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Texas law on background checks for minors

by on
in Employment Background Check,Human Resources

Q. We do background checks on all applicants. I know the Fair Credit Reporting Act says we have to get the applicant’s permission. We hire some employees under age 18. Is there anything special we need to do? — A.G.

A. Probably. In order to obtain background information from a third-party service, you must obtain the applicant’s consent. As a general rule, consents are governed by the law of contracts.

In Texas, contracts with minors (those under 18) are voidable. (Although, in a decidedly different context, a Texas court held that a consent given by a 17-year-old to participate in a spring-break video that involved “flashing” her breasts was not valid unless the producer justifiably had relied on her representation that she was 21.)

To be safe, the wiser course would be to have the parents or guardian of any minor applicant sign the necessary consent form for the background check, as well as the minor. As a practical matter, the information you obtain—particularly on criminal matters—may be very limited because of how juvenile offenses are reported. However, it's wise to treat minor applicants the same as others and go through the same pre-hire procedures. 

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