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Aug 19, 2013

From access to major cities such as Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin and all they have to offer, to a wealth of jobs in energy, technology, financial services and agriculture, to employer friendly laws, the state of Texas is well-known as a good place for employers to conduct business.

And when it comes to conducting employment background checks in Texas, it’s no different. You just need to know how it’s done.

Here are five (5) things you really need to know about conducting background checks in the great state of Texas:

  1. Best place to find criminal records in Texas —  Want to conduct comprehensive criminal background checks in the state of Texas? Look no further than the county/district courts. With 254 counties in the state, this might seem like a tall order but a reputable background screening company should have no problem with the coverage area. Remember though, that the state generally houses felonies conviction records district courts and misdemeanors in county courts, so you’ll want to make sure that you search both of them.
  2. Everything is big in Texas (except for the size of it’s state criminal database) —  If you’re looking to conduct a thorough criminal background check, the Texas Department of Public Safety Computerized Criminal History System (DPS) is not your best bet as a primary resource. Let’s just say that if this database were a cheese, it would be Swiss. In fact, a 2011 state audit of the DPS revealed huge gaps in information. The good news is that the search is really inexpensive, so you could use it as a complement to your county criminal background check. If you do, make sure that you confirm any records found at the county level to ensure accuracy.
  3. No major state potholes in Texas — Generally speaking, the laws that govern employment background screening in Texas mirror their federal counterparts. So, complying with specific state laws shouldn’t be a full contact sport. We have just learned that the state did pass Texas House Bill 1188 related to limiting the liability of persons who employ persons with criminal convictions. This new law which takes effect of September 1, 2013 provides that a “cause of action may not be brought against an employer, general contractor, premises owner, or other third-party solely for negligently hiring or failing to adequately supervise an employee, based on evidence that the employee has been convicted of an offense.” Yippee! Just remember, employers still have the responsibility of conducting a background check and for making a responsible hiring decision based on the findings.
  4. Let me see your badge — It is important to know that anyone conducting background checks in Texas be licensed by the state as a Private Investigator. This applies to all background screening companies whether they perform the actual research or utilize a network of contractors. Getting caught without a license will result in expulsion from the courts, significant fines and possible jail time. I love this rule because it actually allows me to carry a badge even though I don’t personally conduct research in any court.
  5. Credit reports are fair game — As of this writing, the state of Texas has not enacted laws to curb the use of credit reports as basis to determine hiring eligibility. Still, employers are encouraged to use them responsibly. This means utilizing the search only when an individual’s credit report might have a bearing on how they might perform their job responsibilities.

This was originally published on EmployeeScreen IQ.