Some employers in Florida are required to perform criminal background checks on applicants before they can extend job offers to them. Florida's Department of Law Enforcement and Division of Criminal Justice Information Services maintain criminal history records and provide criminal background information upon request. Employers must pay the fee for the request, which is $24, as of 2010.
State Background Check Law
In August 2010, the Florida Legislature passed a law that requires specific types of employers to perform criminal background checks on all job applicants within five days of receiving their applications. Some of the types of employers include health care providers, schools, day cares, and senior citizen homes. The law is primarily designed to protect children and the elderly -- referred to as "vulnerable persons" -- from people who have been convicted of violent or sexual crimes. Employers that do not serve such persons may conduct criminal background checks, but they are not required to by law. If the background check reveals past convictions, the law specifies whether the applicant must be disqualified from employment.
Florida state law protects all job applicants' confidentiality in relation to background checks. Information obtained through the background check may only be used to determine whether an applicant meets the state's legal minimum requirements for employment. However, employers may release this information to other employers upon request. If an employee quits and then gets a new job, his new employer may request his background check information from his former employer. The law protects the former employer from any liability related to the release of the information.
The state's background check laws are meant to protect employees and vulnerable persons from job applicants who have violent criminal pasts. If an employer performs the background check in accordance with Florida law and the applicant is determined to be hirable, but later commits a violent crime, the employer is protected from lawsuits that accuse him of negligent hiring. As long as the employer has followed the law in performing the criminal background check, the law protects him.