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

By Michael Klazema on 10/16/2019

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.

Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • November 12 With so many organizations using background checks, it’s easy to wonder whether these checks can go too far as an invasion of privacy. 
  • November 07 For businesses that experience a seasonal rush, having additional labor on hand can be invaluable. Get valuable information about safely using temporary workers.
  • November 06 A pending charge may affect a candidate’s fitness to perform a job. How long will it take such a charge to appear on criminal background checks?
  • November 05 Right now, marijuana usage and possession remain illegal at the federal level. However, as more states legalize or decriminalize the drug—marijuana is entirely illegal in nine states—many legislators are working to take the next logical step: expunging past marijuana convictions.
  • October 31 Nationwide, many locales have implemented frameworks for sealing criminal records to boost employability. Are they succeeding in their purpose?
  • October 30 An employment background check with the federal government can take months, especially if you are seeking a position that requires a security clearance.
  • October 29 Instant background check technology has been around for years. It’s becoming a more common way for schools to screen visitors.
  • October 24 Many businesses focus on identifying outward threats. What about the risks that come from inside the office? Learn more about the insider threat. 
  • October 23 The employment background check process tends to confuse. Here’s a quick look at how the process works. 
  • October 22 Almost every school district and school busing contractor is currently contending with a bus driver shortage. Despite this issue, bus driver background checks remain essential.