Conducting Criminal Record Checks in California

In California, employers are not only restricted from asking an applicant about any arrest that did not result in a conviction, but are also prohibited from seeking the information from any other source. Further, state law prohibits employers from using the information as the basis for making employment decisions about applicants, except that an employer may deny employment to an applicant with a criminal record if there is a legitimate business purpose for doing so. Employees and job applicants may be asked about an arrest for which the person is out on bail or on his or her own recognizance pending trial.

Employers may inquire about arrest records when applicants are applying for criminal justice positions, to operate businesses on public lands and for jobs with access to patients, drugs or medication.

Employers may obtain conviction and arrest records from the Department of Justice for any prospective employee who applies for a license, employment or volunteer position that would involve supervisory or disciplinary power over minors and others.

Employers are required to inform parents or guardians, at least 10 days prior to the start date, of prospective employees or volunteers who have a criminal record reflecting sexual offenses, revealed through a criminal background check with the aid of fingerprints, and will have supervisory or disciplinary duties over minors.

Other fields where criminal background checks are required are education, health care and security. Fingerprinting and criminal history background checks are required, but employers may not seek information about an applicant's arrests that did not result in conviction.

Fingerprinting is required in California of those whose contact with community care facility clients and children in day care facilities may pose a risk to the health and safety of the clients or children.

Fingerprints may also be requested from an applicant for employment or from a director, officer or employee of a bank, holding company or bank subsidiary for purposes of discovering the existence and nature of any criminal records, but only with the consent of the person affected.