A Complete Guide to Florida Background Checks for 2020
When you have an open position in your Florida company, there are several ways to gather information about your applicants. In some cases, companies call an applicant’s former employer and other references to get a sense of what the applicant is like, and whether they’d be a good fit for the position. More frequently, though, Florida employers hire a third-party company to conduct employee background checks on their applicants.
This approach benefits employers by providing comprehensive data and accurate results about an applicant’s criminal history, background, arrests, and more. There are, however, legal limits that define how employers can obtain and use information about an applicant’s history.
In this post, we’ll discuss what you need to know about how to conduct background checks in Florida and how to remain in compliance.
Florida Employment Background Checks 101: What are the Screening Requirements?
In Florida, there are two kinds of background checks. These are as follows:
- Level 1 Checks. Level 1 checks are state-only, name-based checks. They include a dive into an applicant’s employment history, as well as state or local criminal history. They also check to see whether the applicant’s name is on the national sex offender registry. In some cases, they may include a credit check, and a local criminal records check.
- Level 2 Checks. Level 2 checks require fingerprinting and a comprehensive FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) background check. Applicants who have prohibited offenses on their record will be rejected after these checks.
The list of prohibited offenses for Level 1 and 2 checks is long. According to the Florida State Government website:
Level 1 and 2 standards provide that no persons have been arrested for and are awaiting final disposition of, have been found guilty of, regardless of adjudication, or entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to, or have been adjudicated delinquent and the record has not been sealed or expunged for, any offense prohibited under any of the following provisions of state law or similar law of another jurisdiction2 :
(a) Section 393.135, relating to sexual misconduct with certain developmentally disabled clients and reporting of such sexual misconduct.
(b) Section 394.4593, relating to sexual misconduct with certain mental health patients and reporting of such sexual misconduct.
(c) Section 415.111, relating to adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation of aged persons or disabled adults.
(d) Section 777.04, relating to attempts, solicitation, and conspiracy to commit an offense listed in this subsection.
(e) Section 782.04, relating to murder.
(f) Section 782.07, relating to manslaughter, aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or disabled adult, or aggravated manslaughter of a child.
(g) Section 782.071, relating to vehicular homicide.
(h) Section 782.09, relating to killing of an unborn child by injury to the mother.
(i) Chapter 784, relating to assault, battery, and culpable negligence, if the offense was a felony. (j) Section 784.011, relating to assault, if the victim of the offense was a minor.
(k) Section 784.03, relating to battery, if the victim of the offense was a minor.
There are many other disqualifying offenses Florida employers should be aware of. Consult the government website for a comprehensive list of disqualifying charges.
What Information Does an FDLE Background Check Contain?
Frequently, employers use the term “background check” as a synonym for “criminal background check.” This causes confusion for many hiring companies. FDLE wants to set the record straight. Here’s what the organization has to say about the information contained in their background checks:
From the FDLE perspective, a background check is a criminal history record check to determine if a person has been arrested and/or convicted of a crime. Although some companies use the phrase “background check” to include driver’s record checks, credit checks, or interviews with neighbors and employers, for FDLE purposes, it includes a search of the following databases:
- The Florida Computerized Criminal History Central Repository for Florida arrests (state check).
- The Florida Computerized Criminal History Central Repository for Florida arrests AND the national criminal history database at the FBI for federal arrests and arrests from other states (state and national check).
- The Florida Crime Information Center for warrants and domestic violence injunctions (warrant files check).
The national record check is based on the submission of fingerprints. For state record checks, submissions may be based on a name (and other descriptors) or fingerprints.
While some companies utilize FBI information in their background checks, as well, the FDLE remains an essential resource for Florida employers.
Are There Limitations on What Information Employers in Florida Can Use?
Yes. Certain Florida background check records are subject to limitations under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA. According to the FCRA’s “7-year rule,” for example, certain criminal records must be removed from an applicant’s history after seven years.
These records include civil lawsuits, judgments against an applicant, arrest records, and paid tax liens. The FCRA also imposes a few additional restrictions on Florida employers. Specifically, the FCRA requires companies to:
- Obtain applicants’ permission before conducting a background check.
- Inform applicants if the contents of the background check report could disqualify them from being hired or result in the company hiring the applicant for a lesser position.
- Provide applicants with a copy of their background check reports.
Additionally, the FCRA requires employers who run background checks to ensure the information in the report is current and accurate. If it is not, an applicant has the right to dispute the background check’s contents, which will trigger an investigation by the reporting agency. If the investigation proves the report is inaccurate, the applicant and employer will both receive written notices.
If employers or background check service providers fail to follow this set of requirements, applicants may be entitled to file a claim under the FCRA.
Is a Conviction Always a Disqualifying Factor for Florida Criminal Records?
Not always, no. According to standards established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers can disqualify applicants if background check records suggest that the applicant would pose an unreasonable risk to the company.
Before a company takes this “adverse action,” though, the EEOC requires them to consider the following:
- The severity of the offense in question.
- The amount of time that has passed since the conviction.
- How the offense relates to the job.
Additionally, employers are encouraged to give the applicant a chance to explain the criminal conviction and the circumstances under which it took place.
In some cases, regulations may bar an employer from considering arrests in an applicant’s criminal history and encourage them to focus on actual convictions, instead.
Why Partner With a Third-Party Background Check Company?
While Florida background checks are an essential tool for employers, they involve many legal considerations, and it’s easy to unintentionally fall out of compliance if you’re conducting your own background checks.
Additionally, it may be difficult to access an applicant’s complete criminal history if you’re relying on the public records you’re entitled to as an employer. Similar to Texas, Florida has its own repository of criminal information, and employers can’t always see everything contained within that repository.
Fortunately, partnering with a background check company like iprospectcheck allows you to navigate around this roadblock. We provide comprehensive, accurate, and rapid background check results to help you screen your candidates and find the perfect fit for your Florida business.
Ready to learn more? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our friendly specialists.
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.