Background Checks and Testing

As with other employee records, the results of the tests you administer to applicants and employees should remain confidential and available only to those authorized to know the results.​

  • Checking Applicant References

    Checking Applicant ReferencesThough there isn’t a specific law requiring that you check a candidate’s references, courts have held employers liable for negligent hiring for certain acts of their employees, which the employer knew or should have known might occur.  More »

  • Physical Examinations Prior to Employment

    Physical Examinations Prior to EmploymentEmployers may not conduct physical examinations prior to making an offer of employment.   More »

  • Drug and Alcohol Tests For Applicants and Employees

    Drug and Alcohol Tests For Applicants and EmployeesCalifornia courts have drawn a distinction between the rights of job applicants and the rights of employees in the area of drug testing.   More »

  • Polygraphs and Lie Detector Tests

    Polygraphs and Lie Detector TestsThe Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 places stringent regulations on employers’ use of polygraphs, extremely limiting their usefulness.  More »

  • Written Honesty Tests

    Written Honesty TestsHonesty tests can be viable alternatives to lie detector tests, but you must administer them carefully due to current uncertainty as to how legislatures and courts will treat them.  More »

  • Psychological Tests

    Psychological TestsPsychological testing is rarely allowed. You must justify psychological testing by a compelling interest.   More »

  • Obtaining Applicant and Employee Credit Reports

    Obtaining Applicant and Employee Credit ReportsBoth federal and state laws restrict the use of credit information in the hiring process.  More »

  • Obtaining Investigative Consumer Reports

    Obtaining Investigative Consumer ReportsInvestigative consumer reports go further than credit reports by supplying information about the character, general reputation, personal characteristics and mode of living of the subject of the report.  More »

  • Obtaining Background Checks and Investigations by Employers

    Obtaining Background Checks and Investigations by EmployersYou can conduct an investigation, such as a background check, into an individual’s character, general reputation, personal characteristics or mode of living.  More »

  • Obtaining Criminal History

    Obtaining Criminal HistoryFor employers who must perform background checks that include criminal offender records, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) will only accept fingerprint images transmitted electronically.   More »

    ​Read about 2016 proposed regulations.
  • Investigating Employee Wrongdoing or Harassment

    Investigating Employee Wrongdoing or HarassmentThe 2003 Fair and Accurate Transactions Act permits third-party workplace investigations if they “are not for the purpose of investigating employee credit.”  More »

You must also use caution when conducting employee background checks. These background checks may be unlawful. HRCalifornia’s HR Library contains resources that will help you determine when you may, or may not, conduct background checks.