Sunday, October 1, 2023

Will a Dismissed Case show up on your Background Check?

If a felony case is dismissed will it show up during a background check?

This question was posted recently on a popular Q&A site and we shared our take…

“In my experience, yes the case will show up. Now, the question is will that case show that it resulted in a dismissal? The answer here is, it should. The problem is that sometimes court records are not updated as frequently as they should be or dispositions (which a dismissal is) are not listed or recorded in a timely matter. That is why it is best for anyone who is looking for a job and has such a case in their history to check the court records first. If your dismissal is not recorded, you should do the following: request that the court update their records and obtain any documentation you can to verify the dismissal of your case. This way you can be proactive and provide this information to your potential employer before they discover it during the background check.”

Check out the original question and additional answers here!

Many people, especially those looking for a job, wonder exactly what will show up during a background check…and that is particularly true when it comes to criminal history.

Checking court records is a part of the vast majority of employment background checks. Good screening companies will access records directly from the courts to determine whether the applicant has a criminal history and will include those findings in their report.

If a criminal history is found, it can include: 

  • Cases were no disposition has been listed
  • Cases still pending disposition, often labeled as “Active” cases
  • Cases with a final disposition of guilty, not guilty, or dismissed

While these cases should be considered differently by employers, they will all be discovered during any good background check.

Learn more in “Do Not Guilty Cases show Up during a Background Check?”.

The question then becomes, what can and will be done with this information when it comes to the hiring process? 

There are clear parameters on how employers can consider a criminal record when making a hiring decision. One of the most important of these guidelines is that employers are to use only convictions, not arrests, to make their employment decision.

An arrest alone simply does not prove criminal conduct. It is important to keep in mind that excluding someone based on an arrest record that is not job related or necessary based on your business can violate an applicant's Civil Rights.

However, an employer may make an employment decision based upon the conduct underlying the arrest. The key is to substantiate the facts of the arrest and determine if the conduct that occurred renders an individual unfit for the position. In this instance, the conduct, not the arrest, is what is relevant.

In contrast, a conviction is a better indicator that a person engaged in illegal activity. 

And even when it comes to those convictions, not all crimes should be considered equal. As we have explained in previous blog articles, the EEOC has issued numerous guidelines on how those criminal records can fairly be used and the importance of fitting the background check to the job (see them here and here).

To be safe, employers should only consider convictions, not arrests when making their hiring decision. When you have evidence of a conviction (especially those verified through a quality background check company), you know the record is that of the applicant and you know the outcome of the case.

Only then can you make a truly fair and informed determination of the applicant’s suitability for the job.

Learn more in “Why Checking an Applicant’s Criminal Past should be about Conviction, not Arrests!”.

When it comes to what will be discovered during the background check, the bottom line is this ~ no matter what kind of criminal history information may be uncovered, most employers would do well to only consider convictions when making their employment decision. It is simply good business practice…and the best way to hire!

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