关于背景调查可以追溯到多远，没有一个简单的答案。没有联邦法律限制雇主在进行犯罪历史筛查时可以看到过去多远 。公平信用报告法 (FCRA) 定义和规范了雇主背景调查程序的许多步骤，但对犯罪背景调查范围保持沉默。
一些州对背景调查可以查看的年份设置了上限。九个州限制背景调查公司只允许他们报告过去七年的刑事定罪：加利福尼亚州、堪萨斯州、马里兰州、马萨诸塞州、蒙大拿州、新罕布什尔州、新墨西哥州、纽约州和华盛顿州。内华达州有七年的定罪报告限制，但使限制可执行的法律 于 2015 年被废除。
这些七年规则不是绝对的：如果他们以一定的薪水填补职位空缺，受影响州的雇主可以进一步追溯一个人的犯罪历史。在加利福尼亚州，如果这份工作的薪酬为 125,000 美元或更多，员工背景调查可以回顾过去 10 年的犯罪历史。在华盛顿，七年规则的收入例外从 20,000 美元的薪水开始。其余七个州的年薪为 25,000 美元。
即使雇主可以随心所欲地回顾候选人的犯罪历史，但这并不意味着旧的定罪应该与新的定罪具有相同的分量。作为背景调查指南的一部分，平等就业机会委员会 (EEOC) 鼓励雇主考虑自定罪以来经过的时间长度以及此后是否还有其他定罪。例如，一个 30 岁的袭击定罪与三个月前的袭击定罪相比，与工作的相关性并不大。
how far back does a background check go? For an employer, knowing the answer can help you form a better understanding of how a person’s past—particularly their criminal record—impacts their job chances. For a job seeker with a criminal record, knowing how far back background checks go can impact employment factors ranging from disclosures to job chances.
There is not a simple answer regarding how far back a background check goes. No federal law limits how far into the past employers can look when conducting criminal history screenings. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which defines and regulates many steps of the background check process for employers, is silent regarding criminal background check reach.
Under federal law, background checks can go as far back as there is information to report. However, laws do limit the scope of employee background checks.
Some states put a cap on the number of years back that a background check can look. Nine states restrict background check companies by allowing them only to report criminal convictions from the past seven years: California, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, and Washington. Nevada has a seven-year conviction reporting limit, but the law that made the limitation enforceable was repealed in 2015.
Some other states have seven-year rules, too, but they do not apply to criminal history. For instance, Texas has a seven-year rule on the books, but it only applies to credit reporting agencies running credit checks—not employers looking into the criminal backgrounds of their job applicants.
These seven-year rules are not absolute: employers in the affected states can look further back into a person’s criminal history if they are filling a position with a certain salary. In California, employee background checks can look back at the last 10 years of criminal history if the job will pay $125,000 or more. In Washington, an income exception to the seven-year rule starts at a $20,000 salary. The seven remaining states start their income exceptions at $25,000 in annual pay.
Even if employers can look back as far as they please into a candidate’s criminal past, that doesn’t mean older convictions should carry the same weight as newer ones. As part of its background check guidance, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) encourages employers to consider the length of time that has passed since a conviction and whether there have been any additional convictions since. For example, a 30-year-old assault conviction isn’t as relevant to a job as an assault conviction from three months ago.
Especially if a candidate has had a clean criminal record since, an old conviction typically does not indicate a relevant or current pattern of behavior. For that reason, employers should not use old convictions as an automatic barrier to employment. Some states maintain laws that limit the reach of background checks to ensure a fair chance for applicants.
At backgroundchecks.com, we follow all the laws and regulations in states where our clients do business. Employers with questions about how far back background checks can go can simply contact us and ask.