it comes to running an employment background check in Colorado.

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.