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There is a common saying that “everything is bigger in Texas,” and this is certainly true for its expansive job market. Because Texas does not have personal, state, property, or corporate taxes, it is a magnet for business owners and job-seekers alike. Along with its cultural and natural diversity, Texas also offers some of the broadest employment opportunities, with healthcare, technology, construction, and transportation being some of the leading industries enjoying booming growth in the Lone Star State today.
If you’re an employer, hiring manager, or volunteer administrator in the state of Texas, you’re probably fully aware of the benefits and amenities the state provides to ensure healthy business growth and success. However, do you know about the importance of making a Texas background check part of your pre-hire process? If not, you owe it to yourself and the ongoing good fortune of your enterprise to understand the inner workings of obtaining a background check in Texas for employment for new hires. Please read further for answers and details about how the state approaches pre-screening checks and learn about Texas law on background checks for hiring.
What is a Background Check?
Background checks are a way of determining whether or not someone is who they say they are. In Texas, a background check may also be used to find out whether or not an applicant has had any altercations with the law, which may interfere with their work performance if hired.
How To Get a Criminal Background Check in Texas
The Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) manages all background checks in the state of Texas. The TDPS operates the state’s Conviction Database, which curates all public criminal records pulled from the Computerized Criminal History (CCH) system. CCH is a vast database containing all the state’s criminal records, but only qualified law enforcement and criminal justice agencies can access it.
The Texas Department of Public Safety or the Texas Office of Court Administration oversees public records, such as criminal histories and court records. Organizations can request copies by going through the appropriate channels. Therefore, employers can request a criminal background check in Texas from TDPS by going directly to their website, or visiting one of their physical offices.
While many companies take on the responsibility of a background check themselves, PreSearch is a great alternative. Our third-party company can do the heavy lifting and provides information that you would never have access to on your own. We’ll examine all possible sources of an applicant’s history before we render any conclusions. Moreover, conducting a Texas background check on your own will only provide public records, whereas PreSearch can provide far more details, including national criminal records, social security and name trace records, identity verification, and much more. More importantly, PreSearch provides accurate, fast background searches while remaining wholly compliant with federal and Texas background check laws.
Common Reasons Why Employers Find Background Checks Helpful
Depending on what kind of job position you are trying to fill, your reasons for using services for background checks may vary from other employers. For instance, if your business is in the transportation industry and you are screening for drivers within your company, it’s clearly a good idea to conduct a check on an applicant’s driving record.
Almost all employers want to confirm an applicant’s employment history in order to confirm he or she has received prior training in their specialized field. In addition to obtaining employment history, a background check can also be used for confirming educational background and determining if an applicant has received the degree, diploma, certifications, etc., that they may claim on a resume or application.
In some cases, such as when a pre-hire might be handling a company’s finances, an employer may want to conduct a credit history check. This can be revealing and helpful in terms of determining whether or not the applicant might be trustworthy with your business’s financial assets.
Of course, a criminal background check shouldn’t be overlooked when considering new applicants. Most employers opt to have a Texas criminal background check to ensure the position offered to the applicant does not pose a conflict should he or she have negative marks on their criminal record. There are still other employers who have good reason to obtain a background check for trusted employees, which is a type of check that is tailored for employees who will be working with vulnerable segments of society, such in the medical, eldercare, or childcare industry.
Texas Background Check Laws
Now that we’ve discussed some reasons to get a background check for pre-hires you might be wondering about Texas background check laws. While Texas laws for conducting background checks are not as stringent as some other states, such as California, there are rules that must be followed. Failure to comply with state and federal laws can lead to lawsuits, fines, penalties, and a slew of problems for any business owner. Here is a rundown of common laws every employer or hiring manager should know while engaging in the pre-screening process.
Federal Background Check Laws
In addition to adhering to Texas state laws, employers must also abide by federal laws when looking into an applicant’s background. Here are some of the most important federal laws to consider during the pre-hire process.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA
The Fair Credit Reporting Act was proposed in 1969 to protect consumers. The Act gives consumers the right and ability to dispute incorrect data on their credit reports. The FCRA also regulates how employers can carry out background checks on applicants or employees, and how they can view results. The Fair Credit Reporting Act also oversees how employers gather information, what types of credit information can be obtained, and how employers are permitted to use this information in the pre-hire process. The overarching theme of the FCRA is that it doesn’t stop Texas employers from carrying out background checks; rather, employers must follow its guidelines when doing so.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964
This is a law against discrimination in hiring. The law prohibits discriminating on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, or ethnicity – to name a few. Also, if an employee complains about discrimination at work or participates in a discrimination lawsuit, their employer’s hands are tied, in that they cannot retaliate. Essentially, this law protects applicants from being discriminated against based on personal characteristics as well as protects people from defending others who have been discriminated against.
Federal Ban-the-Box Restrictions
The federal Ban the Box law, also recognized as the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act, was created by the federal government to forbid employers and contractors from asking about potential employees’ criminal histories on their job applications before they have been offered a position. This means that since the law was enacted in December 2020, employers and contractors may not ask about an applicant’s criminal history before they’ve been offered a job.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with enforcing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other legislation as it relates to discrimination in workplaces. Workplace anti-discrimination laws are enforced by two organizations, the Civil Rights Center and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Employers and hiring managers should comply with these regulations to avoid being fined for violations, or else face penalties or legal action from the U.S. federal government.
