Pre-Employment Background Checks In Arizona – What Do Employers Need to Do To Protect Themselves?


Few things are as costly to a business as making a bad hire. Too often applicants fail to disclose, or even falsify, pertinent information that may affect an employer’s hiring decision. An in-depth background investigation conducted by an experienced private investigative agency can identify any undisclosed criminal history, falsified employment or educational experience, and identify fraud on the part of the applicant.

Despite the aforementioned benefits of a pre-employment background screening, there are some important laws governing the ways in which private investigations develop and report background information, and there are regulations governing how and when an employer may use this information. The statutes and regulations governing pre-employment background checks are complex, and far exceed the scope of a blog post. If you have any questions consult an attorney. This post is intended to be a very quick overview of some recent developments and trends in the field, and not legal advice.

Is Arizona a “Ban The Box” State?

“Banning the box,” simply put, describes a growing trend that some state and local governments have adopted to prevent an employment application from inquiring into an applicant’s prior criminal convictions. In cities and counties that have banned the box, the background screening process of employment is usually delayed until a later stage in the hiring process (i.e. once a job offer has been extended).

Currently, no city in Arizona forbids inquiry into an applicant’s criminal history. Employers are able to inquire into an applicant’s past criminal convictions as a preliminary screening method. Though ban the box laws have yet to be implemented in Arizona, proposed legislation and general national trends suggest that this may change in the future.

Are Background Checks In Arizona Regulated in Any Way?

While no ban the box measures have been implemented in Arizona, there are a few regulations Arizona employers should be aware of when inquiring into an applicant’s background.

On the state level, the Arizona Civil Rights Act contains provisions that limit what an employer can legally inquire into during the hiring process. For a list of permissible inquiries, click here (pdf). In Arizona, an employer may ask an applicant about any potential criminal history, though the presence of criminal history may not be an absolute bar to employment.

In addition to state law, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act prescribes procedures an employer must follow when acting on information contained in a background report. For more information on what is required from employers under the FCRA, visit the FTC’s guide for employers here.