Guide to Ohio Background Checks

Danielle Hubein
June 30, 2023
5 min read

From criminal and driving records, to education and employment verification, Ohio employers may use background checks to learn more about a candidate’s history. But navigating federal, state, and local background check laws can be a challenge. Here’s what employers need to know about how to run an Ohio background check.

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Types of Ohio background checks for employment

Ohio employers often use pre-employment background checks to make more informed hiring decisions. Background checks help hiring managers ensure both job candidates and volunteers are qualified and eligible for the role. Screening can also help maintain a safer work environment and mitigate risk. Depending on the industry, an Ohio state background check may also be required by law. For example, Ohio state law requires that schools, day care centers, and healthcare facilities conduct background checks of candidates during the hiring process.

Here is a closer looks at some of the common types of Ohio background checks:

  • Ohio criminal background checks search a candidate’s criminal history – which may include federal, state, or county criminal records – to show felony or misdemeanor convictions.
  • Driving record checks search Ohio’s state motor vehicle records for a candidate’s driving history, including their license class and status, moving violations, accidents, and vehicle-related convictions.
  • Credit checks look into a candidate’s credit history, such as their credit report, bankruptcies, payment history, and accounts in collections.
  • Education verification confirms a candidate’s academic history, including schools attended, dates of attendance, and degrees earned.
  • Employment verification validates a candidate’s job history, including past employers, length of employment, and positions held.
  • Civil searches search a candidate’s civil court records, including judgements, lawsuits, liens, and restraining orders.
  • Drug tests may screen for the presence of certain prescription drugs, controlled substances, or alcohol.

How far back do background checks in Ohio go?

There are generally no Ohio state laws restricting how far a background check can go. However, there are several considerations for certain types of background checks. For example, Ohio motor vehicle record abstracts, for both commercial and non-commercial drivers, have a 3-year lookback period.

Additionally, background checks done through a consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Checkr, must follow the regulations of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA restricts non-conviction information reported by a CRA to a 7-year lookback period which includes arrests, civil judgments, tax liens, and most credit report information. It excludes bankruptcies, which may be reported for up to 10 years and criminal convictions, which may be reported indefinitely. If a candidate’s expected salary is $75,000 or higher or if searches are conducted by the employer themselves, these limitations may not apply.

The FCRA look-back restrictions also do not apply to criminal convictions, employment history, and education verification.

How long does a background check take in Ohio?

Turnaround times for an Ohio background check vary depending on the type of screening and whether you choose to partner with a CRA. Employers that handle pre-employment background checks on their own, however, may find the process more time-consuming.

Other factors can affect timelines, including how and where the records are stored and the scope of the screening. While some records may be quickly accessible online, other types of records may need to be requested by phone, mail, or in person.  Using a CRA, like Checkr, provides employers access to thousands of databases and public records as well as court runners across the US.

With Checkr, database screenings, such as Checkr’s National Criminal Records Checks and SSN Trace, are quick to process and generally only take a few seconds to complete. Checkr ETA uses machine learning to predict accurate turnaround times for county searches to provide transparency for employers and candidates alike.

Can you get a free background check in Ohio?

Ohio allows free public access to certain databases, including some criminal records, public records, and arrest records. However, in many cases these resources only offer limited information.

There are several record types available for a small fee. These include motor vehicle records through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and fingerprint-based criminal records through Ohio’s WebCheck, a system of databases provided by the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. However, it’s worth noting that these checks are limited to Ohio criminal records only and may be outdated. For national fingerprint-based criminal histories, employers should consider working directly with the FBI.

Partnering with a CRA can help employers obtain more thorough and accurate criminal records as well as other types of reports that may not be accessible to the general public. Working with a CRA typically requires companies to pay per background check, but discounts may be available for bulk orders and new customers.

How to get a background check in Ohio

Ohio employers have the option to conduct Ohio state background checks directly with law enforcement agencies and courthouses or partner with a qualified CRA. When working with a CRA, employers often experience a more efficient process – with faster turnaround times and more accurate, comprehensive reporting. A CRA can also help support employers with federal, state, and local compliance.

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Ohio background check laws

There are currently several statewide Ban the Box laws that apply to public sector employers conducting criminal background checks in Ohio. There are also local Ban the Box and fair hiring laws, which may also apply, depending on the city or country. To stay compliant and avoid potential risks, Ohio employers may wish to comply with the strictest Ohio employment background check laws during pre-employment checks.

Ban the Box laws

Summary: Under Ohio’s Fair Hiring Act, public sector employers are prohibited from inquiring about a candidate’s criminal history on job applications. Some exceptions may apply to this Act for positions that deal with at-risk populations, such as children and the elderly, allowing employers to inquire about any felony convictions early on. Felony convictions also cannot be used against certain classes of public employees unless the conviction occurs while the person is employed in the civil service or an exception applies. See law.

Summary: Under Ohio state law, employers are prohibited from asking about a candidate’s sealed arrest or other non-conviction records. Candidates are also allowed to respond to employer questions as if the sealed arrests or other non-convictions never occurred. See law.

Summary: Under HR-29, public sector employers that decide not to hire a candidate due to information discovered on the criminal background check must first conduct an individualized assessment before taking adverse action. See law.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Summary: Ohio employers that choose to work with a CRA to conduct Ohio background checks for employment must comply with federal regulations under the FCRA. This includes providing the candidate with proper disclosure of the intent to perform a background check, obtaining written consent to do so, and following the adverse action process if the results of a background check impact the employer’s hiring decision. See law.

Fair hiring laws

Local Ban the Box laws apply in Ohio counties and cities, all relating to public sector hiring, as follows:

  • Alliance: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Akron: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Canton: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Cincinnati: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Cleveland: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Cuyahoga County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Dayton: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Franklin County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Hamilton County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Lucas County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Massillon: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Newark: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Summit County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Warren: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Youngstown: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.

Get an Ohio background check with Checkr

Partnering with a trusted background check provider, like Checkr, can help employers conduct Ohio state background checks more efficiently, resulting in quicker turnaround times and reduced time-to-hire. Checkr offers multiple background check options to meet your business needs, while our modern technology creates a streamlined experience for human resources teams and candidates alike. Built-in tools help support compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Get started.

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Disclaimer

The resources and information provided here are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Always consult your own counsel for up-to-date legal advice and guidance related to your practices, needs, and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the author

As Compliance Manager, Danielle analyzes the ever-changing laws and regulations affecting background screening to ensure that Checkr and its customers stay compliant. She also writes content to educate employers about background checks, screening best practices, and fair hiring laws. 

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