Employment Background Checks: What You Need to Know


Finding a new job in Oregon is no walk in the park. From filling out applications and writing cover letters, to rounds of interviews, and finally (hopefully) getting an offer. 

However, there’s still one more thing you need to check off the list before you’re in the clear: the background check.

Here in Portland and throughout Oregon and the US, employment background checks are common. One survey found that 98% of businesses perform pre-employment background checks on candidates. Not to mention some companies will even conduct background checks when giving a promotion!

As a job candidate, do you know what a background check includes and how the results can affect your candidacy? More importantly, do you understand your rights and the laws surrounding background checks in Oregon?

In this article, we’ll explore and provide answers to all these questions and more! 

Worried about a past arrest or conviction showing up on your background check? Get your record expunged!

What is a Background Check?


Background checks, which can also be known as background screenings or pre-employment screenings, are intended to provide companies with a better understanding of whether or not a candidate meets their specific hiring criteria. Some companies choose to conduct these screenings in-house, while others will hire a background check company to do the job.

In order to conduct a background check, the employer will at minimum need your full name and date of birth. You may also need to provide your social security number or driver’s license number. 

An employer must always gain your permission before conducting a background check. 

Furthermore, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, an employer must notify you of any adverse action as a result of your background check results, and provide you with a copy of the report.

Why Do Employers Conduct Background Checks?

Some Federal and Oregon laws require background checks for certain jobs, for instance when working with children, elderly, or the disabled. However, there are other reasons an employer may choose to do a background check, including:

  • Liability limitation
  • Customer assurance
  • Security
  • Identity verification
  • Protection from negligent hiring lawsuits and corporate scandals
  • Fraudulent credential identification

What is Included in an Employment Background Check Report?

The amount of information included in your background check will depend on your employers specific criteria. However, common details uncovered during an employment background check include:

  • Education
  • Employment history
  • Motor vehicle and license records
  • Civil records
  • Criminal records
  • Drug test records

One thing that will never appear on your background check? Your political affiliation.


Does a Background Check Include a Credit Check?


Here in Oregon, credit checks are only permissible if there is a significant relationship between the credit history and the position’s duties and qualifications. According to the law, credit history information is considered job-related if:

  • Part of the job responsibilities are to access financial information that goes beyond that which is typically provided in a retail transaction.
  • The position requires the employer to obtain credit history as a condition of obtaining insurance or a surety or fidelity bond.

In all other cases, employers are prohibited from obtaining an applicant’s (or current employee’s) credit history information.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Oregon employers are not allowed to seek or obtain an applicant's salary history until after a job offer has been extended and compensation has been proposed.


Do I Legally Have to Provide My Social Media Login Credentials for a Background Check?


Your social media information is not disclosed during a pre-employment screening. However some employers will do their own background research and look at your social presence during the hiring process. Employers hit a roadblock though when they encounter a social account marked as private.

Here in Oregon, it is unlawful for employers to force applicants (or employees) to provide access to their protected/private social media accounts. Additionally, an employer cannot force you to login to your private social media accounts in their presence.


Will a Speeding Ticket Show Up On an Employment Background Check?

As mentioned above, background checks do provide information about your driving records. However, even if you have one or two speeding tickets on your record, this shouldn’t hurt your candidacy unless your job requires driving.

Other driving infractions, though, can be more problematic. For instance, a DUII. 


Can an Employer Legally Ask About My Criminal Record?


Thanks to the “Ban the Box” law, it is illegal for Oregon employers to ask job applicants to provide criminal history information on a job application. However, an employer can consider your criminal record during or after an interview, or after a conditional offer of employment is made. 

No current legislation prohibits criminal background checks as part of the employment process.

Does a Criminal Record Mean I Can’t Get a Job?

A background check will reveal your criminal record. Whether or not this information will affect a hiring decision will vary, as there are both federal and state protections for applicants with criminal records. 

However, even with these protections in place, most employers are able to make a valid case against hiring individuals with a criminal record. Especially those with multiple convictions on their record or those with felonies.


Clear Your Record, Pass Your Employment Background Check

When you’re searching for a job, you shouldn’t have to worry about how the past may come back to haunt you. Put your best foot forward and get the position you want by clearing your record.

We help our clients with Oregon expungement cases so they can pass their employment background checks with flying colors. After an expungement, a conviction won’t show up on your employment background check. We can help you clear your record and get a fresh start. 

Don’t let a criminal record prevent you from moving forward in your career!

Use our free tool to check your eligibility for expungement.