Employee Driving Record – What it is and Why You Might Need It

There are many records that are kept on us throughout our lives in various government and private databases. The driving record is only one such file. However, it is a highly important one as it is part of any standard background check. It can influence a variety of elements in your life.

As a driver, your driving record can affect your ability to obtain car insurance, determine whether you will be hired for a variety of jobs, be used as evidence of character in court proceedings, and tarnish your reputation. You might have to worry about it being used to foster unlawful discrimination in the workplace against you or the possibility of it creating a hostile work environment (see What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment). As an employer, the employee driving record is part of a standard background check and can help you weed out undesirable hires and save you many headaches further down the road.

What is an Employee Background Check?

Before we get in deeper regarding employee driving record checks, you might want to know exactly what is an employee background check. Employee background checks are a series of factual verifications completed by an employer to determine employability of a job candidate. While they tend to be run primarily by potential employers, there are other situation in which they might be used, some of which were noted above.

Whenever you find yourself having a background check run on you or needing to run an employee background screening on someone else, there are several items you should expect to be looked into. While an employer might not run all of these checks, they are able to do so if they so choose. The company can examine your criminal history, verify employment history, verify character references, authenticate your reported education and credentials, look for problems in your credit history, check for issues with your driving record, and even run a Patriot Act search. A newer element of some companies' background checks includes looking at your social media presence. These items are standard elements of a background check and the information can easily be obtained from a wide variety of sources. The information is not private and you cannot keep it hidden; there are many employee background check companies who can readily obtain this information.

Depending on the reason for running the background check, the results could be used to come to a wide variety of conclusions about yourself. For an employer, it could be used to determine if you are experienced in your field, likely to hurt the image of a company, or a potential liability. They can also use it to decide whether or not to issue you a driver certification. An insurance company could use it to determine how much to charge you or if they should insure you at all. If you are applying for housing or a loan, it can be used to determine your eligibility. Even in legal matters, it can be used to establish your character.

Why Run a Background Check on Yourself or on a Potential Employee?

The advantages to running a background check on an employee or potential employee are likely clear. When you employ someone, you need them to be both a good worker and a good citizen. Employees are the face of the company to the public and their image is the company's image. For each employee or potential employee, the employer must perform a risk assessment. Someone who switches jobs every few months may be too high of a risk when compared to the cost of training. An employee who has a criminal record could become a PR disaster should he or she reoffend. A person who has been in frequent accidents might prove to be careless in ways that can affect their performance at work.

On the other side, it is harder to see why running a background check on yourself would be valuable. You know who you are and what you have done. What could there be to learn?

Believe it or not, there is a lot you can learn by running a background check on yourself.

When going into the job application process, you should prepare for it as if you are gearing up for a big exam. You need to do your research and learn how to play to the desires of the various employers you are applying to. When you know exactly what they are looking for, you can play up your strengths as they align with what the company is seeking.

You should also have a very clear understanding of your own weaknesses. While, as noted above, you know yourself and what you have done, it is very different when you see it all laid out on paper. By viewing these details of your life in an almost clinical manner, it is easier to step back and see yourself the way your potential employer would see you.

By looking at yourself objectively, it becomes easier to spot your weaknesses and determine your plan of action for addressing them with your potential employer. It can also help you strategize in terms of what you need to play up about yourself in order to minimize these hiccups in the eyes of your employer.

Something else to consider is the possibility of there being mistakes or evidence of fraud in your background check. Discovering these things ahead of time can save you a world of trouble later on. For example, my father had a criminal background check run by his employer as part of a revolving set of background checks they complete on all employees; it came back saying there was a warrant for his arrest for the robbery in a state he had never even visited. Luckily, his employer knew he had not done this—in fact, his being at work was his alibi for the crime. However, not everyone would be so lucky in the same or similar circumstance.

Can an Employer use Background Checks to Discriminate?

The answer to this question depends on two variables. One, how would you define discrimination? Two: where do you live?

If you define discrimination as treating you differently based on the information obtained in a background check, chances are this will not be considered unlawful discrimination no matter where you live. Most states have provisions in place for employers that protect their right to reject potential employees whom they feel pose a threat to the safety of their employees and customers, could compromise the security of information and operations, or whom stand to hurt the image of the company. Many states also allow employers to fire an employee for almost any reason, problems with background included. In any state, if an employer can prove that firing an employee is the reasonable course of action, the firing will be ruled as justified.

However, each state can define what constitutes "reasonable course of action" by its own standards as long as it is in compliance with federal law. For example, the state of Hawaii restricts employer consideration of criminal offences to those committed within the last 10 years and any offence considered must directly relate back to the position the convict applied for. In other words, sex offences committed in the last 10 years would bar a person from working with children, but a conviction on a driving offence would not, unless the position was to transport the children. In Missouri, on the other hand, there is no law restricting the use of background checks as a routine element of the hiring practice.

