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Background Screenings and Texas Privacy Protection

This guest post is contributed by Rebecca Gray, who writes for She welcomes your comments at her email id: GrayRebecca14 at gmail dot com.

Please note the information in this post does not constitute legal advice.

While background screenings yield valuable information about potential employees, there is only so much digging allowed; protecting applicants from intrusive probing, while still furnishing important considerations and character references HR professionals need.  In Texas, screening guidelines are clear, deferring to federal standards in some cases.

Texas Notification Laws

The federal privacy standard holds in Texas, with no state-specific laws on the books regarding background check notification. In short, organizations looking into your past must let you know they are doing so, and they must keep you informed about how the results of your screening are used.  For example, job applicants maintain certain rights when information gleaned from background checks influences hiring decisions.

Applicants excluded from jobs based on findings from pre-employment background checks are legally entitled to an explanation, so employers are required to identify the specific features of each report that fails to meet their employment standards.  Applicants who feel unjust claims have been made by reporting agencies are also legally empowered to challenge the information deemed inaccurate.

Texas Timeframes Limit Use of Information

For most jobs in Texas, or at least those falling below certain salary levels, the shelf-life for background check information about arrests and convictions is seven years.  That means crimes and arrests taking place more than seven years in the past cannot be considered.

Texas’ inclusion of convictions distinguishes the state’s policy from some other state background check laws, which only account for arrests.  For certain high-paying jobs, Texas employers are not restricted by the same seven-year timeline, giving them legal grounds to go back further into a job candidate’s history.

Texas Laws Compared to Other States

Since the way background checks are regulated varies from state to state, it is important to recognize some distinctions present in Texas. Special exceptions identify particular crimes or circumstances human resources professionals cannot use to evaluate applicants for employment.  While some states make distinctions in this area Texas does not, applying the seven-year rule to everything contained in an individual’s criminal background check.

Furthermore, background policies across the United States sometimes separate felonies from misdemeanors when accounting for criminal histories.  Texas law does not distinguish between the two classes of criminal behavior, nor does state code delineate between arrests, pending arrests, convictions or any other nuances within the criminal justice system.  As a result, background check laws in Texas are more straightforward then some states’, providing higher-than-average privacy-rights protection.

While federal guidelines protect job applicants from background check misuse, each state’s laws are different. Texas policy holds-up well for consumers, establishing high levels of privacy protection while still allowing HR professionals to properly vet candidates.


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