State Background Check Laws
Texas employers should be aware of the laws that limit their ability to access or misuse information from background checks that are not job-related. This can help ensure compliance with federal, state and local regulations for background checks. Here are a few other tips for state-related laws when conducing pre-screening functions.
Ban the Box Law in Texas
To date, there are no statewide ban-the-box laws in Texas. However, some regions might have fair chance hiring regulations that could stop an employer from asking you to provide your criminal history on a state form.
Currently, San Antonio, Travis County, and Dallas County all have bans on asking about criminal histories for city or county positions. In Austin, employers must wait until after an applicant is offered a job before checking into their criminal history. There is a $500 fine for any violations of this rule.
Current and Past Arrests and Convictions
In many states, employers cannot consider arrest records, but in Texas, they are legally allowed to. This means that, in the state of Texas, employers can inquire about arrests and convictions for job applicants. The only limitation is that employers cannot inquire into the person’s arrest or conviction information if it has been expunged from the public record.
Numerous US human rights groups take issue with the use of arrest histories as a consideration for hiring. The argument is that arrests do not prove guilt and must not be used in any way that would disqualify a job seeker. Employers are encouraged to find out whether an arrest led to a charge or conviction, specifically.
PreSearch is committed to helping you avoid pitfalls when attaining qualified workers for employment. We are fully versed in the Texas background check laws, and will help you along every step of the way with your pre-hire process.
How Far Back Does a Background Check Go in Texas
According to the 7 year rule background check, Texas employers can be restricted to investigating seven years prior to an applicant’s criminal background history – any activity prior to seven years is typically not permitted to use, depending on the crime. However, there are some caveats to this lookback rule.
If a prospect is applying for a position that pays more than $75,000 annually, then under Texas law (TX Bus. Code Sec. 20.05), the employer has the legal right to check the applicant’s records from eighteen years of age and up.
Furthermore, employers should keep in mind that court records are not made public when a person is 18 years or younger. Therefore, an employer will likely not see any criminal convictions incurred before a minor turns 18.
If you, as an employer, choose to hire a third-party service to conduct their background or credit checks, the seven-year rule applies. As consumer reporting agencies are subject to both federal and state regulations and limitations, the newly hired person should not have committed any of the prohibited actions during the past seven years. So if you are wondering how far back does a background check go in Texas, the standard answer is seven years, with some exceptions.
What Shows Up on a Background Check in Texas
If you are wondering what shows up on a background check in Texas, you might be interested to know that Texas provides ample leeway when it comes to employers accessing public records for the pre-screening process. Employers have access to public information, such as criminal and civil court records, sex offender records, and any information on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Court records provide insight into a potential candidate’s litigiousness, while other public records help identify what positions an applicant may be a good fit for. Social media posts can reveal details about a potential applicant that employers find relevant. However, employers are prohibited from using social media or public record information they discover to discriminate against an applicant for any reason that is protected by state or federal law. Other information that is available to Texas employers when conducting pre-screening checks may include:
- Criminal Convictions
- Pending Criminal Cases
- History of Incarcerations
How Much Can Background Checks Cost in the State of Texas?
If you opt to obtain a fingerprint-based criminal history background check from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the fee is $15 per request. Please bear in mind that this information will only provide you with the criminal history that has taken place in Texas. It will not provide you with essential information such as educational history, employment history, and other useful information to help you formulate the best choice for new hires. Therefore, delegating background checks to your human resources department or doing checks yourself could amount to a significant amount of man-hours while gathering up all the information. This equates to a substantial cost. A far better option is to team with PreSearch which offers affordable background checks for the state of Texas in a timely manner with accurate results.
*a select number of states charge an additional, mandatory, county court fee in addition to our standard service fee.
How Long Does a Background Check Take in Texas
The answer to how long does a background check take in Texas is contingent upon how you conduct your background check. Texas Department of Safety criminal history reports can take days or weeks to process. Also, if you opt for the do-it-yourself route for Texas background checks, it’s worth noting that background checks can take up an extraordinary amount of time. From calling previous employers to checking educational institutions – contacting references, and waiting for state-generated checks – all of this can take days, if not weeks.
This is when PreSearch is your best solution. We provide you with quick background checks that are compliant with Texas and federal laws. Furthermore, our background checks are accurate, current, and thorough, which is a standard that is hard to achieve when going it on your own.
PreSearch Can Help
Background check compliance can seem confusing, and it’s easy for companies to take the wrong step. Thankfully, PreSearch is here to help guide you. We’ll streamline the process by providing thorough background checks, as well as helpful tips and industry best practices.
At PreSearch, we’re always looking to provide industry-leading background checks for Texas and all 50 other states. You can count on our quick, accurate, and reliable results that will position you in an admirable position of being fully informed and best equipped to find the best fit for your business or organization.
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