At the moment, there are ongoing court cases and legislation which could lead to actions taken by employers based on background checks being labeled as discriminatory. These primarily relate to decisions based on arrest records instead of convictions and denial of employment to convicts who do not "present an unacceptable risk".

One area in which an employer should be careful to avoid discrimination is in selectively running background checks or aspects of background checks. If an employer elects to run a check on a potential employee, they must run the same check on all potential employees applying to that position. An employer cannot look at an applicant and decide they seem like a criminal, then run a background check on only that applicant. Additionally, particular care should be used when deciding whether to take action based on a background check of a current employee. Termination of employment should not be the selected course of action unless it is clear that what you have discovered about the employee presents a conflict with their position of employment. Finally, there have been cases where reports have been inaccurate or incomplete - such as reporting an arrest without reporting that the person was exonerated. Take care to get the entire story before making a decision. And always make certain that the employee or potential employee is aware that the background check is going to be run and the scope of what the check will cover.

No matter how reasonable the running of a background check may be, there is the chance that its use could be challenged. As law is like a living organism, constantly evolving, it is vital that employers stay up to date with the law. However, running background checks is good business practice as it can help you avoid lawsuits in the future over negligent hiring practices.

What to expect if you are Fired or Refused a Position Based on Background Check Information

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the employee or potential employee must be informed in advance of action being taken based on a background check. This is determined at the federal level and covers all 50 states in the United States. In informing the individual being fired or declined employment, the employer or potential employer must a notice with a copy of the consumer report used to inform their decision and a copy of "A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act,"; this should be obtained from the company that ran the background check.

Notice is to be given in advance of the action being taken as it allows the employee or potential employee the chance to review the report for inaccuracies and make their case as to why they should still be kept in or given the position.

If adverse action is still taken after the employee or potential employee is given the chance to review, they must be informed of the following:

  • their employment was terminated or denied due to information revealed by the report

  • all the needed information of the company that issued the report

  • that the company that issued the report did not make the decision and cannot provide information regarding it

  • and that the person who was terminated or denied employment can contest the accuracy of the report with the company and get a free report within 60 days.

Can Background Check Results Create a Hostile Work Environment?

If you are hired despite compromising revelations in your background check, or a background check is conducted after you have already been employed, there is the possibility that this information could be used to create a hostile work environment. When you are discussing this concept, there are two ways to look at it. You can view it via a more colloquial definition or the legal definition.

In colloquial terms, a person might label a work environment hostile if they feel uncomfortable, disliked, or displaced at work. For example, a person who feels excluded and unwelcomed by his or her coworkers might be inclined to label the work environment hostile. They might feel as though they do not want to go to work and find themselves feeling depressed. However, such a situation would fail to fall under the legal definition of a hostile work environment.

Legally, for a workplace to meet the definition of a hostile work environment, according to Pospis Law, it must meet a limited set of criteria. Essentially, a hostile work environment exists when the adverse conduct is based on the protected status of the employee: race, color, religion, pregnancy, sex/gender, national origin, age, disability, and/or sexual orientation.

The majority of items revealed during a background check are not likely to be directly related to a protected status. There are court cases which have tried to make the argument that since certain demographics are more likely to be convicted of a crime, background checks can lead to discrimination and hostility; however, these cases have yet to lead to a change in federal law. If you can prove that information revealed during a background check lead to discrimination and hostility based on a protected status - such as what church you attend—you may have legal standing.

How does a Driving Record Affect Driver Certifications?

For any job requiring a driver certification for employment, a driving record will be used to determine employment eligibility. Depending on the types of offences, amount of offences, and how recently they were committed, there is a strong chance that an applicant with a flawed driving record will be denied employment in such a position.

Driving Records and the Ability Impaired

If you have an incident on your driving record which can be explained by the presence of a disability, you should be able to present evidence demonstrating that the incident occurred due to the disability. The disabled are given protected status, which means that you cannot be denied employment due to anything related to your disability.

However, if the incident occurred due to your being temporarily impaired due to your own actions, such an incident legally does not need to be looked over. For example, if you have a DUI on your record, potential and current employers do not need to overlook this offence. Drinking, while it does impair you temporarily, is not a disability. The length of which such offences remain on your record varies by state. For example, driving while ability impaired in New York results in a permanent mark on your record.

Getting the Driving Record and Other Background Check Items

As you can now see, obtaining a driving record and other background check items can be vital for both the employer and the employee. Employers can use such information to help them determine the best candidate for a position and avoid lawsuits over negligent hiring practices. Employees can use it to strengthen their abilities during the application process and catch errors before they cause problems. If you are looking to start your background check process, begin by contacting 4SafeDrivers, either online or at 1-877-753-6667 today.

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