West Virginia business owners and HR professionals understand the importance of conducting background checks on job applicants.
A thorough employment background check allows employers to verify their applicants’ identities, education, past employment, licensure, and criminal records so that they can reduce their liability risks while hiring the right employees.
Did you know that a Wheeling, West Virginia woman was sentenced to federal prison for embezzling almost $350,000 from two former employers?
Conducting background checks in West Virginia can help you identify unqualified and dishonest candidates so that you can make smarter hiring decisions.
Based on our experience completing employment background checks in Charleston, Parkersburg, Morgantown, Huntington, and more, we wrote this guide for employers to use as a resource during the hiring process.
Let’s start now.
West Virginia Background Check Laws 
Employers in West Virginia must strictly comply with state and federal laws during their hiring processes.
The relevant laws are discussed below.
Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and protects the privacy of consumer information in the data collected, maintained, and reported by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs).
The FCRA also governs how information reported to employers on background checks can be used.
You are required to notify your prospective candidates that you intend to conduct employment background checks and obtain their written authorization before conducting them.
If you decide against hiring an applicant because of the information reported in a background check, you must follow the adverse action process under the FCRA before you make a final decision.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits workplace discrimination based on the protected characteristics of employees and applicants and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Title VII governs the employment background process when a background check report reveals an applicant’s criminal conviction.
According to EEOC guidance, you should assess any conviction individually as it relates to the position for which the applicant is under consideration before deciding against hiring him or her.
West Virginia State Laws
Social Media Privacy Law
Under W. Va. Code §21-5H-1, employers are prohibited from asking or coercing applicants and employees for their social media usernames and passwords, asking them to access their social media pages in the presence of the employers, or asking or compelling them to add the employers to their contact lists.
An employer is allowed to ask for passwords needed to access devices the employer has issued to an employee.
Expungement of Certain Criminal Records
People who have misdemeanor convictions or convictions for nonviolent felonies on their records are allowed to petition the court for expungement under W. Va. Code §61-11-26.
A person with one misdemeanor conviction can ask for an expungement one year after completing the sentence.
If the person has two or more misdemeanor convictions, he or she must wait for two years after completing their last sentence.
Finally, nonviolent felonies have a five-year waiting period following the completion of the sentences.
Expungement removes the record of the conviction from the public’s access, and employers cannot ask about or rely on expunged criminal convictions when making hiring decisions.
Medical Marijuana User Employment Protections
Under the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, applicants and employees who are registered medical marijuana users have some employment protections.
Under W.Va. Code §16A-15-4, employers may not discharge, refuse to hire, threaten, or discriminate against an applicant or employee solely on the basis that he or she is a registered medical marijuana user.
However, employers can prohibit employees from using medical marijuana at work.
How Do I Stay Compliant with Employment Laws in West Virginia?
If you don’t follow the state and federal employment background check laws, you could face penalties, fines, and lawsuits.
To stay compliant, follow the tips below.
1. Don’t Ask About Expunged Convictions
People who have expunged their misdemeanor or non-violent felony convictions are legally permitted to deny they occurred, and employers cannot rely on expunged convictions to make hiring decisions.
Expunged records won’t be reported on background check reports from iprospectcheck.
To stay compliant, don’t ask about them on your applications or during interviews.
2. Be Careful With Positive Marijuana Results
West Virginia’s medical marijuana laws prohibit discrimination against applicants and employees who are medical marijuana users.
If an applicant returns a positive test for marijuana, determine whether he or she might be a registered medical marijuana user before withdrawing a conditional offer of employment unless otherwise dictated by the laws in your industry.
3. Assess Convictions Individually
If you discover that a candidate has a criminal record, individually assess the conviction as it relates to the job for which you are considering the applicant.
Don’t make an adverse hiring decision without individually assessing the conviction, and avoid blanket policies against hiring applicants with criminal records.
4. Send a Pre-Adverse Action Notice
If you decide against hiring an applicant based on information on a background check report, send a pre-adverse action notice.
Identify the disqualifying background information and include a copy of the background check report with your notice.
Provide a deadline of a few days to allow the applicant to dispute the accuracy of the information or present evidence that the applicant has been rehabilitated.
5. Send a Final Adverse Action Notice
If you decide not to hire the applicant after you complete the adverse action steps, send a final adverse action notice.
You must include a copy of the applicant’s FCRA rights with your notice.
What Shows up on a Background Check for Employment in West Virginia?
The information that we might report on your employment background check in West Virginia will depend on the types of screens you request.
Most West Virginia employers ask for information about criminal records, education, employment, and credentials.
The following types of information might appear on an employment background check in West Virginia:
- Convictions that haven’t been expunged
- Pending criminal cases
- Arrests that resulted in non-expunged convictions
- Sex offender registry listing
- Employment history
- Address history
- Domestic Terrorist Watch List appearance
What might be revealed in these types of reports? Here are a few examples of what you might see.
