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Employer Background Checks in California

How to properly conduct a background check on a California employee.

California has two statutes governing background checks: (1) the Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA), and (2) the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (CCRAA).Investigative Consumer Reports (ICRAA)The ICRAA notice requirements are more extensive than under the FCRA.[1] Specifically, employers must provide a "clear and conspicuous" notice stating:

  • (1) That an investigative report may be obtained, including the purpose of the report,
  • (2) That the report "may include information on the consumer's character, general reputation, personal characteristics, and mode of living,"
  • (3) The name, address, telephone number, and web address of the screening company,
  • (4) A summary of the individual's rights to see and copy any report, and
  • (5) A box which the individual can check to receive a copy of the report.[2]
  • (6) If the employee indicates that he or she wants a copy of the report, the report should be sent either by the employer or screening company within three business days of the date the employer receives it.[3]

The ICRAA also applies to employers who conduct the background check themselves as opposed to using an outside agency (unlike the federal FCRA). In such cases, the detailed disclosure above is not required, but the employer must include a box on the job application allowing the applicant/employee to indicate that he or she wants a copy of any public records obtained in the investigation.[4]Note that California employers may not seek information about any offense not resulting in a conviction,[5] or about conviction for possession, transportation or sale of 28.5 grams or less of marijuana which occurred two years or more from the date of the application.[6]Consumer Credit Reports (CCRAA)Credit reports are not included in the ICRAA definition of "investigative consumer report." Credit reports may only be requested for certain job positions, including managerial job positions.[7]Under the CCRAA, before requesting a consumer credit report, an employer must provide a written notice that identifies the basis for use of the report, informs the person of the source of the report, and provides a box that the person may check to receive a copy of the credit report.[8]When taking adverse action against an individual based on information contained in an investigative consumer report or a consumer credit report, the California rules are the same as the rules under the federal FCRA.[9]If you're a lawyer or legal aid provider who wants to create an automated background check platform for your jurisdiction, go to for HelpSelf's Document Automation Builder software.______________________________________________________________________[1] Cal. Civ. Code § 1786, et seq.[2] Cal. Civ. Code § 1786.16.[3] Cal. Civ. Code § 1786.16.[4] Cal. Civ. Code § 1786.53.[5] Cal. Lab. Code § 432.7.[6] Cal. Lab. Code § 432.7.[7] Cal. Lab. Code § 1024.5.[8] Cal. Civ. Code § 1785.20.5.[9]See Cal. Civ. Code § 1785.20.5.

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