New Employment and Background Check Laws by State 13 Mar 2018


Definition of Background Check Laws by State: A criminal history background information check is governed by federal and state laws. Naturally, these background check laws vary by state.

With the new year comes a new crop of employment background check laws by state. In virtually every state in the nation, employers will need to familiarize themselves with new regulations, or risk violating the law.

Now, we are not going to give a detailed exposition of every local and state law taking effect in 2018. Rather, we thought we’d highlight a few of the prevailing legal trends that are appearing in different states. However, even if you don’t live in these states, familiarizing yourself with these laws can provide a valuable look at the legal movements that might someday impact you. Check out our Beyond FCRA: Top 5 Background Check Laws by State article to find out more!

Background Check Laws by State – California

Background Check Laws by State

Naturally, as anyone who has done business in California knows, there is no shortage of employment laws in this state. In keeping with this trend, there are numerous new laws taking effect in 2018. Some of them include:

  • In order to lessen the gender pay gap, employers may no longer ask applicants about their previous salary. If an applicant asks about the salary for a job, employers must give a pay range.
  • Organizations with more than five employees must post a notice about transgender rights. If there are more than 50 employees, training to address issues surrounding harassment based on gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation is required.
  • Marijuana may now be legal in California, but employers can still deny employment to those who use it recreationally.
  • The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) can investigate incidents of discrimination or retaliation even if no one files a complaint.

Background Check Laws by State – Illinois

Here’s an interesting new law that responds to some of the more exciting, and morally ambiguous, developments in genetics. The Genetic Information Privacy Act (GIPA) prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants or employees who do not share information about their genetic history. Moreover, this law applies to all employers in the state. Naturally, as genetic testing becomes more accurate and widely adopted, we may see these laws implemented in the country.

Background Check Laws by State – Maine

Background Check Laws by State

Sexual harassment in the workplace has become a major issue in recent months. For example, in November 2017, new requirements for sexual harassment training in the workplace were put in place throughout Maine. Essentially, this law requires organizations with more than 15 people to provide sexual harassment education for employees during their first year of employment. Also, employers must clearly post information about sexual harassment in the workplace. Furthermore, this information must include examples of how to file a complaint.

Background Check Laws by State – New York

As with California (and Massachusetts, for that matter), New York City has put a ban on inquiries into an applicant’s current or previous salary. This law went into effect late last year, as an amendment to New York City’s Human Rights Law. The other major piece of legislation being implemented this year is what is known as paid safe leave. It applies to those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking.

Outside of the city, the New York Assembly has passed a law that, as of Jan. 1, extends eligibility for Paid Family Leave to all employees working for private employers. This provides job-protected, paid time off to care for a newborn or adopted child, to care for a close relative or family member with a serious health problem, or to help a family member who is a deployed member of the armed services.

Background Check Laws by State – Vermont

Background Check Laws by State

Though it is the 49th smallest state, it’s worth paying attention to Vermont’s stance against using social media during the hiring process. If you are an employer, you may not ask, require, or force an applicant or an employee to give you any information about their social media accounts. (For example, you can’t ask them for their Twitter handle.) In addition, employers cannot, in any way, ask an employee to change account access information, bring up their social media accounts in their presence, or ask the employee to add them or anyone else to their contacts or following list.

As we said, this is not a complete rundown of all the new laws. There’s a lot that goes into running a small business, and no one expects you to be an expert in all the new regulations surrounding employment. A big reason organizations partner with background check agencies like Trusted Employees is that we can help you stay abreast of the most significant changes in employment law. This allows you to implement the best hiring practices while complying with the complex aspects of the law.