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Texas also follows a rule for public jobs to not hire felons; but the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and several federal courts call this rule into question.

The rules of criminal background checks in Texas employment background checks

For now, at least, the background check will uncover every conviction as an adult. If you accepted straight probation or deferred adjudication instead of prosecution for an alleged crime, your employer will be able to identify the crime if you were convicted, if you were required to make a guilty plea, or pled no contest.

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If the charge is dismissed without any admission of guilt then it will not show up on a background check. This issue is important because when an employer asks about your criminal history on a job application you need to pay attention to the question asked. If the question asks about convictions, guilty pleas or pleas of no contest, then you would have to honestly answer that you have something in your history that is responsive to the question. The background check discloses the plea. When the background check results appear the employer terminates you because you were dishonest on the application.

Texas courts hold this is not dishonesty and you would be eligible for unemployment benefits.

However, understand that the employer could still terminate you for the underlying crime. The short answer is that an arrest is no proof criminal or offensive conduct occurred you are innocent until proven guilty.

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Employers should not uncover arrests on a background check although sometimes they show up anyway. No law in Texas specifically prohibits employers from using arrests as a basis for employment decisions but the EEOC asserts federal anti-discrimination law prohibits the use of arrests in employment decisions because such a policy tends to discriminate against ethnic and racial minorities, who are more likely to be arrested than white people.

The anti-discrimination laws do not create an automatic bar against the use of arrests but the standard set by those laws is so high it is nearly impossible to justify the use of arrest records in employment decisions. Therefore, employers tend to limit themselves to actual convictions, guilty pleas and pleas of no contest.


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In spite of the fairly specific time limitations on criminal background checks, the anti-discrimination laws can also require employers to perform background checks on a shorter period of time if at all than the maximum length of time permitted by Texas law. The EEOC takes the position that widespread use of criminal background checks can have a discriminatory impact on minorities that is unrelated to the job or the needs of the employer to protect itself and its customers from an employee with a criminal conviction.

So although an employer may be able to look back at least seven years for criminal activity, an employer concerned about the EEOC investigating discrimination may only perform a background check on the most recent three or four years and look for specific kinds of convictions. To balance competing interests, Texas and federal law sets limits on how employers may use criminal background checks.

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Employment background checks can be a tremendous hurdle in obtaining employment for a substantial number of people. A report by the National Employment Law Project proclaimed 65 million Americans possess convictions that appear in a background check. The basic rule for criminal background checks in Texas is an employer using a credit reporting agency may go back seven years in a criminal background check. However, there are several exceptions to this rule. The criminal records of minors are generally sealed. Employers should not find any criminal convictions before you turned eighteen.

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If they find out about it they should not be using that information to render an employment decision. There are some other exceptions to the seven year limit. For a job for an insurance company, the employer may perform a background check to your eighteenth birthday.

That includes UPS and FedEx drivers, plumbers, electricians, apartment maintenance workers, cable installers, landscapers, and so forth. Keep in mind that this seven year limitation applies when employers hire outside businesses to perform background checks. Few employers outside of government agencies perform their own investigations; but it is important to know that the seven year rule is not absolute. Additionally, Texas permits government agencies including both state and local agencies and departments to look back to your eighteenth birthday. Texas also follows a rule for public jobs to not hire felons; but the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and several federal courts call this rule into question.

For now, at least, the background check will uncover every conviction as an adult. If you accepted straight probation or deferred adjudication instead of prosecution for an alleged crime, your employer will be able to identify the crime if you were convicted, if you were required to make a guilty plea, or pled no contest. If the charge is dismissed without any admission of guilt then it will not show up on a background check.


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  • Counties with longer turnaround times than the average: none reported currently. If the record resulted in a deferred sentence they will not release the record after a year of the records disposition date.

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    Texas Courts Record Check: This criminal courts background record record search includes felony and state-level misdemeanors from the Department of Public Safety. Data may include name, date of birth, sex, race, and other identifying details. Records cover all arrests, prosecutions and dispositions of cases for persons arrested for a Class B misdemeanor or greater violation in Texas. This dataset is updated monthly.