Employers in Vermont that are looking to hire should carefully check the backgrounds of job candidates.
Some applicants falsify information on their resumes and applications or omit problematic and relevant details. Conducting pre-employment background checks in Vermont can help employers ensure that the employees they hire are trustworthy and safe.
Did you know that a woman in Vermont omitted a previous felony conviction for forging prescriptions and was able to get her nursing license?
A pre-employment background check in Vermont can help employers screen out dishonest and unqualified applicants.
You should treat your company’s background checks as an essential component of your hiring process. Comprehensive background screens can provide you with a complete overview of job candidates, allowing you to make better hiring decisions and reducing your exposure to potential liability.
Based on our experience conducting background checks for companies across Vermont, including in Burlington, Montpelier, Stowe, and more, we have written this comprehensive overview of the pre-employment background check process and the applicable laws.
4 Important Reasons Vermont Employers Conduct Background Checks
There are numerous reasons why Vermont employers conduct pre-employment background checks. The most common ones are detailed below.
1. Pre-Employment Checks for Entry-Level Positions
Many Vermont employers conduct pre-employment background checks on applicants who are applying for entry-level positions.
These pre-employment screens allow employers to confirm the claims made by applicants on their resumes and check for any criminal convictions that might disqualify them.
2. Pre-Employment Checks for Supervisory Positions
Employees who hold supervisory positions have a greater degree of access to their employers’ sensitive information and greater responsibility than other employees.
Because of these factors, employers hiring for these types of positions generally conduct much more detailed pre-employment screens on people applying for supervisory roles.
3. Ongoing Employment Screens
Ongoing employment background checks are required in some industries, including trucking and the caring professions. Companies within these and other industries conduct background checks on existing employees at regular intervals.
4. Pre-Employment Screens for the Caring Professions
Agencies and companies that provide services to vulnerable people, including people with disabilities, children, the elderly, and others, are required to conduct extensive background checks on their applicants and volunteers.
Companies within the caring profession do so because they must ensure that their patients and clients remain safe and protect them from potential exploitation and abuse.
Vermont Background Check Laws
Vermont employers are required to comply with federal and state laws when they conduct pre-employment background checks to avoid penalties, fines, and potential liability.
Below is an overview of the relevant laws.
Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The FCRA is a comprehensive federal law that protects privacy rights of consumers in the information that is gathered, held, and reported by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) and used by employers.
Before an employer can conduct a pre-employment background check in Vermont, it must first notify the applicant that it intends to conduct a pre-employment check and secure his or her written authorization.
The FCRA also controls the steps employers must take if they decide to not hire candidates because of the information revealed on background check reports.
At iprospectcheck, we understand the requirements of the FCRA and always return accurate, up-to-date, and FCRA-compliant background check reports to our clients.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title VII is the most important federal anti-discrimination law in the U.S. This law prohibits employment discrimination in all phases of employment, including hiring.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title VII. According to EEOC guidance, employers that discover criminal convictions on background checks must individually assess the convictions as they relate to the job duties of the positions for which they are hiring before making adverse hiring decisions.
Vermont State Laws on Employment Background Checks
Several state laws in Vermont also govern pre-employment background checks. Employers should comply with the following state laws.
Consumer Consent Required Before Background Checks Can Be Completed
Under 9 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 2480e, employers must obtain written consent from applicants before a CRA can conduct a background check, including a credit check. CRAs must have reasonable procedures in place to ensure that people requesting information have written consent from the subjects of the checks.
Under 9 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 2480b, CRAs are required to disclose all of the information they have gathered about an individual upon his or her request. They must also provide notice to Vermont consumers each time the agency discloses information that details their rights.
Employers Cannot Ask Applicants to Pay for Background Checks
Under 20 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 2056c, employers are prohibited from asking their applicants to pay for criminal records checks as a condition of employment.
Ban-the-Box Law – General
Under 21 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 495j, employers in Vermont cannot inquire about an applicant’s criminal history on the initial application or until the applicant has had the opportunity for an interview and has been determined to be qualified for the position.
