Rochelle Kaplan, legal counsel for the National Association of Colleges and Employers and a specialist in employment and labor law, points out that although students and job applicants may feel that preemployment tests are an invasion of privacy, investigations of matters such as criminal records or credit history are not illegal.
In the case of criminal records, your potential employer needs to focus on convictions, not arrests. Federal criminal records are generally not available to private employers, except banks. An employer is more likely to gain access to state criminal records if it can show a genuine need for the information.
When an employer includes a credit report in its hiring process, it must inform the job seeker in writing that a credit report may be used as part of the screening process. The job seeker must indicate in writing that he or she authorizes the employer to obtain a credit report. If you are rejected for a job because of a poor credit report, the employer must have a job-related reason for using bad credit as a reason for rejection.
If you have been given a psychological or personality test, your employer should request information from the exam that relates to position for which you’re applying. For example, if you have applied for a position as a bank examiner or auditor, the employer should request test results that relate to honesty or integrity rather than information on emotional or psychological problems that do not relate to your ability to do the job.
In all cases, your potential employer should be able to explain why it wants the information (how does it relate the job for which you’re applying?) and to whom it will be distributed. Access to your employment application and test results should be limited to those individuals who need the information to make an employment decision.