Employers must balance their need to obtain background information on applicants and their right to privacy.
Employers have the obligation to protect their customers, visitors, and employees, so the background search goes beyond merely looking for a good employee. But applicants' right to privacy is the law and breaching it may get employers in trouble. These rights apply to requests for transcripts, credit reports, criminal records, passwords, and even aptitude tests and drug tests.
Applicants also have a right to privacy regarding their private lives, such as smoking, drinking, and legally smoking marijuana. Employers must have a convincing business purpose before rejecting someone for their off-duty personal lifestyle.
Federal laws like the Fair Credit Reporting and state laws have strict guidelines that employers must be familiar with.