I recently accepted a job offer via phone and email and started working the new job since last week. They emailed me to do a background check after I had work for them for a couple of days and said my job offer is contingent until a clear background check. Was it right for them to give me a job offer, have me start, and then state the offer is contingent after? I would have not accepted if I had known especially since I am still dealing with a misdemeanor.

  • Is it possible that the background check is only needed to perform a new role, or a role that only a subset of employees need to do? For example they hire a lot of people for a specific job title every year, but only 25% will need to work on a military base. – mhoran_psprep Mar 14 '18 at 11:02
  • 1
    Finding out after the fact sucks. Doesn't seem right to me, but I am not certain its illegal. – Neo Mar 14 '18 at 11:46
  • 1
    I'm the only one in my new role and yeah it does suck, I'm just waiting but I feel like I'm wasting my time in case something does happen. – J.koh Mar 14 '18 at 12:36
  • I'm not too sure how starting a job works in the US, but didn't you sign any papers/contracts before working ? – everyone Mar 14 '18 at 14:05
  • 1
    It would help to know what the terms of the employment are (is there a contract, etc.) and what jurisdiction. Different states and municipalities have different rules. On the bright side, if they do fire you, you can make an unemployment claim. – Acccumulation Mar 15 '18 at 22:34

Employers do this. I'm sorry it happened to you.

It's unethical to lead someone into quitting a job without a clear, non-contingent job offer or an upfront explanation of the contingencies.

Another game employers play, which still might be coming your way, is asking you to sign a non-compete agreement after you've quit your old job and started your new job. This, of course, leaves you in a vulnerable negotiating position.

18% of Americans are subject to non-competes.

More on that tactic here:


  • thank you Donna, i will definitely look out for that non compete. However I did work another day and still haven't heard about my background check clearing or passing. I really just want to be honest with them but my friends and lawyer have said not to say anything until asked. Otherwise it could open unwanted arguments up. – J.koh Mar 15 '18 at 2:05

No, it is highly irregular to allow you to start prior to conducting the background check. Perhaps they were really desperate to get someone right away or perhaps they found out about your legal trouble after you started and as a result, are now asking for a background check. You should read your contract carefully and see if it mentions anything about the job being contingent on a background check. In any case, you should probably start looking for other opportunities just in case.

  • Thanks for your input. they didn't ask for a background check until a couple of days after, they did it for everyone who got recently hired. It does seem irregular especially since the first job offer didn't mention any contingent job offer. They made me fill out the other paperwork needed like my tax forms and direct deposit too. – J.koh Mar 14 '18 at 3:19
  • Is it a small company or a startup, by any chance? – AffableAmbler Mar 14 '18 at 3:20
  • Its a small company,considered a start up,been around less than 10 years – J.koh Mar 14 '18 at 3:21
  • Oh okay. I was thinking if they were very new, maybe they just didn't know any better but if they've been around for almost 10 years... Perhaps someone with HR experience could shed more light on this. It might also help if you add a country tag. – AffableAmbler Mar 14 '18 at 3:25
  • 1
    Thank you and I just added the USA tag. I just don't want my job to just let me go because of my background check. If I had known I would have not quit my previous employer. – J.koh Mar 14 '18 at 3:29

Give yourself the opportunity to defend yourself. After all, you've already started working there and your current situation may have no affect on your abilities to perform this new job.

Perhaps you could ask your employer

If anything happens to comes back on my background check, may I be informed of what it is and give any clarification on such information?

Maybe the background check they perform is only pertinent to more serious offenses and nothing comes back when all is said and done.

  • wouldn't asking them about my background check raise a red flag to them though? – J.koh Mar 15 '18 at 2:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .