Guide to Oklahoma Background Checks

Kate Rhodes
March 19, 2024
8 min read

Oklahoma state background checks are often an integral part of the hiring process for employers. They can provide more information about a candidate’s background and help employers verify a candidate’s qualifications for a role. State, local, and federal hiring laws establish compliance requirements for organizations requesting employment background checks. Employers must understand these compliance requirements to protect candidates’ rights and mitigate the risk of costly violations.

Let’s look at what you need to know about types of screenings, background check laws, and how to order reports when conducting a background check in Oklahoma.

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What is an Oklahoma background check?

A background check in Oklahoma is the process of conducting screenings and ordering records that provide information about a job candidate’s background. This may include criminal history, credit history, education, driving history, previous work experience, drug use, and more. Employers may conduct these screenings themselves, but many choose to work with a qualified background check provider to increase the speed and accuracy of their reports.

The types of Oklahoma background checks an organization orders depend on the roles they want to fill and their hiring policies. For example, employers who hire commercial drivers may perform a driving record check to look at an individual’s driving record—particularly to verify that a candidate has the proper driver’s license type and a satisfactory safety history. 

Employers also frequently check an individual’s criminal history to confirm they don't have any relevant past convictions that could disqualify them from a position. For instance, a volunteer position in OK working with vulnerable populations, like children or seniors, often requires a criminal background check.

Why do employers need to run background checks in Oklahoma?

Employers may run an Oklahoma background check for employment to help them mitigate risk in their work environment, meet legal requirements for their industry or the role, and decide if a candidate has the right qualifications. Organizations often tailor the type of background screenings they conduct to the roles they need to fill and related policies.

For example, an employer may want to hire a candidate with a specific employment background and educational history for a specialized role (like accounting). A background check may help employers learn more about a candidate’s history, and help verify that the information included on a resume or provided in an interview is accurate. In safety-sensitive industries, like healthcare and transportation, background checks can help confirm that a candidate has proper licensing and does not have any relevant criminal convictions that indicate their employment could put vulnerable populations or the public at risk. 

In some situations, background checks are required by law, and organizations must complete pre-employment (and sometimes recurring) background checks. Industries that often require background checks include those that work with vulnerable populations (like children or healthcare patients), commercial driving and trucking, and financial services. These types of regulations can change over time, so employers may want to work with their legal counsel to update their hiring practices regularly to enable compliance.

What shows up on an Oklahoma background check?

Some common items that show up on an Oklahoma pre-employment background check include criminal history, driving history, past employment details, credit history, drug use, and education history. The exact information and records included in a background check will depend on employer policies and regulations that apply to the employer and candidate’s locations.

Here are some types of OK background screenings and what may show up on each:

  • Criminal background checks in Oklahoma examine a candidate’s criminal history—including unsealed felony and misdemeanor convictions, arrest records that lead to convictions, sex offender registry status, and pending criminal cases.
  • Motor vehicle records (MVRs) show a candidate’s driving history. This may include citations, accidents, license status, and class of license.
  • Credit checks examine a candidate’s financial history and may show employers their payment history, number of bankruptcies, collection accounts, tax liens, and other relevant financial information.
  • Employment verification looks at a candidate’s employment history to confirm information like past employers, positions, and employment dates.
  • Education verification allows employers to review a candidate’s education history and may include a list of schools they attended, degrees earned, and dates of attendance.
  • Civil court searches allow employers to review a candidate's non-criminal court records, like civil court cases, lawsuits, liens, work disputes, breach of contract, and other civil legal matters.
  • Drug testing checks for the presence of certain controlled substances in a candidate’s system and may identify past drug use.

What disqualifies candidates from employment?

What may disqualify a candidate from employment following a background check depends on the nature of the job, employer policies, and relevant federal, state, and local laws. 

Compliance requirements can be a disqualifying factor, in some cases. For instance, if a candidate would interact regularly with specific sensitive populations in their job duties, a company may be required by industry rules to disqualify a candidate with criminal history showing prior convictions relevant to their job duties may put that population at risk. In cases like this, OK employers can look to laws like the Oklahoma State Department of Education background check rules and legislation, which may disqualify potential school employees who have been convicted of certain felony offenses.

Employer policies may also outline instances where the results of a background check could result in disqualification. Some hiring teams may disqualify a candidate if their employment history and educational background cannot be verified. Background check adjudicators may also look for records that are related to the position and could indicate a higher level of risk if that candidate were hired, even if disqualification is not required by law.

Ultimately, the decision to disqualify a candidate from employment lies with each individual employer.

How long does a background check take in Oklahoma?

