Are you looking for information about background checks in Kentucky? Then you have found the right place! Our in-depth article gives you everything you need to know about background check laws, how to get them, what shows up, and everything in between!
Background Check Laws in Kentucky
The Kentucky Open Records Act stipulates that anyone (i.e. the public) can access public records of government bodies at all levels in the state of Kentucky.
The state takes an incredibly expansive view as to what qualifies as a “public record”. According to the Kentucky Open Records Act, everything including books, papers, photos, cards, discs, recordings, documents, software, and more that are owned, made, and used by public agencies are public records.
However, there are certain exemptions that are stated in Kentucky ORA 61.878. The exemptions are as follows:
- Scientific research and data
- Donation records where the donor wanted to remain anonymous
- Any records that would compromise the security of individuals or infrastructure
- Police investigations that would comprise undercover officers or informants
- Commercial records that would result in unfair competitive advantage
- Initial recommendations to change certain policies or laws
- Public records stating an individual’s personal information that would be regarded as an undue invasion of privacy
As long as you aren’t looking to acquire any of the above, the Kentucky Open Records Act allows anyone, state-resident or not, to access them.
Alongside this, the Kentucky ORA defines a public agency as all government bodies (both local and state) and organizations that receive over ¼ of their funding from the public. This includes private entities and public universities from which 25% of their funding comes from the government or public.
Interestingly, if you request records from an agency that does not hold the correct documents, they have a legal obligation to notify the agency that does hold them.
As far as fees go, the Kentucky Open Records Act states that there might be a fee for acquiring documents for non-commercial reasons. However, this charge will only be for the copies produced and not for the staff’s time. If a commercial request is submitted, then additional fees might be added to cover the staff’s search and duplication time.
The state’s law defines a three-day limit on public record requests. Extensions can be granted if the reason behind the extension is not to purposefully delay the proceedings and it is set out in writing to the requester.
If a record request is denied, you can appeal it by asking Kentucky’s Attorney General to review the decision. The Attorney General then has 20 days to provide a written decision.
The state must also abide by the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) for background checks. This ensures that consumer reporting agencies do not reveal civil suits, records of arrest, or tax liens that are over 7 years old.
Where employee background checks are concerned, the KRS 336.220 (Kentucky Revised Statutes) states that no employer can ask their employee to pay for a medical exam nor any record checks. Plus, KRS 367.000 states that credit reporting agencies can only hold criminal charge files if the case is concluded in a conviction.
At the moment, there aren’t any state-wide ban-the-box laws in Kentucky. However, Louisville has to abide by this law when dealing with public employees and vendors.
What Are Ban-the-Box Laws?
These laws prevent employers from asking about a person’s criminal record on the preliminary job application.
What Shows Up On a Background Check in Kentucky?
Kentucky-specific background checks will uncover potentially decision-making information about local criminal convictions. Generally speaking, this data isn’t returned on federal searches.
If you are hiring new employees in Kentucky, the records pulled in the search will come from a database known as CourtNet. This covers the entire state of Kentucky and is owned and operated by the Administrative Office of the Courts. The database has approximately 4 million records. These documents will show information from every county (all 120 of them!).
The Kentucky State Police also have a database similar to CourtNet. However, if you want to search this, you will have to gain a signature of consent from the person being searched.
When conducting a criminal background check in Kentucky, you can found out a bunch of information including the basics (date of birth, full name, etc.). Generally speaking, it will return the following:
- Kentucky county where the case was made
- Case number
- The charge
- Whether any changes were made to the charge
- Date of the charge
- Date of disposition
- Notes defined by the circuit court clerk
Depending on the type of case you find, it will be determined by a different letter. If you see a “T” it is a traffic violation, an “M” represents a misdemeanor, “F” is for felonies, and “CR” represents a case that was dealt with in the local circuit court.
It’s also worth remembering that any pending criminal cases aren’t reported.
The Search Restrictions
There are some restrictions placed on employers in Kentucky that could alter the information raised when conducting your search.
Kentucky Private Employers
If you are a private employer, the records you will not be able to access are those that have been expunged by the court. In other words, records that have been completely removed. Apart from that, the Kentucky state doesn’t prevent you from asking about conviction or arrest records when hiring.
Kentucky Public Employers
If you are a public employer, Kentucky laws do prevent you from using conviction records during the employment process. The only time you will legally be able to make an employment decision based on criminal records is when the conviction resulted in a felony or specific misdemeanors.
While the “specific misdemeanors” can be rather broad, they have to meet the following criteria to be used:
- Concluded in jail time
- Relates directly to the employment type the candidating is seeking
- Involved moral turpitude
Alongside all of this, a select bunch of public employers is limited in the timing of their background searches. Why? Because of an order passed in February 2017.
