Federal background checks for employment

Question

Hello!

Someone asked this question a little while back, to which you gave a wonderful response!

http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/Workplace/Q231905.html

"Does a pre-employment background check show the person tested positive? I understand certain jobs require an HIV test, but I was wondering if the regular background check scope included CDC records and how would that work?"

I think the person is asking about federal background checks turning up showing HIV status, not employee checkups. I'm curious to know the answer regarding background checks. Thank you so much for your expertise!

Answer

Thank you for catching that. A pre-employment background check is very different from the pre-employment physical exam, which is how I probably answered it initially since it is a part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

A pre-employment background check is a totally different animal. Your caption mentioned a federal check. The federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) puts out a Q & A on such checks. You can find it here. You can find it here.

Private employers will sometimes do a similar check, especially if it is an applicant for a higher position or a position which requires substantial trust. This would include checks into: criminal history, credit, confirm your identity and address, gaps in your employment history, follow up on references, your character and fitness, etc.

Chances are there will be no specific mention of any health conditions including HIV status since you are not releasing your medical information to the inquirer.

However, most background checks will also include interviewing your references, your friends, and your neighbors. If you have told any of them of your HIV status, they may pass that information along.

Keep in mind that it is still illegal to discriminate against a person with HIV under the ADA. As long as you are able to perform your job duties, you cannot be discriminated against in hiring. My concern here is how would you know the reason for being passed over.

A pre-employment physical exam cannot be required unless a firm job offer is on the table. If a potential employer is going to do a background check on you, you will be aware of it because of the amount of information they will need to request from you. Ask the employer at that time if there is a firm job offer on the table.

I must admit I can't promise such a background check might not discover your status, but the fewer people outside your treating doctors that know about your status the less of a chance they will learn it.

Best of luck, Jacques