Criminal Record Restrictions
What may be reported on a South Carolina criminal history search?
Jurisdiction where record is recorded
Degree of offense, e.g. misdemeanor
In South Carolina, most employers choose to rely on background checks such as these to ensure they have all the facts in hand when making a decision about a potential new hire. Because they use information from statewide sources, it is simpler to uncover past criminal histories in other counties. Currently, backgroundchecks.com offers state-level background checks for 30 different states including South Carolina. Every search checks information from important local areas including Charleston County, Greenville County, Richland County, and Spartanburg County.
Typically, the records available from a background check in SC include arrests, convictions, and similar information as authorized by state law. Information on dismissals, not-guilty verdicts, and arrests not leading to a conviction are typically not available to the public.
South Carolina does not enforce many restrictions on the ways employers may use criminal background information during the hiring process. However, care must still be taken to remain within the bounds of the law. To date, only one county in the state has passed a "fair chance" or ban the box law. For informational purposes, we've created a summary of the important information employers in South Carolina should know before ordering a background check on a prospective employee.
Public and private employers in the state are not restricted from asking applicants about arrests in their past that are not under seal. Employers may consider this information as a part of their hiring considerations. However, it is important to remember the Human Rights Commission has at times ruled in favor of plaintiffs alleging discrimination because of decisions employers made based on records of arrests that did not result in convictions.
Conviction Records::Employers may ask applicants for information on convictions with wide latitude. With only a few exceptions, South Carolina does not restrict businesses from making negative decisions after learning of an applicant’s convictions.
Dismissed or Sealed Records
SC businesses may not ask about or consider arrest records sealed or ordered expunged from an individual’s criminal history. Likewise, expunged convictions are not to be considered in the decision-making process. Juvenile court records and convictions are also generally off-limits.
Ban the Box
Only York County in South Carolina currently employs a ban the box law for public sector employees. As of 2017, applicants must receive an initial interview and a conditional offer of employment before criminal history inquiries can be made. This doesn’t not supersede state or federal law for positions that require background checks.
South Carolina has chosen to largely defer to the requirements laid out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Civil Rights Act, Title VII, in lieu of passing additional state-level restrictions. Credit histories, for example, do not fall under state regulation, so employers wishing to consider such information can only do so in line with FCRA statutes. Title VII encourages employers to remember an arrest is not proof of criminal activity.