Criminal Background Checks
If you ask for a criminal background check for a candidate who has non-expunged convictions, you will see the following types of information on your report:
- Date of offense
- Type of offense
- Severity of offense (misdemeanor or felony)
- Date of disposition
Information about expunged convictions will not be reported on your criminal background checks.
When you request an education verification report, you will see the following types of information:
- Name and location of each school, college, or university attended
- Attendance dates at each institution
- Diplomas, certificates, or degrees awarded
Education verification helps you to verify the claims your applicants have made about their educational qualifications and protect your company against potential negligent hiring liability.
If you ask for an employment verification report, you will see the following types of information about an applicant’s former jobs:
- Name and location of all past employers
- Employment dates at each company
- Titles and positions held
How Far Back Can a Background Check go in West Virginia?
How far back a West Virginia background check can go is controlled by the FCRA and West Virginia’s state laws.
The FCRA includes a seven-year time limitation for reporting the following types of information for jobs offering salaries of less than $75,000 per year:
- Civil lawsuits
- Civil judgments
- Arrests not leading to convictions
Jobs that pay more than $75,000 per year are not subject to the FCRA’s restrictions, however.
Under West Virginia’s expungement law, misdemeanor convictions can be expunged after one or two years, and non-violent felony convictions can be expunged after five years. Any information about expunged convictions will not be reported.
No matter how old the information might be, non-expunged convictions, educational history, credentials, and employment history will be reported and are not subject to federal or state time restrictions.
How to Conduct a Background Check in West Virginia
You can request a criminal record check from the West Virginia State Police Criminal Identification Bureau by having your applicants submit fingerprints through IdentGo Services and submitting their signed written authorization.
Employers in the child and adult services industries can request background checks through the West Virginia Department of Human Resources Bureau for Children and Families.
A criminal background check through the state will not reveal information about an applicant’s criminal records in different jurisdictions or other critical details about an applicant’s employment, education, credentials, and others.
Some West Virginia employers attempt to gather background information together by conducting online searches and sending requests to numerous institutions and agencies through a do-it-yourself approach to background checks.
This can be time-consuming and might return incomplete, inaccurate, and non-compliant information.
A better way to conduct pre-employment background checks is to work with a reputable provider like iprospectcheck.
We are a full-service employment background check company that always complies with the FCRA and returns comprehensive, up-to-date, and legally compliant reports to our West Virginia clients.
What Disqualifies You from a Background Check in West Virginia?
A number of things can disqualify an applicant on a background check.
Here are a few of the most common reasons.
1. Failing a Pre-Employment Drug Screen
Other than positive marijuana tests for registered medical marijuana users, applicants who return positive results on pre-employment screens will likely have their job offers withdrawn by their prospective employers.
2. Lying About Education
Some applicants lie about the schools they have attended and the degrees they have earned.
Employers that request education verification checks will see that the applicants have been dishonest and will likely deny employment to them.
3. Lying About Employment History
Many applicants fudge their employment dates or claim to have held positions with greater authority than what they had.
Employers that request employment verification checks can see when an applicant has been dishonest and will likely turn them down for employment.
4. Criminal Convictions Related to the Job
While a person with a criminal conviction will not necessarily be turned down for a job, an employer might deny employment when a conviction directly relates to the duties of the position.
Employers in certain industries might also have regulations that prohibit them from hiring people with certain types of criminal records.
5. Bad MVR Record
If a job requires driving as a part of the duties, an applicant with a poor driving record will likely be turned down for the job.
This is because an employer might not be able to insure an employee with a poor driving record, and the applicant might also place the employer at risk of lawsuits if he or she is hired and causes an accident.
How Much is a Background Check in West Virginia?
If you request a criminal background check from the state, you will have to pay $37.25 per report. However, this report will not include other crucial background information about your applicants.
If you search online, you might discover a vendor that offers free West Virginia background checks. You should steer clear of these types of vendors because they often return outdated, inaccurate, and non-compliant information that could expose you to legal liability.
The best approach is to partner with a background check provider like iprospectcheck. We offer a broad menu of different types of background check reports, and you can pick and choose only the ones that are relevant to you.
Our prices are affordable. If you will order 50 or more reports per year, take advantage of our volume discounts. Contact us today for a free quote.
How Long Does a West Virginia Background Check Take?
When you will receive the background information you need will depend on how you go about conducting your pre-employment screens.
If you go through the state, the process could take several weeks.
Similarly, trying a do-it-yourself approach could take multiple weeks to retrieve all of the relevant information.
If you instead choose to work with iprospectcheck, you will benefit from our extensive resources and training.
We are frequently able to return background check reports to our clients within a few hours.
iprospectcheck: Your Partner for Trusted Employment Background Checks in West Virginia
Employment background checks in West Virginia are critical for protecting workplace safety and preventing liability.
Many employers do not have the time or resources necessary to conduct comprehensive and FCRA-compliant background checks, however.
At iprospectcheck, we provide comprehensive, FCRA-compliant background check reports quickly to our clients in West Virginia.
To learn more about our background checks and clinical services and obtain a free quote, contact iprospectcheck today: 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.