For a long time, running background checks in Kansas followed a very simple and straightforward process – though things started to change in late 2014 when Kansas City decided to change the way that they would handle Unified Government employment applications.
After that, a couple of other cities followed suit and began introducing their own Ban the Box initiatives. This led to a significant change in how the public sector handled its background checks, though it didn’t have quite as much of an impact on the private sector.
Over the last few years since then, we have seen more changes to the background check process in the state of Kansas.
Below we dig through a lot of those changes, highlighting why they were made when they were made, and what employers, individuals, and organizations looking to run background checks in Kansas really need to know and forward.
Let’s get right into it.
Kansas Background Check Info You Need to Know
As of May 2018, the Kansas governor signed an executive order (EO 18 – 12) that implemented “banning the box” rules and regulations on every single job application that the executive branch of the Kansas government was responsible for.
Up until that point, the only banning the box rules that had been instituted were the Kansas City rules we mentioned earlier, followed by the same kinds of rules instituted by Topeka in 2015, and then a year later when Johnson County decided to become the first County Kansas to institute these rules, too.
As of early 2021, however, the state of Kansas does not have any statewide rules or regulations pertaining to “banning the box”. They also have absolutely no “Fair Chance” laws in the state of Kansas that restrict how background checks are handled, either.
There are, though, seven-year rule restrictions on all criminal records that can be reported by the state of Kansas. These rules are in place for any salaried position offering $20,000 a year or less, and when this rule is triggered applicants need to be provided (within three business days) notification of such.
On top of that, employers that choose to deny employment based on the information they discover in a consumer report or a criminal background check are required to notify the applicant that they are denying (in writing) the reason behind the denial.
These employers must also provide either a copy of the report that they are using to make these decisions or information for the denied applicant to find that information, too.
Kansas also provides its citizens with the opportunity to petition the state court system to have some of their previous criminal history or convictions expunged or sealed.
The petitioning process is (generally) pretty simple and straightforward, and if the court system decides that these records can be expunged then the individual in question is able to respond lawfully and legally that they have not been in trouble with the law for those issues.
For all intents and purposes, it’s like those issues never happened and that they never showed up on a background check in the first place.
Kansas citizens are under no legal requirement whatsoever to disclose any of their criminal histories, even if they are asked directly.
The sole responsibility for conducting background checks falls on the shoulders of those interested in digging into this information – and they must abide by Kansas law as well as the federal laws laid out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Can Anyone Look Up Someone’s Background in Kansas?
In the state of Kansas, anyone (whether they live or work in the state of Kansas or not) has the legal right and opportunity to request public documentation without having to first explain why they are looking for those documents and that information, to begin with.
At the same, though, Kansas law allows staff members in the departments responsible for looking this information up the opportunity to deny that request.
Kansas law allows that to happen only when staff departments feel that the request would place “unreasonable burdens” on their department – though they have sole discretion to determine what unreasonable burdens are.
Kansas law also allows individuals working in these departments to reject a request for a background check of public records if they feel the check is designed to disrupt the workings of the state government.
To start any public records search, individuals and organizations need to submit Public Record Requests either through the mail, over email, or on the phone to the specific Kansas record-holding department that maintains those records themselves.
What Type of Info Shows Up on a Kansas Background Check?
The overwhelming majority of background checks processed by the Kansas state government (especially when it comes from potential employers) are checked into the criminal history of individuals in this state.
More and more employers are interested in checking the history of their applicants than ever before. Some studies suggest that nearly 95% of all businesses (small, medium, and large businesses alike) are conducting these kinds of searches now.
Criminal background searches in Kansas are handled by the Kansas Department of Correction. Some records, however, will be handled through the Kansas Bureau of Identification.
A lot of the information gathered by the Kansas Bureau of Identification will come directly from the Kansas Department of Corrections (as well as from police departments, sheriff departments, prosecutors, and courts throughout the state) – making some of the reporting a little redundant.
