Ali Gordon | 23 April, 2021

Have you ever suspected that your background check results are preventing you from being hired? Background screenings can occur at many phases of a hiring process, but no matter when the check is done, it’s important to remember that candidates still have some say in the situation. 

Sometimes not only can you dispute the results of your background check, but you probably should! Note that if you choose to dispute the results, that process should happen as soon as you notice the error and can notify the employer. Here are some scenarios where this is appropriate.

When You Think Results Are Inaccurate

If a prospective employer notifies you that something has appeared on your background check and disqualified you from a position--and you believe the information to be inaccurate--you should dispute those results. You may even be able to ask to view the results yourself. Errors can occur from issues like misidentification, faulty records from a school registrar or other institution, or an unqualified background check service. Many companies are expected to correct the report within 30-60 days, and sometimes it can be useful to speak with an employment lawyer if you think a hiring violation was involved in the error.

When You Think A Company Has Committed Hiring Negligence

Hiring violations occur when a company does not follow proper legal procedures regulating federal and state hiring practices. This can happen with a background check too. For instance, this could be improper adherence to the Fair Credit Reporting Act or failure to gain consent prior to running a background check. Employers must follow mandates to treat employees and prospective employees according to all applicable employment laws. 

If you think you have experienced hiring negligence and the result is wrong information on a background check--or a background check that’s been run illegally--those are other important times to file a dispute. You may also be able to file a civil suit if the situation caused you damage. These scenarios have resulted in companies like Uber, Target, Amazon, and Avis paying hefty penalties and fines. Advocating for yourself and gaining the legal support you may need are important to keep companies accountable and ensure you have an accurate record.  

When You Think Hiring Discrimination Has Occured

Sometimes the results on a background check are accurate, but the way a prospective employer uses the results or the process they follow to make hiring decisions based on results are illegal. Most often, these are cases of discrimination, and these situations could fall under Equal Employment Opportunity violations or state employment law violations like “ban-the-box laws.” 

While discrimination certainly happens on the basis of identity such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, it can also happen for reasons related to criminal history that may appear on a background check. If an employer violates these laws, you have every right to dispute the check and possibly even take further action.

For example, Colorado has passed some of the most progressive equal employment laws in the country--resulting in legislation that seals certain kinds of criminal records or requires employers to do more work to understand a candidate’s record before disqualifying them from a job. Forbes reported that some of these legislative steps have improved candidates’ chances at hire by 11%: “Colorado was the very first state to pass a law that requires employers and other parties to take an extra step when fingerprint-based criminal record checks turn up arrests…[The law] mandates a look at judicial criminal records when fingerprint-based checks uncover an arrest to confirm whether an individual was actually convicted of a crime.” In other states, employers must utilize a clear process for how they reject a candidate if they use criminal records to make that decision. 

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