How Far Back Can Employers Check Criminal Backgrounds in Nevada?

By Michael Klazema on 9/25/2019

In addition to federal background check laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act, each state has its own laws that limit or control how employers can vet prospective candidates. For instance, states are split about whether employers should be allowed to consider arrest records as part of the hiring process. Another notable variation from state to state is how far back criminal record background checks can go. In this post, we will review what Nevada background check laws say regarding background checks.

First, understand that there is no federal law that regulates how far back background checks can reach. Under the FCRA, a felony conviction can always show up on a person’s background check. Felony arrests can only show up for seven years on a background check.

States add extra restrictions in part to help ex-offenders rebuild their lives and get second chances. The idea is that an old conviction shouldn’t automatically be a barrier to employment, housing, or other opportunities—especially if the person has kept a clean record since. By limiting how far back a criminal history check can go, state laws place more emphasis on recent convictions.

If a state does have a reporting limit on criminal convictions, it will typically be either a seven-year limit or a 10-year limit. Some states even have both depending on the income of the job role. In California, for instance, standard law prohibits background check companies from including any criminal cases that are seven years old or older—but the exception kicks in if a job pays more than $125,000 annually. In that case, an employer can look back ten years into a candidate’s criminal history.

Nevada background check laws are among the most confusing of any state, and they have changed recently. Nevada is often listed among states with a seven-year reporting limit for criminal convictions. In truth, the state does not regulate how far back employers can look on criminal background checks. There used to be a seven-year reporting limit on criminal convictions in Nevada, but in 2015, then-Governor Brian Sandoval signed Nevada Senate Bill 409, which repealed the background check reporting limit.

Now, the law in Nevada aligns with the FCRA: a criminal background check can include information as far back as the information exists. If a candidate has a 20-year-old felony conviction, background check providers in Nevada can report that information. Note that Nevada law still prohibits the use of arrest records in hiring decisions, which means that arrest details are not included in a criminal background check report.

Nevada background check laws under Senate Bill 409 include special considerations for employers in the gaming industry. These employers can see older bankruptcy and civil history information than other types of businesses, and they can access records that are sealed to other employers.

Despite the 2015 changes in Nevada background check laws, employers in the state should continue to follow guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC urges all employers to weigh the relevance of certain convictions against the job at hand. The recency of convictions is one metric that the EEOC says is important to consider as less recent convictions may be less relevant to the job.

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