Learn Everything about the 7-Year Rule
An employer may want to know more about potential employees for which he/ she may want to run a background check on the respective individual(s). While a simple letter of clearance is enough for some employers, there are those that may want to dig deeper into the past of the individual.
In such cases where an employer wants to know about a person’s say complete criminal or credit history, would it be possible to take a deeper look?
While laws on disseminating past information vary from state to state in the U.S., it is possible to find out if the subject has been involved in any criminal activity or financial subterfuge. This is the context to which the 7-year rule applies.
About the 7-Year Rule
The 7-year rule states that findings such as arrests, tax liens, civil suits, and judgments, should not be reported on one’s background check or consumer report if a period of 7 years has been completed since the sentence for the conviction.
When it comes to background checks and their influence on hiring decisions, in the Fair Credit Reporting Act or the FCRA that implements and manages the laws behind the checks. Though governed by the FCRA, it is required by the U.S. law that the 7-year rule be followed by federal, state as well as local law enforcement authorities.
The 7-year rule is the minimum rule that all states must implement in addition to any other rules they may have for overlooking the non-criminal past of an individual.
Applicability of the 7-Year Rule
Every state in the U.S. has to follow the 7-year rule for all non-criminal cases. Some states may extend the rule to include their own restrictions on background check reporting. States such as New York, California, and Kentucky, for example, have an additional law that requires any mention of non-convictions be completely omitted; pending charges can be reported though.
Applicability of the 7-Year Rule to Criminal Convictions
The 7-year rule is applicable to all states only for non-criminal convictions. When it comes to criminal convictions, the rule does not hold in many states.
In Maryland, Kansas, Washington, New Hampshire, and New York, the 7-year rule does not hold as it is. Criminals convictions are to be reported if the subject draws a stipulated amount of salary per year. In New York, this amount is above $ 25, 000 whereas it is above $20, 000 in other states mentioned above. Thus, if the subject draws more than $25, 000 or $20, 000 (depending on the state), the background check can carry details of his or her criminal convictions.
California, New Mexico, and Montana hold the 7-year rule. Criminal convictions of subjects are not reported, no matter the salary they draw each year.
Subject’s Permission Mandatory for Background Checks
The FCRA makes it mandatory for employers to send a notification and explanation to prospective employees on whom they want a background check. An employer can conduct a background check on an employee only after he or she has given consent.
The Risks of Obtaining Complete Information
While hiring based on a complete background check of the prospective employee may seem prudent, it may not be wise.
For one, the applicant may have transformed over the years and you may be losing an invaluable talent if you reject him or her based on the past.
Secondly, rejecting individuals based on their criminal history dating back to more than 7 years may invite the displeasure of the EEOC – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This body is for safeguarding the rights of applicants, and it may view a rejection based on a criminal history as discrimination and press legal charges against your business or company accordingly.