Regardless, the kind of information that can be found on these kinds of criminal records include (but are not limited to):
- Arrest records (last 12 months)
- Court convictions for any misdemeanors or felonies in the state of Kansas
- Court convictions for violations of municipal ordinances and county rules in Kansas
- Any confinement whatsoever in the Kansas Department of Corrections program
- Any active diversions
On top of that, it’s not unreasonable to find information related to:
- Name, physical description, and any mugshots
- Any Kansas Department of Corrections registration numbers
- Conviction descriptions
- Anticipated release dates from the DOC facilities in Kansas
- Any housing location information
- Custody and supervision levels
… As well as any information related to institutional disciplinary records that may exist.
Why Are Employers Running Background Checks in Kansas?
Employers throughout the state of Kansas are interested in running background checks for a variety of different reasons, but at the end of the day, these reasons all revolve around making sure that the best people for the job are hired and that the business is protected.
For example, employers like to run background checks to improve overall workplace safety.
By looking into the past of potential hires, employers and human resources are able to better spot “trouble issues” that may need further research based on an applicant’s criminal history.
The last thing any business wants to do is bring on potential violent offenders, especially if they are repeat offenders. At the same time, no business wants to hire new employees that have a considerable track record of workplace theft, for example.
On top of that, it wouldn’t make much sense for accountants to hire new professionals that have been convicted for embezzlement, would it?
Some of the employers out there are going to look into the background of their applicants specifically to avoid those kinds of legal issues and legal exposure that a new hire could bring to the table.
There aren’t too many employers that are interested in having to spend a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of resources, and a lot of PR to cover for new applicants that they haven’t yet invested a lot of resources in.
At the end of the day, employers are looking to run background checks to give themselves peace of mind but also to make sure that the people they are bringing on board are going to contribute positively to this workplace, this business, and the bottom line.
How Far Back Do Background Checks Reach?
In the state of Kansas, background checks are required to go back at least as far as seven years – though Kansas does maintain criminal records on a permanent basis.
This means that a juvenile record (while usually not accessible to employers without strict permission from the Kansas legal system), as well as any criminal issues that occurred as a teenager or as a young adult, are still going to be found on a Kansas background check.
The main exception here, however, is if a background check is being conducted on an individual that has been offered a job that pays $20,000 or less per year.
If that’s the case, then Kansas only allows background checks to go back as far as the past seven years from the date that the background check was initiated.
No records further back than that can be looked at, accessed, or used in the hiring process.
Kansas employers are not even able to ask applicants about any of the entries they might have had on their criminal history older than seven years from the day that the background check has been initiated.
How Do I Run a Kansas Background Check?
In Kansas, the overwhelming majority of records maintained by the state government – including criminal records – are considered “public”.
This means that they are fully accessible by anyone, in any state, and are available upon request outside of some exemptions and limitations.
Kansas does have 55 specific exemptions to their Kansas Open Records Act (as of early 2021, anyway).
The majority of these exemptions have to do with personal and private information, such as medical records, mental health records, adoption records, security protocols, any records having to do with open criminal investigations, and records that have to do with trade secrets.
A full list of exemptions can be found by contacting the Kansas Bureau of Identification. The agency or will be able to clue you in on whether or not the information you are looking for is exempted.
If the information that a background check is after is not exempted, then the Kansas Open Records Act pretty much guarantees access to those details.
The trick is finding out exactly which governmental agency are those records hiding!
Most of the records available through the Kansas Open Records Act are going to be accessed by contacting one of three organizations, and they are the:
- Kansas Bureau of Identification
- Kansas Department of Corrections
- Kansas Adult Supervised Population Electronic Repository
Other information can be accessed through the Kansas courts, though again those looking for this information are going to have to figure out where and which court will hold these records in the first place.
The Kansas Judicial Branch has been moving towards a more centralized case management system, but they do not expect this project to be completed by 2022 – and potentially 2023 (or even later).
This means that court records will have to be found at the court level that they were handled, and (sometimes) in the judicial district where they were handled, too. Those looking to conduct background checks might have to end up searching records held with municipal courts, district courts, the Kansas Court of Appeals, or the Kansas Supreme Court.
