How Far Back Does a Criminal Background Check Go in Tennessee?

With background checks, every state has slightly different reporting requirements and regulations that employers and other entities must follow. In some states, for instance, criminal background checks can only show convictions from the past seven years. In this post, we will explore Tennessee background check laws to see which limitations employers must follow when vetting candidates in the state. 

The first thing to understand is that all employers in all states must abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when conducting background checks. The FCRA is a federal law that dictates how employers must behave while conducting pre-employment background checks or making hiring decisions based on background check data. Failure to comply with the FCRA can lead to costly lawsuits, so it’s vital to understand this law before conducting any background screenings on prospective personnel. Read the Learning Center page on FCRA compliance for details.

One thing that the FCRA does not comment on is how far back criminal background checks can go. There is currently no federal law that limits the reporting of criminal convictions. It is up to states to establish these regulations, which some states have done. States such as New York, California, and New Mexico maintain laws that limit the reporting of criminal convictions to records from within the past seven years. 

Tennessee background check laws contain no provision limiting the reporting range of criminal history convictions. A criminal history check conducted in Tennessee can legally report a person’s entire criminal history—even if convictions date back 20 or 30 years. There are also no laws in Tennessee that bar employers from considering older convictions when making their hiring decisions. 

There are limitations elsewhere that employers should keep in mind. For instance, the FCRA does limit reporting for other types of information, including non-convictions (typically arrests that did not lead to misdemeanor or felony convictions) and credit history. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has also issued guidance encouraging employers to consider criminal convictions on a case-by-case basis. The idea is that a conviction from a year ago is likely more relevant to a person’s job fitness than a conviction from 15 years ago—especially if the individual has participated in no criminal activity since. 

Many states also have laws that prohibit employers from considering arrest histories as part of the employment process. Tennessee has no such law at this time. 

At, we are proud to offer a high-quality Tennessee background check solution. To learn more about our checks or the kind of information that they show, feel free to contact us directly.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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