Guide to Oregon Background Checks

Jennifer Brozic
December 12, 2023
7 min read

An Oregon background check is a valuable tool that helps hiring managers determine whether candidates are qualified for a position. Pre-employment background screenings may include checking a candidate's criminal history, motor vehicle records, employment history, credit reports, and more. While background checks are important to help employers make more informed hiring decisions, maintaining compliance with evolving local, state, and federal guidelines can sometimes be challenging. In this guide, we will dive into what you need to know about conducting background checks in Oregon.

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What is a Oregon background check?

An Oregon background check provides information about a job candidate's history that may not have appeared during other parts of the application process. Depending on the scope of the screening, it may include a search of public records, databases, and other sources of information to verify a person's employment history, academic background, criminal history, driving record, and more.

Oregon law may require employers in certain industries—including those who work with children, seniors, people with disabilities, and people with mental illness—to conduct background checks on prospective employees and volunteers. The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) must also conduct background checks on job candidates and volunteers. Certain employees who work for organizations that contract with ODHS or OHA must also have a background check in Oregon.

Any employer may conduct background checks, and many do even if they’re not required by law. Pre-employment background screenings can help employers confirm the eligibility and qualifications of candidates, reduce organizational risk, and protect their brand. Employers can conduct a background check directly or partner with a qualified consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Checkr

Employers may choose the scope of the search based on their needs, whether that’s a few selected screenings or a more comprehensive background check.

What shows up on an Oregon background check?

The information an Oregon pre-employment background check shows varies based on the type of screenings you conduct but may show criminal records such as misdemeanors and felonies, education and work history, and more. Employers conducting a background check in Oregon may run the following common searches to gather information about candidates:

    • Criminal background checks in Oregon search a person's criminal records and may include felony and misdemeanor convictions, infractions, arrest warrants, and pending criminal cases.

    • Education verification confirms the schools a candidate attended, enrollment dates, graduation dates, and degrees earned.

    • Employment verification gathers information on a candidate's previous employers, dates of employment, and job titles.

    • Driving record checks review a person's driving record, including their driving history, license status, safety record, eligibility to drive, and class of license.

    • Drug testing screens individuals for the use of alcohol, illegal drugs, and controlled substances.

    • Credit checks examine a person's credit reports, including their payment history, applications for credit, collection accounts, bankruptcies, and foreclosures. Oregon law only allows credit checks to be used during hiring in certain cases.

    • Civil court searches identify civil court records and can return information about non-criminal records, such as liens, judgments, lawsuits, and restraining orders.

The screenings you choose to run may depend on the position you’re hiring for and your industry’s requirements and regulations. For example, healthcare employers are often required to verify professional licenses and run a government sanctions check for certain positions. Other screenings, such as reference checks and recurring background checks for current employees, can help you minimize risk and stay compliant.

Oregon background check laws and restrictions

Oregon employers must adhere to federal hiring laws, a statewide Ban the Box law, applicable local Ban the Box laws, Oregon's Equal Pay Act, and other regulations designed to protect candidates from discrimination during the hiring process. 

Below is a more in-depth look at some of the background check laws that apply in Oregon and how they may affect your hiring practices. Employers may choose to comply with the strictest federal, state, and local regulations and fair-hiring laws, and you should consult with legal counsel to minimize your legal risk.

Oregon’s Ban the Box law 

Summary: Oregon has a statewide Ban the Box law that applies to most public and private employers. Under this law, employers cannot ask about a candidate's criminal history until they complete an initial interview. If the application process does not include an interview, you cannot look into a candidate’s criminal history until you make them a conditional offer of employment.

Exceptions to Oregon’s Ban the Box law include positions where the law automatically disqualifies applicants who have a criminal history, such as volunteers, law enforcement officials, and criminal justice jobs. See law.

ORS 659A.320 

Summary: This Oregon law makes it illegal for employers to run credit checks on job candidates in most situations. Exceptions include federally insured banks and credit unions, employers screening applicants for public safety officer roles, and positions where an applicant’s credit history is “substantially related” to their work. Some employers are required by law to run credit checks on certain candidates. This law does not apply in those circumstances. See law

ORS 659A.030 

Summary: Under this law and federal law, it is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant because of their race, national origin, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, physical or mental disability, military status, or marital or family status. ORS 659.A030 also prohibits employers from requiring candidates to provide information identifying themselves as a member of a protected class. See law

ORS 659A.550

Summary: This Oregon law helps protect unemployed job seekers from discrimination during the application process. Companies may verify a candidate’s previous employment history, education, professional licenses, and other credentials to ensure they are qualified for the position. However, employers cannot require candidates to be currently employed as a condition of receiving a job offer. See law.

Equal Pay Act

Summary: Oregon's Equal Pay Act (ORS 652.210 - 652.235) states that employers cannot use a candidate’s salary history to determine their salary for the new position. You can only ask candidates about their pay in previous roles once you make them an offer that includes compensation information. See law

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Employers that complete Oregon background checks by partnering with a CRA must adhere to regulations outlined in the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under the FCRA, employers must let candidates know in writing that they are conducting a background check and receive written consent from the candidate before beginning the check. Employers must also give candidates a summary of their rights. If you decide not to proceed with an employment offer because of information in a background check, you should follow the adverse action process. See law.

