Q. I’ve always heard that Georgia does not require thatbe conducted on employees, except for certain types of employees who work with children or the elderly. Our new HR director believes that background checks are required for other employees as well. Who’s right? — W.P.
A. You are correct that the Georgia Legislature has designated only a few categories of employment as requiring background checks. On the other hand, based on a recent Georgia Supreme Court decision, your new HR director is correct that background checks are required for certain positions, regardless of whether the Legislature has imposed a statutory requirement.
In this regard, Georgia employers are obligated by law to exercise reasonable diligence in hiring employees to ensure that they do not impose a risk of harm to others. Depending on how safety-sensitive the position is, conducting background checks will often be viewed as a necessary component of exercising reasonable diligence—for example, when maintenance workers have keys to tenants’ apartments or repair technicians have to enter customers’ homes.