Do employers and agencies have access to my medical records when performing a background check?

In most cases, when performing a background check, an employer or agency cannot request your medical records, and federal law prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on medical history. Employers can require a medical exam and choose to not hire you if you are unable to perform the essential duties of the job because of your medical condition.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires an employer to obtain your specific permission for the release of medical records, yet in California and many other states, medical records are confidential and cannot be required by an employer. Furthermore, The Americans with Disabilities Act allows a potential employer to inquire only about your ability to perform specific job functions. Employers can require physical examinations after they make a job offer and are permitted access to those results, but you cannot be denied work based upon any medical condition unless such condition renders you incapable of performing the job duties.

If you have an illness or injury that requires a work-related accommodation, you may need to provide documentation from your doctor. Otherwise, you have the right to protect your privacy, so if you are asked, you should tell your employer that you wish to keep your medical information confidential.

If you wish to find out what information is on your background check, you can conduct a background check online. Obtaining your background information is a good idea if you want to ensure accuracy and be aware of what information is being reported about you to employers and other agencies.

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