What Is a DOT Previous Employer Check?

Failing to comply with all of the Department of Transportation's requirements when hiring new employees can mean fines and, possibly, a company shutdown if the DOT audits your company. One of the requirements is a previous employer check of employees in safety-sensitive positions such as drivers. Your employment application must ask applicants to provide their employment history for the previous 10 years. However, you must confirm any employment listed in the previous three years.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration—a division of the DOT—provides a form that employers can use to conduct previous employer checks. While the department does not require that you use their form, it can simplify compiling the necessary information. Complete the form with your company's information and information about the applicant. You can mail or fax the form to the previous employer but retain proof of the transmission or mailing in case the previous employer does not reply to prove that you made a good-faith effort to comply with the regulation.

Written Consent

The applicant must provide written consent for you to perform the required previous employer checks. Without the applicant's permission, the previous employer cannot give you any information other than whether he would rehire the applicant. The form provided by the FMCSA provides a space for the applicant's signature, if you make your own form, include a place for the applicant to sign giving authorization to previous employers to provide the necessary information.

Time Limits

You have 30 days to include any responses—or proof of your good-faith effort to obtain the information—in the employee's file. You can hire the employee and put him to work before receiving the responses as long as you have a negative result on a preemployment drug test. You must retain the information in the employee's file while he is working for you and for three years after he stops working for you. If you do not hire the applicant, you must keep the information in a file for three years.

Right to Rebuttal

Applicants have the right to review information provided by previous employers. If they disagree with the information, they can send a request to the previous employer asking for a correction of the provided information. The previous employer has 15 days to notify the applicant if it stands by the provided information. If the previous employer agrees to correct the information, it must send the new information to the prospective employer within five days of receiving the driver's rebuttal. You must keep any rebuttal information in the employee's file even if you do not hire the applicant.