Applying for a job can be stressful enough without having to be concerned about whether your past can be a reason for employment denial. This is especially true of those who have a criminal past.
For those living in Texas, it is important to know that the 7-year rule applies to Texas background checks.
When an employer decides to run a background check, they have 2 options: run it themselves or hire an agency to do it for them. Most opt to hire a credit reporting agency. A typical background check returns information including:
- Identity verification
- Previous employment history
- Confirmation of educational background
- Driving history
- Credit history
- Criminal record
Texas background checks
It is actually quite common for employers to run background checks on a potential employee in Texas. It is thought that over 90 percent of American employers run background checks before hiring new employees.
In Texas, employers can be held liable in the event that their employee injures someone or damages property while on the job. If an employer fails to run a background check on the employee, this chance increases.
Furthermore, running a background check lets the employer know the information the applicant provided on their application was true.
Additionally, a background check can be a deciding factor in the hiring process. If an employer has 2 solid applicants and one has a criminal history, the employer will tend to choose the applicant who has a clean record.
This practice, however, can backfire.
Those who may have a criminal past and have paid their debt to society have a right to start over. Getting passed over for work can cause these people to resume criminal activities as a last resort.
This is where the 7-year rule comes in.
The 7-year rule is a federal law from the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that controls how background checks are used for hiring purposes. The 7-year rule for background checks is a way to give employers the security they desire while allowing for the needs of prospective employees who have a criminal past.
7-year rule and credit agencies
Employers have the right to perform their own background check on prospective employees. However, many opt to hire companies to do the work for them.
If an employer chooses to do their own background check, they have the freedom to take the history back as far as they like. However, the agencies most employers turn to are limited by the 7-year rule.
Texas 7-year rule exceptions
Texas has its own rules that provide exceptions to the 7-year rule.
For jobs that have a yearly salary of $75,000 or more, employers are allowed to check the applicant’s record as far back as age 18, which could be longer than 7 years. The same is true for those seeking employment with an insurance company. Applicants for state and local government jobs can also have checks run to their 18th birthday, regardless of the year span.
For those seeking jobs that would require them to enter people’s homes (like a plumber or electrician) or for residential delivery (i.e. FedEx or UPS), employers are required to check 10 years for misdemeanor history and 20 for felony history.
Beneficial exceptions for job applicants
For those who accepted deferred adjudication or probation and then the charge was dismissed, the ruling wouldn’t show up on a criminal record, even if it was less than 7 years prior.
In the case of those filling out applications that specifically ask about criminal convictions, if the applicant doesn’t enter a guilty or no contest plea — or receive a criminal conviction — then the applicant’s arrest is not considered proof of criminal conduct.
All minor criminal records (those under 18) in Texas are sealed. If an applicant was convicted of a crime before they turned 18, then the 7-year rule would bar an employer from gathering information about the applicant’s criminal record.
Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects ethnic and racial groups from employer discrimination through background checks. If someone feels a potential employer has used their race or ethnicity to require a background check, they can file a complaint with the EEOC.