Each case is classified by type with letters indicating the case type: T is for traffic violations, M is
Unlike states that have extensive laws restricting how employers can use background checks in hiring, Kentucky maintains straightforward legislation on the matter. The only records that private employers in Kentucky can’t access are those that a court has formally expunged or sealed. Otherwise, Kentucky does not restrict private employers’ ability to inquire about and use conviction records in the hiring process.
Employers may consider both conviction and arrest records in hiring decisions—a notable fact given that many states restrict the use of arrest records for employment.
Since arrest records without corresponding convictions are not proof of guilt, there is debate about whether employers should use them as part of hiring decisions. At backgroundchecks.com, we exclude arrest records from our background check reports. Many employers are unaware of the differing laws about arrest records across different states. We believe that excluding this information from our reports can streamline the process and help employers avoid legal liability for noncompliance.
While private employers don’t have extensive research to perform regarding background check restrictions, government offices need to be cautious. For public employers, Kentucky law restricts the use of conviction records for employment purposes.
A public employer in Kentucky can only base an employment decision on a criminal conviction record if the conviction is for a felony or a certain kind of misdemeanor. Public employers can still consider high misdemeanors, misdemeanors that warrant jail time, misdemeanors that directly relate to the type of employment sought, and misdemeanors that involve moral turpitude. Employers should disregard misdemeanor convictions that they can’t reasonably place into one of these categories when making hiring decisions.
Some public employers are restricted in the timing of their criminal background searches due to an executive order issued in February 2017. While private employers can inquire about criminal history at any point in the hiring process, state-level employers within the executive branch can only conduct a criminal background check once they have offered an applicant an interview for a position.
This executive order also means that state agencies can’t ask applicants to disclose criminal history on an application. This restriction is known as “ban the box” because it prohibits employers from including the section on job applications that asks candidates to check a box if they have ever been convicted of a crime.
The February 2017 executive order that bans the box for private employers does not apply to local-level public employers—only to employers at the state level. Local city or county government offices throughout Kentucky are not expected to comply with the order. The policy only covers the executive branch of the state government, not the legislative or judicial branches.
Employers in Kentucky should be aware of ban the box laws based on the potential for these policies to take root on a local level. After former Governor Matt Bevin signed his executive order in 2017, he encouraged local governments to pass their own versions of this restriction.
So far, only one local entity in Kentucky has a similar policy, and it predates the state order. In 2014, Louisville passed its own “fair chance ordinance,” which bans the box for both city employees and any vendors or contractors doing business with the city. No other local units of government have passed their own ban the box ordinances—but that doesn’t mean cities or counties won’t implement similar policies in the future.