New Expunged Record Law Limits Background Checks

North Carolina’s new Expunged Criminal Record bill will affect what questions employers may ask on job applications and during the hiring process. The law prevents most employers from asking about crimes and criminal charges that have been ex­­punged from job applicants’ records. The law doesn’t bar employers from asking about arrests and convictions that have not been expunged. However, the EEOC has spearheaded a “ban the box” movement that would effectively remove all criminal background questions from job applications. Under that model, employers could ask about convictions (not arrests or charges), but only after they have made a conditional job offer. Employers would also have to show that the criminal background information was “job-related and of business necessity.” By comparison, the Expunged Criminal Record law simply shields applicants and employees from having to reveal any expunged arrests, charges or convictions. They cannot be held liable for refusing to reveal them. First violations of the law will earn a warning; subsequent infractions carry a $500 fine. The law doesn’t apply to those seeking law enforcement jobs. Those applicants must reveal all arrests, charges, and convictions, whether or not they have been expunged. It is important to establish a policy for requesting criminal background information and stick with it. Using different procedures for different applicants could lead to discrimination charges.

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