The Kansas Office of Judicial Administration and the Kansas Appellate Courts Case Inquiry System are both resources that individuals and organizations are going to want to take advantage of when going through court records.
They certainly helped speed the process up quite a bit.
Vital records – including birth records, marriage records, divorce records, and death records – are maintained by the Kansas Office of Vital Statistics. This department will have to be contacted directly for that kind of data.
Kansas has a fantastic reputation for completing background checks rather quickly. On average, it takes anywhere between 72 hours (three business days) for Kansas to get you the information you have requested through your background check application.
Records that have not been returned or responded to within seven business days are probably going to need a phone call to the right record holding organization to move things along.
Often times a quick phone call helps to get your application “unstuck”, though you may have to clear up some of the information provided on your application.
In the event that you have requested information that is exempted from the Kansas Open Records Act, you’ll be denied – though you will be told why those records have been denied.
How Much Do Background Checks in Kansas Cost?
Though the background check processing in Kansas is simple and straightforward (not to mention very quick), these background checks are not available 100% free of charge.
No, each background check – each individual background check – is going to cost $20.
You can use your credit or debit card (most of the time) to pay these fees, though you may have to write a check or money order to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. That really depends on the kinds of records and reports you are looking for.
Are There Background Checks for Firearms in Kansas?
The state of Kansas, like every other state in the US, requires every individual purchasing a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer to submit to a background check through the National Instant Background Check System (NICS).
All firearms purchased through these dealers will only go through after Form 4473 has been filled out by the buyer and submitted to the FBI for a check. Most of the process is automated, though if there are any “red flags” along the way the FBI may delay the transaction for a closer inspection.
After that, it’s up to the FBI to deny or approve the transaction.
Sometimes this happens almost immediately (quick phone call from the NICS agents to the FFL dealer giving the green light on the transaction), but sometimes it takes a day or two – if not even longer.
According to federal firearm control Brady Laws, if the delay lasts for longer than three business days the transaction can move forward.
From there, it’s up to the FBI and the ATF to complete the background check and approve the transaction or contact the individual buyer and request that they surrender the firearm if they aren’t legally able to own that firearm.
Kansas does not have any laws related to concealed carry licenses or permits, or any firearm ownership or purchase licenses or permits. As of July 1, 2015, Kansas became a “Constitutional Carry” state.
What About Kansas Driving Records?
Background checks looking to dig into a Kansas driving record are going to have to be handled by the Kansas Department of Revenue and the Kansas DMV.
An application (available from the DMV website) needs to be filled out and then it has to be turned in – in-person – to a local Kansas DMV office.
Individuals can also choose to mail this form in by using the address below:
Kansas Department of Revenue
Driver Control Bureau
P.O. Box 12021
Topeka, KS 66612-2021
Individuals that want to search their own driving record on the Kansas Motor Vehicle Records website can do so, but it’s impossible for anyone to look up someone else’s driving record – including employers looking into the driving record of potential employees.
Just know that the online driving record is somewhat truncated (it’s called the limited driving record).
For a full record, everyone needs to go through the process described a moment ago.
Can I Search Kansas Sex Offender Records?
Kansas provides full and total access to absolutely anyone interested in searching the Kansas Sex Offender Records.
All someone has to do is visit the sex offender record website (found here https://www.kbi.ks.gov/registeredoffender/) and then use the online tools provided to go through the actual search process.
This is available 100% free of charge, without restriction, and is regularly updated by the Kansas Bureau of Identification.
How Do I Get Credit History During a Background Check?
Credit report information and credit history details do not usually show up in a traditional background check, though employers may request this kind of information depending on the position or career applicants are looking to be approved for.
All financial information of this nature will need to be requested from the three major credit bureaus responsible for maintaining this data, to begin with.
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion have their own specific background check process that needs to be followed, and they outline this information very clearly as soon as you contact them for more details.
Just know that anyone looking to find this information to be used to vet a job applicant needs to abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and all the rules and regulations outlined within. This includes getting written, signed consent for looking into this kind of information from the job applicant themselves.