When an employer is seriously considering you for a position, they will likely gather information about you through a background check before they decide whether to hire you. Employers could do their own research about you on the internet, but they probably also request information from consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) or the government.
We previously posted about the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and what requirements it places on employers that request background checks from CRAs and the CRAs that conduct the background checks. Most importantly, CRAs must not provide any criminal record history information other than charges for which you have entered a guilty plea in Kentucky. CRAs are also prohibited from reporting any arrests that are over seven years old, but convictions, regardless of age, will always be reported.
But neither federal law nor Kentucky law place the same requirements on government agencies that provide background checks. This means government background checks can provide information from your criminal record that includes dismissed or diverted charges. If employers see that you have anything on your record, they may assume that you were convicted even if you were not and decide not to hire you as a result.
Generally, government background checks for Kentucky employment, volunteer positions, and license applications come from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, Kentucky State Police, and/or Kentucky’s Administrative Office of the Courts. You may be wondering how background checks from government organizations differ from CRAs. It comes down to interpretation. The FCRA defines a consumer reporting agency as
any person which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties, and which uses any means or facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer reports.
15 U.S.C. §1681a(f). Kentucky has adopted the FCRA’s definition of consumer reporting agencies. KRS 367.363(3).
This definition makes it sound like government agencies could be considered a CRAs, but they are not. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “has never enforced the FCRA against any . . . government agency supplying public records.” This means employment background checks administered by Kentucky’s Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Kentucky State Police, FBI, etc. do not have to follow the FCRA guidelines.
You may be wondering; what types of jobs get background checks from these government agencies? Below are lists of jobs, volunteer positions, and licenses that permit or require government background checks under Kentucky Law:
- Schools (public and private) (KRS 160.151)
- Employees and volunteers
- Charitable gaming licenses (KRS 238.525)
- Private investigators (KRS 329A.040)
- Real property appraiser licensure or certification (KRS 324A.152)
- Commercial driver’s licenses both new applications and renewals (KRS 281A.300 and KRS 281A.320)
- Getting a firearm or destructive device (KRS 27A.092)
- Industrial hemp license (KRS 269.854)
- Real estate brokers or salesmen (KRS 324.045)
- Registered nurses; practical nurses—specifically requires KSP and FBI fingerprint check (KRS 413.103)
- State universities and colleges—statute does not require KSP, AOC, or FBI. Just criminal history background check. Could also be from a CRA (KRS 164.281)
- Office of Secretary of State employees (KRS 14.302)
- Licenses for participants in horse racing—required to submit fingerprints to FBI and KSP (KRS 230.310)
- Anyone who is authorized to prescribe or dispense controlled services—fingerprints to KSP and FBI (KRS 218A.205)
- Emergency Medical Services (KRS 311A.100)
- Fostering or adopting children (KRS 199.473 and KRS 237.110)
- Employment at a long-term care facility for persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities (KRS 216.533)
- Licensure as elevator contractor (KRS 198B.4011)
- Mine safety specialists (KRS 351.090)
- Home inspectors (KRS 198B.722)
- Officers—police, KSP, Court security officers and deputy sheriffs, state or public university police officers, school security officers employed by local boards of education, airport safety and security officers, Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control field representatives and investigators, Division of Insurance Fraud Investigation investigators, County detectives appointed in a county containing a consolidated local government with the power of arrest in the county and the right to execute process statewide (KRS 15.386 and KRS 15.380)
- All potential state lottery vendors and potential employees of the Kentucky Lottery Corporation (if requested by Kentucky Lottery Corporation’s division of security)
- Registration of professional solicitors and fundraising consultants (KRS 367.652)
- The statute does not say the background check will be run through a government database, but the application is through the Attorney General’s office.
- Physicians, Osteopaths, Podiatrists, and Related Medical Practitioners (KRS 311.565)
- Spoken Language Interpreters (AP IX, Sec. 9)
- Interpreters for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AP IX, Sec. 8)
The following are jobs, volunteer positions, or licenses that require government background checks under federal law:
- Each entity selecting individuals to serve in a position in which the individuals receive a living allowance, stipend, national service educational award, or salary through a program receiving assistance under the national service laws shall conduct criminal history checks for such individuals (42 U.S.C.A. § 12645g)
- Child care staff members if a state receives funds to carry out Child Care and Development (42 U.S.C.A. §9858f)
- Child Care Worker Employees of federal government facilities or facilities operated under contract of the federal government (42 U.S.C.A. §13041)
- Employees of a railroad carrier or a contractor or subcontractor of a railroad carrier (6 U.S.C.A. § 1170)
- Employees of a public transportation agency or a contractor or subcontractor of a public transportation agency (6 U.S.C.A. § 1143)
- License to operate a motor vehicle transporting in commerce a hazardous material (49 U.S.C.A. § 5103a)
- Employees of the Under Secretary of Transportation for Security (49 U.S.C.A. § 44936)
- Employees of prisoner transport companies (42 U.S.C.A. § 13726b)
- Anyone who is permitted unescorted access to radioactive material or a utilization facility (42 U.S.C.A. § 2169) (6 U.S.C.A. § 1170)
- Freight vessel riding gang members (46 U.S.C.A. § 8106)
- State and local Court Appointed Special Advocate program prospective volunteers (42 U.S.C.A. §13013)
These lists are not exhaustive. If you are applying for a position or a license not mentioned here, but are concerned that you may be subject to a government background check visit us at Unconvicted or call (888)-400-5730 . We know getting a job, a volunteer position, or a license is important to you, so do not hesitate to reach out to us.
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