State-level, executive employers can only conduct a criminal background check once the individual has been accepted for an interview. Put simply, the Louisville ban-the-box law that we discussed earlier applies here.
What Do Employee Background Checks Look For In Kentucky?
There are various types of employment screening checks, all of which report different bits of information to your potential employer. Depending on the type they decide to run, your employer will be looking for different things.
However, it’s worth noting that the state of Kentucky protects you from any misconduct when using the information found on your background check (EEOC aka the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the FCRA aka the Fair Credit Reporting Agency). Plus, it ensures that you will never have to pay for any part of the searches conducted on you.
With that being said, here’s what your potential employer may be looking for when running a background check:
- A reference check — Generally, this is a character reference from your previous employer or other school teachers.
- Standard qualification/educational check — Sometimes, people over-embellish the qualifications they received. This check allows employers to establish whether you’ve told the truth.
- Criminal records check — Depending on the type of job you’re applying for ban-the-box laws and other restrictions (discussed in previous sections) will apply.
- Right to work check — This determines whether you have a legal right to work in the United States of America and the state of Kentucky.
- Identity check — Arguably, this is the most basic one. It proves that you are who you say you are.
- Employment history and gap check — Like education, people can over-embellish their previous employment. Additionally, if large gaps are seen on your resume, these will be investigated.
- Driving record checks — Not all employers will do this. It depends on the job role you’re applying for.
- Social media screening — This one is the easiest since most social media profiles are public and a simple Google search will return results. Your employer’s findings act as the purest form of character reference.
- Durg and alcohol screening — This depends on the job role you’re applying for.
Why Do Employers Run Background Checks in Kentucky?
While you know what your employer in Kentucky will be looking for now, you must understand why they are checking all of these things.
Under the EEOC, they cannot unjustly use the information they find, nor can they treat you unfairly because of it. So, here are the reasons behind employee background checks.
Sometimes, people over-emphasize certain areas of their resumes to make themselves appear more attractive to employers. Whether it’s their qualifications or employment history, adding some sneaky non-existent experience or certificate might be all too easy.
Employers need to be sure that everyone is correctly qualified for the job role. To do this, they will run a background check to verify all of the claims you made.
Ensure a Safe Workplace
Companies and individuals who hire other people have a duty of care to their team. This care also extends to their customers and vendors.
If an employee was to cause intentional harm to another individual, the employer might face legal action for negligent hiring. So, they run background checks on all their applicants (when they aren’t legally restricted) to protect themselves and those around them.
Promote Honesty and Trust
If anything on a background check proves that you (i.e. the applicant) were misstating experience, your potential employer will undoubtedly question your honesty. At times, this can be enough to disqualify you from the job.
As we’ve mentioned, certain rules and regulations do need to be considered. However, no one will hire someone who they cannot trust.
How Far Back Do Background Checks in Kentucky Go?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act in Kentucky states that criminalities resulting in convictions can be reported as far back as seven years. However, any criminal records that did not result in convictions are restricted in this state and cannot, under any circumstances, be reported.
Non-convictions (i.e. the restricted reports in Kentucky) can be any of the following:
- Not-guilty verdicts
- Dismissed cases
- Abandonment of prosecution (this is known as nolle prosequi formally)
- Alternative adjudications (a program that allows charges to be dropped if the defendant meets certain criteria)
If an employer wants to find out about your bankruptcies, they will be able to find reports that are a maximum of ten years old. For tax liens and accounts placed for collection, however, they can be a maximum of only seven years old.
Other forms of “adverse information” can be reported for seven years too. You may want to note that general/neutral information like previous employment or your educational background does not constitute as adverse information. Even if the background check determines that you lied on your resume, it will still not be “adverse” under Kentucky’s laws.
The FCRA’s restrictions on this subject do not apply if the annual salary of your potential employment position will be more than $75,000. In Kentucky, this is known as the “Salary Cap Exception” on the “State Rules Register”.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Background Check in Kentucky?
According to the Kentucky Open Records Act, an agency must respond to a records request within three days. If the agency cannot abide by this legality, they may issue an extension within this three-day limit.
The extension request must not be for the purpose of delaying proceedings. Instead, the reason for the prolonged response must be justified in writing.
If the agency denies your request to access records in spite of the Kentucky Open Records Act, you can turn to the Attorney General.
To do this, you’ll need to send a copy of the initial records request and the written request denial. The Attorney General then has 20 days to decide and provide written proof of that decision.
