Conducting background checks

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Conducting background checks

My company is planning on implementing a background check as part of the screening process for new hires. Are we required to run background checks on the current employees as well or can we run only on future hires?

Asked on June 13, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A company is free to change its hiring and employment practices or other work policies at will (unless there was some overarching contract, like a union agreement, specifying what those practices are), and when they change them, they don't need to retroactively apply them unless they choose to. You are free to only impose the background check on new hires if you like...OR you could run background checks on current employees too if your company wants and then take action (e.g. terminate) based on them (and if not barred by any contract[s]--i.e. you can't fire someone in way that violates his/her contract).
The only important thing--and this may be obvious, but for completeness, it should be stated--is to not discriminate against protected categories: whether you do checks only on new hires or on existing staff, too, make sure you don't target racial or relgious groups, or women, or those over 40, etc. for the checks. Apply to all people in whatever group (new hires or all staff) you decide.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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