The time it takes to complete an Oklahoma background check for employment depends on the type of check conducted, the number of checks needed, and whether you do the background check yourself or work with a consumer reporting agency (CRA). 

Conducting a background check yourself can be time-consuming, especially when using manual processes that could slow down results and increase the potential for error. You may need to file requests with the correct state agencies, contact past employers, find professional reference contacts, and more. You’ll also need to wait for each entity to respond and fulfill your request. Plus, candidate communication will fall on your team’s shoulders. To keep top candidates from dropping out of your funnel, your hiring managers may need to provide swift and transparent updates to candidates throughout the process. 

Working with a CRA, like Checkr, can help you speed up and streamline the background check process—taking manual, time-intensive work off your hiring team’s plate. Checkr’s automated background check technology, supported by human verification, can reduce turnaround times, simplify compliance workflows, and help make sure you have the information you need to make informed hiring decisions. 

With Checkr, 89% of criminal background checks (including county searches) are completed in under one hour. Plus, Checkr’s candidate portal keeps candidates informed about their background checks and helps you create a frictionless hiring experience.

How to get a background check in Oklahoma

Employers can get a background check in Oklahoma by requesting individual screenings from relevant agencies or by partnering with a background check provider to streamline the process. Performing a background check yourself means you may need to contact state agencies and courts, reach out to past employers and educational institutions, facilitate scheduling drug testing appointments, and more. If you partner with a qualified background check service, like Checkr, you may be able to reduce your team’s labor and screening turnaround times significantly.

Manual process for common screenings

OK employers can access the CHIRP portal online to request a criminal background check. To get an Oklahoma background check online, create an account for free, and enter candidate information on the CHIRP website. If an employer needs to request a fingerprint search, they can only mail the form or submit it in person. Employers in Oklahoma can also request criminal background checks by filling out a criminal history request form and faxing or mailing it to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Civil court records are also available to employers, who can visit the Oklahoma Civil Court Records website to view civil cases. Although the Oklahoma Open Records Act encourages public records, each judicial district is responsible for managing its records, which means you may only have access to some records digitally in the Oklahoma State Courts Network. You may have to contact your local court clerk to obtain a record.

In some cases, you’ll need to get a candidate’s written permission to access records. Driving records (MVRs), for example, require written consent from a candidate to the state of Oklahoma before they share information with a third-party reporting agency. Employers of CDL drivers are able to order OK MVRs online after receiving consent.

Working with a background check service

To save time and effort, employers often work with background check providers, like Checkr, to streamline the process.

Instead of tracking down each individual and agency, organizations rely on their CRA to do the heavy lifting. When you partner with Checkr, for example, you’re able to create customized background check packages and adjudication guidelines for every role you hire for—making it easy for your team to order and assess the correct reports. Our advanced data technology easily filters and sorts data for each candidate, helping you improve background check accuracy, encourage fair hiring, and hire faster at any scale.

Employers who work with a CRA will need to follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulations. This includes notifying job candidates of the intent to run a background check and receiving their written permission before conducting any screenings. Employers must provide a copy of the report to candidates and follow the adverse action process if they use information from a background check to disqualify a candidate from a position.

How far back do background checks go in Oklahoma?

How far back a state of Oklahoma background check can go depends on the type of record and whether you partner with a CRA to complete screenings. For example, a motor vehicle record check only returns the past three years of driving history in Oklahoma. Criminal background checks may show a lifetime of reportable conviction history. 

Oklahoma also introduced a Clean Slate law in 2022, and it goes into effect in 2025. Under this law, some convictions and non-convictions records will be eligible for automatic expungement after a certain period of time has passed. An expunged record will not appear on a background check report, but may still be available to law enforcement. How long it takes for a record to be automatically expunged and not appear on a background check varies based on the type of record. Ten years after a record has been expunged, it may be destroyed permanently.

Employers who work with CRAs to conduct background checks must also adhere to federal FCRA lookback limits. Under this law, information such as arrests, civil judgments, tax liens, and accounts in collections may only be reported for seven years.

There are some exceptions to FCRA lookback limits. Convictions may be reported indefinitely, and the FCRA lookback period for bankruptcies is 10 years. Lookback restrictions also may not apply for a position with a salary of $75,000 or more. The FCRA does not limit reporting for past employment or education verification.

How much does an Oklahoma background check cost?

The cost of an Oklahoma background check depends on the number and types of background checks your organization requires, and on whether you work with a background check provider. For criminal background checks ordered directly from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, you may pay $15 for a name-based search or $19 for a fingerprint-based search. For motor vehicle records, you might pay $25 each. Some civil cases are accessible for free online, but some jurisdictions require a fee to access a record not available to the public.

