Welcome back business owners, hiring professionals, and curious readers! We are back here on the blog today to talk about the sunshine state! As you may or may not know, our company was founded in Buffalo, New York, but we do work with companies all over the US! We work closely with our clients in Florida, and today on the blog we wanted to touch on some things to remember for employers. Within the background check industry, there are varying levels of compliance that must be abided by, and today we wanted to help readers better understand how Florida’s background check rules work.
Here are 8 things to remember if you need to conduct employment background screening in Florida. Not abiding by any of the following could land your company in hot water, including but not limited to litigation, penalties, and fines.
- 7 Year Rule
- Ban the Box
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Fair Chance to Compete Act
- Miya’s Law
The Fair Credit and Reporting Act protects the privacy of consumers in the information gathered by, held, and reported by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), which does include companies that conduct background checks for companies.
Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), FCRA also controls how employers can use the information obtained from employment background checks. Applicants must be notified in writing, and you must obtain written consent. In the event you don’t wish to hire an applicant based on their background check results, you must complete what’s known as the “adverse action process” before making your final decision.
The FCRA also states that an employer who runs a background check must ensure that the information in any report is up-to-date and accurate. An applicant has rights if the information is not up to date or accurate, which includes an investigation into the reporting agency. If employers and background check service providers fail to allow this set of requirements, applicants could be entitled to file a claim under the FCRA.
One additional aspect of the FCRA is what’s known as the “7-year rule.” This specifies that specific criminal records MUST be removed from an applicant’s history after seven years. Records like judgments against an applicant, arrest records, paid tax liens, and civil judgments must be removed after 7 years.
Ban the Box Laws
Many states around the country have adopted what is known as “ban the box” laws. These laws are intended to prevent employers from requesting information about an applicant’s criminal history in certain states and cities. Florida does NOT have a STATEWIDE ban-the-box law, though there are several cities that have already passed ban-the-box laws for employers. The city of Lakeland, the city of Gainsville, and Orange County have ban-the-box laws in place that employers should be aware of.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This one should be nothing new to anyone today in 2023, but it must be mentioned. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 states clearly “Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Protected characteristics require employers to individually assess any potential convictions before deciding not to hire an applicant based on their criminal record.
Fair Chance to Compete Act
This law is a federal “ban-the-box” law that applies to defense contractors, civilian contractors who contract with the federal government, and federal agencies. The Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act became effective in December 2021 as an amendment to the National Defense Authorizations Act. Covered employees can’t ask about criminal record information on applications or during an interview, and are prohibited from requiring applicants to disclose their criminal records prior to any conditional offer of employment under this law. Some federal contractors and agencies are required by federal law to exclude individuals with certain criminal convictions, which are exempted under this law.
This law mandates that all property managers and landlords conduct comprehensive background checks on any and all applicants. This includes criminal record checks and sex offender registry checks in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. An unfortunate tragedy involving the murder of a 19-year-old college student by an apartment complex maintenance worker in 2021 led to the passing of this law.
Miya’s law applies to landlords with transient and non-transient apartments, as well as property management companies.
Florida’s expungement rule is much more limited than many other states. Some states automatically expunge or seal criminal records after a specific time period has passed, whereas Florida does not. People in Florida who wish to expunge a record must submit a petition, and they only get one chance to do that. If that person does indeed get their record expunged, they do NOT have to disclose the expunged record to employers, and it will not be reported on background checks.
You may remember us talking about E-Verify here on the blog, but as of January 1, 2021, private employers in Florida must either confirm an employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S. by enrolling in and using the E-Verify system, or by gathering the same documents used to verify employment eligibility by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
As you can see, Florida background checks are different from other areas around the country. In the event that you have any questions regarding your current background check policies, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We work with companies in Florida, New York, and beyond! As seasoned experts in the background screening industry, we take pride in helping Florida businesses make better hiring decisions!