Texas Background Checks: A Complete Guide (2020)
Background checks serve many purposes. Today, they’re a critical tool for landlords, hiring organizations, and other companies, and are a common element of housing or employment approval.
Are you wondering how to conduct background checks in Texas? This blog breaks down what you need to know about the process.
3 Common Reasons Employers Run Background Checks in Texas
As an employer, there are many reasons you might conduct a background check on your applicants. Here are a few of the most common reasons:
Many companies in Texas conduct employment background checks as part of the standard onboarding process. This helps a company verify an applicant’s employment history and certify that there are no criminal convictions in a person’s background
2. Screening for Managerial Positions
Managers have a higher level of responsibility than standard employees, so it’s common for companies to background check anyone applying for a managerial position. The background check requirements for a manager may be stricter than those for an entry-level employee.
3. Screening for People in the Caring Professions
EMS personnel, first responders, caregivers, and similar professionals all care for and spend time with vulnerable populations, such as children and elderly adults. To ensure the safety of their patients and clients, companies screen these applicants thoroughly. It’s common for these prospects to undergo a background check, criminal records check, credit check, and any other kind of background screening an employer deems valid.
How to run Background Checks in Texas
In the state of Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety (or TxDPS) manages all background checks. This government agency operates the state’s Conviction Database, which serves as a central catch-all for public criminal records pulled from the Computerized Criminal History (CCH) system.
CCH is a unique database. It contains all the state’s criminal records from both public and private sources, but only authorized law enforcement and criminal justice agencies can access it.
Public records, such as criminal histories, court records, vital records, and more, meanwhile, are easy to locate in Texas. The Texas Department of Public Safety or the Texas Office of Court Administration oversees these records, and organizations can request copies by going through the appropriate channels.
While your company can run its own background checks, it’s wise to partner with a third-party background check company like iprospectcheck instead. On your own, you’ll only have access to public records. Although public records can be informative, they don’t paint the full picture of an applicant’s background and may omit important information about arrests and convictions from private sources.
When you work with a third-party background check company, however, you get access to all essential records and documents, including those that pertain to criminal histories and convictions.
How Many Years Back Does a Background Check Go in Texas?
In the state of Texas, criminal background checks generated by an employer can go back seven years into an applicant’s criminal and personal history. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule.
Under Texas law (TX Bus. Code Sec. 20.05), the seven-year check is applicable unless the salary for the open position exceeds $75,000 annually. If the prospect is applying for a job that pays more than $75,000 annually, the employer is entitled to evaluate the applicant’s records from the point the applicant turned eighteen.
The seven-year rule also applies when a company hires a third party to conduct its background checks, as consumer reporting agencies are subject to both federal and state regulations and limitations.
Finally, employers should know that the courts typically seal the criminal records of minors. This means that employers will likely not see any criminal convictions an applicant incurred before he or she turned eighteen.
Arrests Without Conviction
What happens when a prospect was arrested for a crime but never charged?
In the state of Texas, arrests without a conviction should never solely be grounds for making an employment decision. The state believes that people are innocent until proven guilty, and The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) asserts and upholds federal anti-discrimination laws. These laws prohibit the use of Texas arrest records in employment decisions, which is critical to know as you learn how to run a criminal background check in Texas.
To remain compliant, employers should limit themselves to convictions, guilty pleas, and pleas of no contest when making hiring decisions.
How Can I Run Compliant Background Checks in Texas?
If you want to keep your background checks compliant, you must focus on equity and communication. Under EEOC guidelines, it is illegal to check the background of an applicant when that decision is based on a person’s national origin, color, sex, race, religion, disability, age, or genetic information.
Before you collect background information through a third-party background check company, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that you do the following:
- Tell the applicant or employee you might use the information to make decisions about his or her employment. This notice must be in writing and in a stand-alone format. The advice can’t be in an employment application. You can include some minor additional information in the notice (such as a brief description of the nature of consumer reports), but only if it doesn’t confuse or detract from the notice.
- If you are asking a company to provide an “investigative report” – a report based on personal interviews concerning a person’s character, general reputation, personal characteristics, and lifestyle – you must also notify the applicant or employee of his or her right to a description of the nature and scope of the investigation.
- Get the applicant’s or employee’s written permission to do the background check. This can be part of the document you use to notify the person that you will receive the report. If you want the authorization to allow you to obtain background reports throughout the person’s employment, make sure you say so clearly and conspicuously.
- Certify to the company from which you are obtaining the report that you:
- notified the applicant and got their permission to obtain a background report;
- complied with all of the FCRA requirements; and
- won’t discriminate against the applicant or employee, or otherwise misuse the information in violation of federal or state equal opportunity laws or regulations.
If a background check reveals past convictions that entitle you to take adverse action (for example, refusing to hire the applicant or hiring the applicant for a lesser position), the FCRA issues these guidelines:
- Before you take an adverse employment action, you must give the applicant or employee:
- a notice that includes a copy of the consumer report you relied on to make your decision; and
- a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” which you should have received from the company that sold you the report.
- By giving the person the notice in advance, the person has an opportunity to review the report and explain any negative information.
- After you take an adverse employment action, you must tell the applicant or employee (orally, in writing, or electronically):
- that he or she was rejected because of information in the report;
- the name, address, and phone number of the company that sold the report;
- that the company selling the report didn’t make the hiring decision, and can’t give specific reasons for it; and
- that he or she has a right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of the report, and to obtain an additional, free report from the reporting company within 60 days.
Need Fast, Accurate, Compliant Texas Background Checks? We Can Help!
As you can see, background check compliance guidelines are complicated, and it’s easy for companies to take the wrong step. Fortunately, you can streamline the process by partnering with iprospectcheck.
As an industry leader in compliant background checks for Texas and many other states, we provide rapid, accurate, and reliable background check services you can rely on.
Contact us today to request a free 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.