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California Employment Background Check Laws

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Employers that are either located in California or hiring California residents must abide by the Federal FCRA, and they should consider the following state laws. For more information on California state laws, please visit the state legislature.



CA Civil Code (Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act) 1786.18 (a) (7) and (b) Obligations of Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies

Except as authorized under subdivision (b), no investigative consumer reporting agency shall make or furnish any investigative consumer report containing any of the following items of information (7) Records of arrest, indictment, information, misdemeanor complaint, or conviction of a crime that, form the date of disposition, release, or parole, antedate the report by more than seven years. These items of information shall no longer be reported if at any time it is learned that, in the case of a conviction, a full pardon has been granted or, in the case of an arrest, indictment, information, or misdemeanor complaint, a conviction did not result; except that record of arrest, indictment, information, or misdemeanor complaints may be reported pending pronouncement of judgment on the particular subject matter of those records.

(b) The provisions of subdivision (a) are not applicable in either of the following circumstances: (1) If the investigative consumer report is to be used in the underwriting of life insurance involving, or that may reasonably be expected to involve, an amount of two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) or more. (2) If the investigative consumer report is to be used by an employer who is explicitly required by a governmental regulatory agency to check for records that are prohibited by subdivision (a) when the employer is reviewing a consumer’s qualification for employment. (c) Except as otherwise provided in Section 1786.28, an investigative consumer reporting agency shall not furnish an investigative consumer report that includes information that is a matter of public record and that relates to an arrest, indictment, conviction, civil judicial action, tax lien, or outstanding judgment, unless the agency has verified the accuracy of the information during the 30-day period ending on the date on which the report is furnished. (d) An investigative consumer reporting agency shall not prepare or furnish an investigative consumer report on a consumer that contains information that is adverse to the interest of the consumer and that is obtained through a personal interview with a neighbor, friend, or associate of the consumer or with another person with whom the consumer is acquainted or who has knowledge of the item of information, unless either (1) the investigative consumer reporting agency has followed reasonable procedures to obtain confirmation of the information, from an additional source that has independent and direct knowledge of the information, or (2) the person interviewed is the best possible source of the information.

In other words:

Arrests, indictments, misdemeanor complaints, and convictions of crimes older than 7 years cannot be reported in California. Any full pardon that has been granted or any arrest that did not lead to a conviction cannot be reported. However, any pending criminal charges can be reported.

CA Labor Code 432.7.

(a) No employer, whether a public agency or private individual or corporation, shall ask an applicant for employment to disclose, through any written form or verbally, information concerning an arrest or detention that did not result in conviction, or information concerning a referral to, and participation in, any pretrial or post trial diversion program, or concerning a conviction that has been judicially dismissed or ordered sealed pursuant to law, including, but not limited to, Sections 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.45, and 1210.1 of the Penal Code, nor shall any employer seek from any source whatsoever, or utilize, as a factor in determining any condition of employment including hiring, promotion, termination, or any apprenticeship training program or any other training program leading to employment, any record of arrest or detention that did not result in conviction, or any record regarding a referral to, and participation in, any pretrial or post-trial diversion program, or concerning a conviction that has been judicially dismissed or ordered sealed pursuant to law, including, but not limited to, Sections 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.45, and 1210.1 of the Penal Code. As used in this section, a conviction shall include a plea, verdict, or finding of guilt regardless of whether sentence is imposed by the court. Nothing in this section shall prevent an employer from asking an employee or applicant for employment about an arrest for which the employee or applicant is out on bail or on his or her own recognizance pending trial.

In other words:

In California, employers – public or private – cannot make employment decisions about a job applicant, or ask a job applicant about: (1) criminal charges that did not result in a conviction; (2) pretrial or post-trial diversion programs; or (3) dismissed or sealed convictions. However, employers are permitted to ask applicants about criminal charges that are still pending.

CA Civil Code (Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act) 1785.20.5. – Disclosure – Copy of Report

Prior to requesting a consumer credit report for employment purposes, the user of the report shall provide written notice to the person involved. The notice shall inform the person that a report will be used and the source of the report, and shall contain a box that the person may check off to receive a copy of the credit report. If the consumer indicates that he or she wishes to receive a copy of the report, the user shall request that a copy be provided to the person when the user requests its copy from the credit reporting agency. The report to the user and to the subject person shall be provided contemporaneously and at no charge to the subject person.