If you feel that the Attorney General didn’t do his/her job correctly, then you can appeal it through your Circuit Court within 30 days from receiving the Attorney General’s final decision. If you fail to file it within 30 days then the Attorney General’s decision goes into effect.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Background Check For a Gun in Kentucky?
The federal law in the United States of America states that all federally licensed firearms dealers must conduct a background check on each person before they buy a gun.
Alongside this, the federal law gives states the option of acting as a “point of contact” state. This allows them to perform their own background checks for guns instead of going through the FBI (which takes a lot longer).
As it stands, Kentucky is not a point of contact state. Therefore, there are no state-based laws necessitating the provision of background checks by firearms dealers prior to a transaction. Because of this, Kentucky-based federally-licensed firearms dealers have to conduct background checks through the FBI. This can take a long time.
Private firearms sellers (i.e. those who are not licensed) do not have to conduct a background check before giving someone a gun.
The Brady Exemption
If you have a concealed weapons permit that was given to you on/after July 12, 2006, you are exempt from weapons background checks for five years. This is outlined in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives under the Brady Act.
Having said that, it’s worth remembering that these laws can change without giving notice so it’s always best to check.
How to Get a Background Check in Kentucky
For those of you who wish to request a Kentucky criminal background check, you can do so electronically from the AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts). The process is relatively easy and can be done through purely digital means. Just follow these steps:
- Go to courts.ky.gov
- Click “Obtain a Criminal Record Report”
- Navigate to “AOCFastCheck”
- Click “Register”
- Fill out the form
- Click “Register”
- Go to your emails and click the link in the verification message
- Go to the AOCFastCheck website
- Log in
- Click “AOC FastCheck”
- Click “Click Here to Add a New Batch”
- Fill out the information
- Once you’re done, click “Add to Batch”
- Click “Submit”
- Click “Pay Now”
- Click “Pay Online”
- Fill out your information
- Click “Continue”
- You’re done!
After you have finished that, you’ll receive an email when the records you have requested are ready. You can also log into your FastCheck profile to track the status of your order.
Is It Worth Using a Third-Party Background Check Company?
In a word, yes! Using a third-party background screening company takes a lot of the stress off your back.
There are a bunch of third-party background check companies in Kentucky (see the list below), all of which can contact the relevant public agencies on your behalf. This makes the process a lot smoother for you as you’ll know that everything is conducted in accordance with the relevant laws, and the information has been gleaned from the right place.
Here are just a few third-party companies that can help make your background-screening life easier:
- Shield Screening
- Kress Employment Screening
- Accurate Screens
- AAIM Check
- Nationwide Screening Services
- CourtHouse Concepts
- Kemit Group LLC
- CIC The Power of Decision
- Vantage Point
- Hire Image
- Candid Research
What Should You Do If The Information Found On Your Background Check Is Wrong?
Sometimes, the information on your background check is incorrect. As you may well know, this can ruin lives and prevent deserving people from acquiring the job of their dreams.
Thankfully, there is a route you can take if you realize that your background screening information is wrong in Kentucky.
Step One: Talk to Your Employer
State the errors on your report. Make sure you tell them that you are going to be filing a dispute with the agency under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).
Sadly, the FCRA doesn’t ask that the employer hold the job open for you. But, some people might be willing to wait for you to resolve the errors.
Step Two: File a Dispute
You’ll then need to call the agency that conducted your background check. Ensure you tell them about the errors.
Your call should then be followed by the information in writing. You’ll need to mail it via certified mail and ensure you attach a return receipt request. Make sure you submit the information that backs up your points (include copies of documents that might be needed).
Once the background check company receives your letter, they have a maximum of 30 days to look into the errors. Then, they get an extra 5 days to get back to you with the conclusion.
In some cases, they won’t be able to verify the information on your screening so the information has to be deleted. If this relates to you, the check company should send you a revised report (as well as your potential employer).
As A Last Resort — Sue
Unfortunately, some background screening companies simply won’t comply. Don’t worry, this is pretty rare. However, it’s vital you know what to do in this scenario.
Of course, suing the background check agency should be your last resort. Plus, you should always speak to a consumer or employment lawyer to talk about your case first. You can find proper information regarding suing entities on the National Employment Lawyers Association website.
Are There Any Free Background Checks in Kentucky?
There are no free background check services offered in Kentucky since they are dealt with and processed by the Kentucky State Police.
If you are conducting a name-based search, you will pay $20 and a fingerprint-based search costs $30 since they are more accurate and in-depth.
Anyone can request a name-based search under the Kentucky Open Records Act.
Fingerprint searches, however, are reserved for entities that have a special statute for requesting a background check. They are not conducted by the Kentucky State Police unless a specific (and valid) reason is stated).