一个人的背景会影响他或她有效、可靠、安全甚至合法地完成工作的能力。例如，有酒驾和驾照吊销历史的人在涉及驾驶的工作角色中是一种责任 。 注册的性犯罪者 不能合法从事涉及与孩子一起工作的工作。对于需要 特定教育学位 或 专业执照 的工作，雇主尽职调查过程的一部分是确保顶尖候选人具备这些必要的资格。背景调查可以揭示所有这些信息以及更多信息。
重要的是要了解雇主进行背景调查的权利不是无限的。求职者和雇员也有权利。例如，根据 《公平信用报告法》(FCRA)，雇主在进行就业前背景调查或根据背景调查结果做出招聘决定时必须遵循许多准则。 必须在潜在员工充分了解并获得他们的书面同意的情况下进行合规的 FCRA 背景调查。
如果候选人因背景调查而被拒绝，雇主必须提供报告副本，向候选人提供有关准备背景调查报告的公司的详细信息，并让候选人有机会对调查结果的准确性提出异议，除其他要求外。不遵守 FCRA 合规指南可能会导致雇主面临代价高昂的诉讼——通常是集体诉讼。
FCRA 并不是唯一规定雇主可以或不能对背景调查做什么的法律。该国的许多地方 已经禁止盒式立法，该立法要求从工作申请中删除犯罪历史问题，并且经常将背景调查推迟到有条件的就业机会发出之后。
一些司法管辖区禁止 在招聘过程中使用 信用记录检查。关于雇主是否可以在招聘时考虑逮捕历史的规则在 全国范围内各不相同。和 平等就业机会委员会（EEOC）建议 ，雇主考虑每一个背景检查对案件逐案的基础上，只有当他们的犯罪历史是手头的工作明确拒绝有关的候选人。
The simplest answer to this question is, yes. Background checks are standard in many situations from employers screening potential hires to landlords vetting prospective tenants. However, the legality of background checks is often more complex than a simple yes or no answer.
When they are structured and conducted in accordance with relevant regulations and guidance, background checks are an effective and fair way of providing more information on an applicant. If a background check oversteps those boundaries, it becomes a violation of compliance, an invasion of privacy, and even grounds for legal action.
To understand the difference between a legal and an illegal background check, consider background checks in the context of employment. Most often, when employers run background checks, they are using them to vet potential candidates for open positions. Employers are at liberty to require a background check as a prerequisite for employment.
A person’s background can impact his or her ability to perform a job effectively, reliably, safely, or even legally. For instance, someone with a history of DUIs and license suspensions is a liability in a job role that involves driving. A registered sex offender cannot legally hold a job that involves working with kids. And for jobs in which specific educational degrees or professional licenses are required, it is part of the due diligence process for an employer to make sure that top candidates have those necessary qualifications. Background checks can reveal all this information and more.
It is important to understand that an employer’s rights to run background checks are not limitless. Job applicants and employees have rights, too. Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), for instance, employers must follow numerous guidelines when conducting pre-employment backgrounds or making hiring decisions based on background check findings. A compliant FCRA background check must be conducted with the full awareness of the prospective employee and with their written consent.
If the candidate is rejected based on a background check, the employer must provide a copy of the report, provide the candidate with details about the company that prepared the background check report, and give the candidate a chance to dispute the accuracy of the findings, among other requirements. Failure to adhere to FCRA compliance guidelines can lead to costly lawsuits—often class action—for employers.
The FCRA is not the only law dictating what employers can or cannot do with background checks. Numerous parts of the country have ban the box legislation, which mandates the removal of criminal history questions from job applications and often delays the background check until after a conditional employment offer has been made.
Some jurisdictions ban the use of credit history checks in the hiring process. Rules on whether employers can consider arrest histories in hiring vary nationwide. And the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends that employers consider every background check on a case-by-case basis, only rejecting candidates if their criminal histories are expressly relevant to the job at hand.