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Arkansas

"The Natural State" +"The People Rule"

Arkansas

Comprehensive Report on Employer and Tenant Background Check Laws in Arkansas

Introduction

Employer and tenant background checks are an essential part of the hiring and rental processes in Arkansas. These checks help employers and landlords make informed decisions about potential employees and tenants, ensuring safety, security, and protection of their businesses and properties. However, conducting background checks must be done in compliance with federal and state laws to protect the rights of individuals and prevent discrimination. This report aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the relevant laws and regulations concerning employer and tenant background checks in Arkansas.

1. Employer Background Check Laws

1.1. Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that governs the use of consumer reports, including background checks, by employers. In Arkansas, employers must comply with the FCRA when obtaining and using consumer reports for employment purposes. A consumer report may include information about an individual's credit history, criminal records, employment history, and other personal details.

Under the FCRA, employers are required to follow specific procedures when conducting background checks:

1.1.1. Obtaining Consent

Before obtaining a consumer report, employers must obtain written consent from the applicant or employee. The consent form should be a standalone document and not included with the job application. Additionally, the applicant must be informed that a background check will be conducted, and the report may influence employment decisions.

1.1.2. Disclosure of Rights

Employers are obligated to provide applicants with a copy of their rights under the FCRA before taking any adverse action based on the background check. Adverse action may include not hiring an applicant or terminating an employee due to the information in the background report.

1.1.3. Adverse Action Process

If an employer decides to take adverse action based on the background check, they must follow a specific process. The applicant or employee must be given a pre-adverse action notice, which includes a copy of the background report and a summary of their rights under the FCRA. After a reasonable time, the employer can proceed with the adverse action and provide a final adverse action notice.

1.2. Arkansas State-Specific Laws

In addition to federal laws like the FCRA, employers in Arkansas must also adhere to state-specific laws related to background checks:

1.2.1. Ban the Box Law

Arkansas does not have a statewide "Ban the Box" law, which would prevent employers from asking about an applicant's criminal history on the initial job application. However, some cities or counties in the state may have local Ban the Box ordinances, and employers should be aware of any local regulations that apply to their business.

1.2.2. Use of Arrest Records

In Arkansas, employers are prohibited from using arrest records alone as a basis for employment decisions. They may only consider convictions that are directly related to the job position or duties.

1.2.3. Expungement of Criminal Records

Arkansas law allows individuals to seek expungement of certain criminal records, meaning that the records are sealed from public view. Expunged records generally do not have to be disclosed to employers.

1.2.4. Credit Checks

Arkansas does not have specific laws restricting employers from using credit checks as part of their background screening process. However, employers must still comply with the FCRA's requirements when using credit reports.

2. Tenant Background Check Laws

2.1. Fair Housing Act (FHA)

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in the rental or sale of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. It applies to landlords, property managers, and housing providers, ensuring that all applicants are treated fairly during the tenant screening process.

2.2. Arkansas State-Specific Laws

2.2.1. Criminal History and Rental Housing

Arkansas does not have statewide laws or regulations regarding the use of criminal history in tenant screening. However, landlords must be cautious not to violate the Fair Housing Act when considering an applicant's criminal history. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued guidelines stating that blanket policies of rejecting all applicants with criminal records may have a disparate impact on certain protected classes and could be considered discriminatory.

2.2.2. Security Deposits

Arkansas law regulates security deposits, limiting the amount landlords can charge and requiring them to return the deposit within a certain timeframe after the tenant moves out. However, there are no specific regulations related to using background check results to determine security deposit amounts.

2.2.3. Eviction Records

Landlords in Arkansas can check an applicant's eviction history as part of the tenant screening process. Eviction records can be essential in assessing an applicant's rental history and potential risks as a tenant.

Conclusion

Employer and tenant background checks in Arkansas must be conducted in compliance with federal and state laws to protect the rights of individuals and ensure fair and equal treatment. Employers must follow the guidelines set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when using consumer reports for employment purposes. Additionally, employers should be mindful of any local ordinances that may affect their hiring practices.


For tenant background checks, while there are no specific statewide laws in Arkansas regarding the use of criminal history, landlords must still adhere to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to avoid discriminatory practices. They may consider an applicant's eviction history but should be cautious not to adopt blanket policies that may disproportionately impact certain protected classes.

Before conducting background checks, employers and landlords are encouraged to seek legal advice or consult with screening agencies that specialize in compliance with state and federal laws. Staying informed about evolving regulations and maintaining fair and consistent practices will contribute to a safer and more inclusive community for all individuals in Arkansas.

Arkansas Freedom of Information Act The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act is one of the strongest and most comprehensive open-records and open-meetings laws in the country. Public records in Arkansas are writings, sounds, or videos that “reflect(s) the performance or lack of performance of an official function.” Arkansans are given access to most government records and meetings. Arkansas government agencies have three business days to produce a record requested under the FOIA. Anyone who requests it can be provided with a notice of meetings. The news media covers special meetings. Closed sessions of governing bodies are only permitted under certain circumstances. An FOIA Handbook is available after every regular session of the General Assembly to aid Arkansans.
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