There are a number of ways for employers to gather information on the background of an applicant for employment. Employers may simply call an applicant's former employer to confirm the applicant's dates of employment and title and to try to obtain a more detailed reference from a supervisor. However, more and more frequently, employers are hiring third parties to conduct background checks on applicants who have been offered employment. In addition, depending on the nature of the position, employers are requesting reports about an applicant's driving record and criminal record. There are often legal limits on employers obtaining and using this type of information. In Oregon, employers must comply with federal and state laws relating to criminal background checks and driver's record information.
Oregon Job Applicant Fairness Act now prohibits employers from obtaining or using information in an individual's credit report for employment purposes, unless the information is substantially related to the individual’s current job or the job for which an applicant is seeking to be hired (OR Rev. Stat. Sec. 659A.030). When an employer determines that the information is job-related, a written assessment of the reasons must be provided to the individual whose credit will be checked. The Act also prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants or employees based on information in their credit histories. An affected applicant may file a civil action.
There are several groups exempt from the law, including federally insured banks and credit unions, law enforcement, and businesses that are required by law to conduct credit checks.