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Background check procedure -- California California

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  • Background check procedure -- California California

    What can an HR department legally tell a background check company about an employee in California? And furthermore, what is the norm?

    In particular, if HR departments are legally allowed to tell background check companies that an employee was terminated, would most HR departments release this information? Or, would most companies just divulge the dates someone worked at a place, along with the salary, and title?

  • #2
    As answered on your other question, yes, the employer can legally make any statement to pretty much anyone that they legally think is true. I understand that it is a strongly held believe to the contrary in some circles, but one for which the rest of us are still waiting for the first documented court case, law, or regulation to the contrary.

    Now you also asked about the "norm", which is arguably a better question. The "norm" is all over the place. Of my last four employers, one did not care what was done, one was pretty much no-comment to anyone, and the other two where HR was allowed to talk to people but no one else was. Now that is 4 employers out of several million. Several had in house legal departments (not coincidental the two that wanted HR only talking to people). The concern was with large companies was not supervisors/managers telling the truth but supervisors/managers telling something other then the truth. An employer deliberately making a false statement can get an employer into trouble. An employer saying nothing, or saying what they believe to be true cannot get the employer into trouble. If only HR talked to third parties, then HR could make very sure that nothing was said that the employer did not have a good reason to believe was true. Not 100% proved in a court of law true. The libel/slander laws do not require this. Saying that Bobbie was a bad employee is an opinion and almost impossible to legally be considered slander. Saying that Bobbie is a drug dealer is something very different legally. A good HR department knows what they can legally say and what they legally cannot say. A bad HR department can at least say nothing. However line supervisors/managers generally do not know the rules and that is why most companies do not want them making these types of decisions for the employer.

    Still there are millions of employers out there and many, many different ways of handling this problem. For employers who do not know the law and do not want to learn the law, saying nothing is safest. Not legally necessary, but safest.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


    • #3
      Well then, how is an employee supposed to protect himself in future background checks if a manager says, "Don't worry, I'll give you a good recommendation and only divulge when you worked here," and HR, who is distant from this particular office, says "You were terminated in our records." I can't risk being fired from a job because of this, and I don't know what to do. At this point, it's too late to go back and rescind what I said on the background check form, that "got offered another job."

      I did, indeed, get offered another job. Is the aforementioned statement broad enough that, if I'm asked about the discrepancy between the info I provided and the info the BG check digs up, that I could say, "well I got offered another job, I never said I did or did not get terminated."


      • #4
        You should always tell the truth on employment applications/forms. You are more likely to get the job & not get fired than if you lied.
        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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