Ban-the-Box Law – Employers Providing Services to Vulnerable Populations
Employers that provide services to vulnerable adults may access criminal conviction records from the Department of Human Services until a conditional offer of employment has been extended under 33 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 6914.
Employers Cannot Ask Applicants to Pay for Pre-Employment Medical Exams
Under 21 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 301, employers cannot ask applicants to pay for pre-employment medical exams as a condition of employment.
Polygraph Tests Prohibited as a Condition of Employment
Under 21 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 494a, employers cannot ask applicants to submit to polygraph tests as a condition of employment. However, law enforcement agencies, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Department of Liquor and Lottery are excepted and may require polygraph testing.
Use of Credit Report
Under 21 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 495i, Vermont employers are prohibited from asking about an applicant’s or employee’s credit history or refusing to hire an applicant or terminating an employee based on his or her credit record.
However, financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, employers for positions that require access to financial information, and those that are required to check credit reports by state or federal law are excepted.
Social Media Privacy
Under 21 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 495l, employers are prohibited from asking employees and applicants to disclose their social media passwords or account information, ask an applicant or employee to unlock a device and turn it over, or to access social media accounts in the employer’s presence.
Salary History Information
Under 21 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 495m, employers are not allowed to ask about an applicant’s salary history, require an applicant’s former salary meet an established minimum or maximum, or decide whether or not to interview a candidate based on his or her past compensation.
Pre-Employment Drug Testing
Under 21 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 512, an employer cannot ask an applicant to submit to a pre-employment drug test until a conditional offer of employment has been made. The employer must provide the applicant with a list of the drugs for which he or she will be tested.
Expunged Records Not Reported
Under 13 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 7606, qualifying criminal convictions for which a person has received an expungement may not be reported. Employers cannot inquire about expunged records, and applicants do not have to disclose them.
What Shows up on a Background Check for Employment in Vermont?
The information you might receive when you conduct a Vermont background check for employment will depend on the reports you request. Most employers in Vermont request criminal history, employment history, education history, and professional license information.
In general, a pre-employment background screening report will include the following information:
- Misdemeanor/felony convictions that have not been sealed or expunged
- Pending criminal cases
- Arrests resulting in convictions other than expunged arrests/convictions
- Employment history
- Sex offender registration
- Education history
- Domestic Terrorist Watch List
- Address history
Here is what might appear on some of these reports:
Criminal Record Check
A pre-employment criminal background check will reveal the following types of information when an applicant has a non-expunged criminal conviction:
- Offense type
- Offense date
- Offense severity (misdemeanor or felony)
- Disposition date
An expunged conviction or arrest will not be reported.
Education verification allows you to confirm the claims an applicant has made about his or her educational qualifications. On this type of report, the following information will appear:
- Name of each school attended
- Dates of attendance
- Degrees, diplomas, or certificates earned
Employment verification reports allow employers to confirm an applicant’s employment history. You will see the following types of information on this type of report:
- Names of all former employers
- Dates of employment with each former employer
- Positions held
How Far Back Does a Background Check go in Vermont?
The FCRA controls how far back pre-employment background checks can go in Vermont. Under the FCRA, there is a seven-year lookback period that restricts the following information from being reported when it is seven or more years old for positions paying less than $75,000:
- Arrests not resulting in convictions
- Civil lawsuits
- Civil judgments
The lookback period does not apply to jobs paying $75,000 or more per year. Under the expungement laws of Vermont, expunged convictions and arrests will also not be reported.
The FCRA’s time limitations also do not apply to non-expunged criminal convictions, education, employment history, or credentials.
How Do I Get a Background Check in Vermont?
You can obtain Vermont criminal records by submitting a request to the Vermont Crime Information Center’s Vermont Criminal Conviction Record Internet Service online. Individuals can also request their own Vermont criminal records by mail from the Vermont Crime Information Center.
However, a Vermont state background check will only show non-expunged Vermont misdemeanors and felonies. It will not show information about convictions from other jurisdictions or other critical background information about an applicant’s past employment or education.
Some employers attempt a do-it-yourself approach to conducting pre-employment background checks by sending requests to multiple agencies, past employers, and educational institutions. However, this approach might not allow you to get all of the information you need and could take weeks.
