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, criminal record, and/or credit history. There are often legal limits on employers obtaining and using this type of information. When employers hire a third party to conduct a background check or obtain reports from outside agencies, such reports are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and state laws. In Idaho, employers must comply with the Fair Employment Practices Act.
There is no state law prohibiting the use of arrest and/or conviction records in employment decisions. In fact, criminal background checks are required by federal and/or state law for certain types of jobs. However, the Idaho Human Rights Commission (IHRC) takes the position that it may be a violation of the state Fair Employment Practices Act
for an employer to make an inquiry about any arrest or conviction that is not substantially job-related (ID Code Sec. 67-5901 et seq.
). The IHRC has published a guide
to help employers conduct legal job interviews. In the guide, it cautions employers that a criminal conviction may or may not be relevant to a particular job. The guide states that an employer should not automatically ...