Employers should also calculate the cost of labor for running background checks on their own. It takes time for your hiring team to contact state agencies, past employers, educational institutions, drug testing facilities, and other sources of information. Employers may also need to regularly communicate with candidates about the processes, anticipated timelines, and screening results. 

Working with a CRA, like Checkr, can reduce your overall background check costs by automating manual tasks and speeding up screening workflows. Plus, customizable background check packages help you only pay for the checks you need for each position, at any scale. Checkr’s multi-lingual support team and candidate portal can also help you reduce time and labor costs by quickly resolving questions and keeping your background checks moving at top speed.

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Oklahoma background check laws and requirements

Employers in Oklahoma should remain compliant with Oklahoma employment background check laws. Some key laws to be aware of are Executive Order 2016-03, House Bill HB 3316, and Oklahoma Statutes § 40-556,  § 40-191, and § 40-173.2. Employers must also adhere to federal laws like the FCRA, and local hiring laws where they exist.

Here are a few of the most important Oklahoma background check requirements for employers. If you’re unsure of which laws apply to your hiring situation, you may wish to consult with your legal counsel.

Oklahoma Ban the Box Law: Executive Order 2016-03

Summary: Executive Order 2016-03 states that a state agency can’t ask about a job candidate’s criminal history on a job application. State agencies must wait until they conduct a job interview to inquire about criminal records. The law includes some exceptions, such as if a felony conviction would otherwise disqualify a candidate from a position. This requirement only applies to Oklahoma state agencies and doesn’t impact private organizations. See law.

Oklahoma Clean Slate Law: House Bill HB 3316

Summary: Although Oklahoma’s Clean Slate law doesn’t regulate background checks, it does automatically expunge certain convictions and non-conviction records, which impacts what employers may see returned on a criminal background check. Automatic expungement requirements depend on the nature of the charges and the length of time since they occurred. For example, if an individual with a non-violent felony conviction hasn’t been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in seven years, and five years have passed since they completed their sentence requirements, they may receive an automatic expungement for that conviction. See law.

Oklahoma Statute § 40-556

Summary: Oklahoma Statute § 40-556 regulates employment drug and alcohol testing and states that employers are responsible for the cost of the drug test. Exceptions may apply if an employee fails a test and wants a confirmation. In this situation, the job candidate must pay for the test. If a confirmation test differs from the original findings, then the employer must compensate the candidate for the cost of the test. See law.

Oklahoma Statute § 40-191

Summary: Oklahoma Statute § 40-191 covers cases where an employee must take a medical exam as a condition of employment. An employer must fully cover the exam's cost if the company requires it for current or future employment. See law.

Oklahoma Statute § 40-173.2

Summary: Oklahoma Statute § 40-173.2 covers employers’ access to social media information. Employers are prohibited from requesting information about a job candidate’s social media accounts, including usernames, passwords, and other authentication information.

Additionally, employers aren’t permitted to request access to private information from a candidate’s social media accounts. If information isn’t available on a public profile, employers aren’t allowed to ask about it. Retaliatory action isn’t allowed if an employer asks for this information and the candidate refuses. See law.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Summary: The FCRA requires a permissible purpose, like employment, to run a background check. Employers partnering with a CRA to conduct background checks must provide candidates with all relevant written disclosures and receive their consent in writing before running a background check.  If an employer uses information from a background check to disqualify a person from employment, they must follow the adverse action process. See law.

Local Oklahoma fair hiring laws

Some local Oklahoma counties and cities have laws that apply to background checks. These laws are typically Ban the Box laws, which regulate when employers may ask about a candidate’s criminal history during the hiring process.

  • Tulsa County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions in the county government.
  • Tulsa: A Ban the Box law applies to positions in the city government.

Get an Oklahoma background check from Checkr

A smooth, easy-to-complete background check process helps your team make confident hiring decisions. Partnering with Checkr can help you fill more roles faster, improve background check accuracy, and reduce manual, time-consuming tasks for your hiring managers. Plus, we have 100+ ATS and HRIS integrations that allow you to easily add Checkr to your existing tech stack. 

Checkr’s simplified background check ordering, adjudication, and compliance workflows modernize the background check process—helping you create an exceptional hiring journey for candidates you want on your team. Get started with Checkr today.

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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 Content Marketing Manager at Checkr, Kate is passionate about developing resources that educate employers and job candidates about background checks, hiring insights, and the opportunity to build a better future through fair chance hiring.

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