A better way to conduct Vermont pre-employment background checks is to work with a reputable third-party employment background check company like iprospectcheck. We have comprehensive access to reliable databases and can quickly return FCRA-compliant reports quickly.
As a Vermont Employer, How Can I Stay Compliant?
It is critical for Vermont employers to comply with all federal and state background check laws. If you don’t, you could be fined, penalized, and sued.
Follow these tips to remain compliant.
1. Avoid Asking About Criminal History During the Initial Application Phase
Do not ask people about their criminal records on their applications. Wait to ask candidates about criminal history information until you have determined that they appear to be qualified for the position and have had the opportunity for an interview.
2. Individually Assess Any Conviction
If you learn that an applicant has a criminal conviction on a pre-employment background check, you must individually assess it in relation to the job for which you are hiring.
3. Send a Notice of a Potential Adverse Hiring Decision
If you intend not to hire an applicant based on criminal conviction information, you must send a notice of your intent to make an adverse hiring decision. The applicant must be given a deadline for clarifying the information.
4. Send a Final Adverse Action Notice
If you decide to deny employment to an applicant after completing the adverse action process, you must send a final adverse action notice to the applicant. You must also send him or her a notice of his or her rights under the FCRA.
What Disqualifies You on a Background Check in Vermont?
Several factors can disqualify an applicant for employment on a background check. Some of the most common reasons why an applicant might be disqualified are listed below.
Criminal Convictions Directly Related to the Position
While not all criminal convictions will disqualify an applicant, a conviction that directly relates to the position for which he or she has applied can result in a denial. For example, a person applying to become a bank teller might be disqualified by a previous theft or embezzlement conviction.
Falsified Employment History
Some applicants falsify their employment history in the false belief that doing so will make it likelier that they will be hired. However, an employer that requests employment verification checks will quickly discover lies about an applicant’s past employment and will likely deny his or her application.
Falsified Education History
Like employment history, another common area in which some applicants lie is their educational history and attainment. An education verification check will show whether or not the applicant has been honest about the schools attended and degrees or diplomas earned.
People who are dishonest on their resumes are swiftly denied employment in most cases.
Bad Driving Record
Many jobs require employees to drive as one of their duties. If an applicant has several traffic violations or major traffic offenses on his or her driving record, the employer might be forced to deny employment because of liability and insurability issues.
Positive Results on a Pre-Employment Drug Test
Many Vermont employers ask candidates to submit to pre-employment drug tests as a condition of employment. If an applicant’s results are positive for an illegal drug, the employer will likely decide against hiring him or her.
How Much Does a Background Check Cost in Vermont?
If you submit a request to the Vermont Crime Information Center, you will have to pay a fee of $30 per report. This report will not provide you with all of the information you need, however.
You might find an online provider promising free background checks. Avoid these types of vendors. The information they return is unreliable and may violate the relevant background check laws, exposing you to potential liability.
It is best to work with a reputable, FCRA-compliant provider like iprospectcheck. We have comprehensive access to reliable databases and use the latest research techniques to return reliable, legally compliant, and accurate background check reports to our clients.
We offer a broad selection of reports from which you can choose so that you only pay for the information you require. If you expect to order 50 or more reports per year, we offer volume discounts. Contact us for a free quote.
How Long Does a Background Check Take in Vermont?
How long a background check might take in Vermont will depend on how you conduct it. If you try to submit requests to multiple agencies, employers, and institutions, it could take weeks.
The need to make sound and fast hiring decisions is a good reason to work with iprospectcheck. We can return background check reports in a matter of a few hours in many cases.
iprospectcheck: Your Trusted Partner for Fast, Accurate, Compliant Vermont Background Checks
Pre-employment background checks play a crucial role in a good hiring process. Conducting Vermont background checks for employment can reduce potential liability while protecting the safety of your clients and employees.
The professionals at iprospectcheck have broad access to reliable databases and have received substantial training in how to research background information to return up to date, FCRA-compliant, and reliable background check reports to our clients in Vermont.
Contact iprospectcheck today to learn how we might be able to help you: 888-808-9997
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.