Every investigative consumer reporting agency that provides an investigative consumer report to a person other than the consumer shall make a copy of that report available, upon request and proper identification, to the consumer for at least two years after the date that the report is provided to the other person.

 Cal. Labor Code 222.5

No person shall withhold or deduct from the compensation of any employee, or require any prospective employee or applicant for employment to pay, any fee for, or cost of, any pre-employment medical or physical examination taken as a condition of employment, nor shall any person withhold or deduct from the compensation of any employee, or require any employee to pay any fee for, or costs of, medical or physical examinations required by any law or regulation of federal, state or local governments or agencies thereof.

In other words:

Before employers run a credit report on a job applicant, they must: (1) inform the applicant that a credit report could affect the employer’s decision, (2) reveal the maker of the credit report, and (3) allow the applicant to receive a free copy of the report. If the applicant decides to receive a credit report, a copy of the report must be sent to the applicant and the employer at the same time.

In other words:

Under California law, consumer reporting agencies must save the reports they make for at least two years.

In other words:

an employer cannot require an applicant  to pay the costs associated with an employment drug screening

1024.5. Chapter 3.6. Employer use of consumer credit reports

(a) An employer or prospective employer shall not use a consumer credit report for employment purposes unless the position of the person for whom the report is sought is any of the following: (1) A managerial position. (2) A position in the state Department of Justice. (3) That of a sworn peace officer or other law enforcement position. (4) A position for which the information contained in the report as required by law to be disclosed or obtained. (5) A position that involves regular access, for any purpose other than the routine solicitation and processing of credit card applications in a retail establishment, to all of the following types of information of any one person: (A) Bank or credit card account information. (B) Social security number. (C) Date of birth. (6) A position in which the person is, or would be, any of the following: (A) A named signatory on the bank or credit card account of the employer. (B) Authorized to transfer money on behalf of the employer. (C) Authorized to enter into financial contracts on behalf of the employer. (7) A position that involves access to confidential or proprietary information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, process or trade secret that (i) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who may obtain economic value from the disclosure or use of the information, and (ii) is the subject of an effort that is reasonable under the circumstances to maintain secrecy of the information. (8) A position that involves regular access to cash totaling $10,000 or more of the employer, a customer, or client, during the workday […].

In other words:

Employers in California can only use credit reports to make employment decisions if the position in question is: (1) a managerial position; (2) a position in the State Department of Justice; (3) a law enforcement position; (4) required by law to include a credit report; (5) one in which the applicant will work regularly with individuals’ sensitive personal information; (6) one in which the applicant will have fiduciary responsibilities on behalf of the employer or business; (7) one in which the applicant will have access to trade secrets and other valuable business information; or (8) one in which the applicant will have access to cash of $10,000 or more.


 How to Dispute Your Records: 

Criminal Records:

If you find that your criminal records are incorrect or incomplete and you would like to take action, you should contact the specific jurisdiction in which the records were originally filed.

Feel free to take a look at some of these resources for more information:
Live Scan Form
Application to Obtain Copy of Criminal History Record
Expunging Criminal Records
Petition for Dismissal
Order for Dismissal
Instructions for completing dismissal forms

Civil Records:

All of the following are included in civil records: judgments, liens, evictions, family and small claims cases. If you would like to dispute a record, contact the court in which the record was filed.

In California Appellate Courts are responsible for hearing appeals, to learn more visit the Civil Appeals site. Also visit the California Courts of Appeal and Find My Courts for more information.

Contact State Law Officials

California Department of Justice
multiple locations
Phone: (916) 322-3360
Fax: (916) 323-5341

Administrative Office of the Courts
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 865-4200

National Laws and Resources

In order to set a standard around hiring policies, the federal government has created the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA to monitor and protect both employers and job seekers. With this law, individuals are protected from unfair workplace discrimination and data breaches of their private, sensitive information. Interested in learning more? Check out GoodHire’s 10-step process for legally obtaining background reports. Be sure to read the official FCRA full text or summary legal document for more details.

Find any court in the USA: Court Locator Tool http://www.uscourts.gov/court_locator/CourtLocatorSearch.aspx

GoodHire tries to update and correct the information provided for this state regularly, but we cannot make the guarantee that everything is fully up-to-date. Laws and regulations change often. This information is not meant to be used as legal advice, solicitation, or advertising. We always recommend speaking to a lawyer before taking any legal action. Please contact us if you find something that is incorrect or out-of-date on our site.

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