Previously in this three-part series, we discussed employer obligations concerning background checks furnished by investigative consumer reporting agencies. In this third and final segment, we highlight the requirements for California employers who do their own background checks without utilizing the services of a consumer reporting agency.
Public Records Searches and Disclosure Obligations. In the Internet age, many types of public records are instantly searchable. Employers who do their own public records searches (either on-line or using old fashioned techniques) must beware of a little-known California law. Civil Code Section 1786.53(a) provides broadly that any person who uses personal background information—even information that is a matter of public record—for employment purposes must provide that information to the consumer within 7 days. “Public records” are defined as records documenting an arrest, indictment, conviction, civil judicial action, tax lien or judgment.
Here’s the most peculiar twist: the obligation to provide the public records exists regardless of whether the employer obtained actual copies of public records or simply obtained a verbal summary of the contents.
- For example, an in-house researcher may give a verbal report that an applicant has convictions instead of obtaining hard copies of the court records. Does the employer have any disclosure obligations?