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Local Oregon fair hiring laws 

In addition to the statewide Ban the Box law, local Ban the Box laws apply in certain Oregon counties and cities, including:

    • Multnomah County: A Ban the Box law applies to public employers in the county.

    • Portland: A Ban the Box law applies to public and private employers in the city.

How long does a background check take in Oregon?

Turnaround times for an Oregon state background check vary based on the type of screenings you conduct, the scope of your search, and whether you complete the check in-house or work with a third-party background check provider (also referred to as a CRA).

In Oregon, when you request someone else's criminal records through Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), the person receives a notification and has 14 days to review the results to ensure they are accurate. According to CJIS, you will receive notification when the 14-day waiting period begins, but you will not receive the results until the candidate reviews them or the 14-day period expires.

If a candidate does not have a criminal record or their record contains information unrelated to a conviction, you will receive a notice saying the individual has no record. 

Working with a CRA like Checkr can streamline getting an employment background check in Oregon so you can fill roles faster. The average time it takes to complete a background check when working with a CRA is three to five business days. However, 84% of Checkr's background check reports are completed in under 15 minutes. Checkr’s candidate portal also provides transparency into background check timelines, making tracking the progress of a check easy for candidates and your hiring team.

How far back do employment background checks go in Oregon?

How far back a background check goes depends on the type of records you’re searching. Unlike some states that limit the reporting of criminal records to seven years, criminal convictions can be reported indefinitely in Oregon (also permitted by the FCRA). However, if you request a criminal records check from the Oregon State Police, the reporting of arrest records is limited to one year from the time of the arrest.

If you request a motor vehicle report through the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services (DMV), the report may return information from the past ten years.

There are no legal restrictions on background check lookback periods when verifying a candidate's education history, employment history, or professional licenses.

If you work with a CRA, like Checkr, to conduct an employment background check in Oregon, the FCRA limits the reporting periods for certain types of checks for positions with an annual salary less than $75,000, such as:

    • Credit history checks are limited to seven years.

    • Bankruptcy checks can only be reported for ten years.

    • Civil suits, civil judgments, and arrest records that did not result in a conviction are limited to seven years.

    • Paid tax liens cannot be reported if they are more than seven years old.

    • Collection accounts can only be reported for seven years.

How to get a background check in Oregon

Employers can complete background checks internally or work with a qualified CRA, like Checkr. The process for completing the check depends on the type of screenings you include. If you’re completing a background check yourself, you can order many types of Oregon background checks online.

Here’s how to order a few common types:  

Employers can request a criminal records check through Oregon CJIS as part of a pre-employment screening. You can conduct a name-based check of a candidate by completing this form and mailing it with the processing fee to the Oregon State Police or by placing an order online through the Open Records portal.

Individuals may complete a fingerprint-based criminal records check on themselves. To request their own records, they can complete this form and submit it with a fingerprint form to the Oregon State Police.

You can search Oregon state trial, appellate, and tax court records online, but you need to pay a monthly subscription fee. Employers can also conduct an Oregon court records search of state circuit and tax courts for free. However, this will not include certain types of records, including mental health records and cases that fall under the Violence Against Women Act.

If you want to check references or verify a candidate's previous employment, education history, or professional licenses, you will need to contact the appropriate people or institutions to confirm the information the candidate provided during the application process.

Conducting each of these screenings manually can be time-consuming and increase the possibility of errors that can put your organization at risk. Many companies choose to partner with a professional background check provider, like Checkr, to take advantage of streamlined workflows that save time, help ensure consistency, and make compliance easier. Checkr’s advanced technology powers faster, safer background checks and allows you to customize screening workflows based on each position you hire, making it easier to order the checks you need.

How much does an Oregon state background check cost?

The cost to conduct an Oregon background check depends on the type of searches you include in your screening and who performs it. Employers conducting background checks directly will need to pay for each report individually.

A criminal records check through CJIS costs $33 per report. Employers who want to check state court records can pay for a subscription to the Oregon Judicial Case Information Network for a base rate of $33 (without documents) or $108 (includes documents) per month, plus $16 per user per month.

Oregon MVR checks range from $1.50 to $17.50, depending on the type of report and lookback period you choose.

When you partner with a CRA like Checkr, you get access to customizable background check pricing packages that allow you to order the screenings you need based on your industry and job positions. 

Get a Oregon background check with Checkr

A background check can help you confirm a candidate's qualifications and determine whether they are a good fit for your company and the position you are looking to fill. But, conducting background checks on individual candidates can put a heavy load on your hiring team.

When you partner with Checkr, our modern background check technology can streamline and automate workflows and notifications, so you spend less time on the background check process and hire more high-quality talent faster. Our compliance tools also make it easier to manage risk and help ensure consistency across your team. Checkr’s swift, safe, and smooth background checks help ensure an excellent candidate experience, and you can get started with Checkr today.

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The resources and information provided here are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Always consult your own counsel for up-to-date legal advice and guidance related to your practices, needs, and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the author

Jennifer writes about a variety of topics, including background checks, employee benefits, small business insurance, risk management, workplace culture, and more. Her work includes educational articles, blogs, e-books, white papers, and case studies.

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