BEST PRACTICE #7 & 8 FOR PROPER USE OF CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS IN HIRING
Today we continue our recommendations based on a recent paper published by representatives from the National H.I.R.E. Network, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the National Workrights Institute, called Best Practice Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring, with a look at point #7:
CONFIRM ALL INFORMATION FROM ONLINE DATABASES WITH ORIGINAL SOURCE
Huge databases of information about millions of people can often contain errors that could jeopardize a candidate’s employability. This is especially true with regard to court checks. Going back to the “original source” for verification of information that comes up on an online database means tracking down where the original record is kept. That usually means calling the county clerk’s office in the county where the conviction took place to double check the information.
In some larger counties, like Cook County in Illinois, talking to the Clerk or a Deputy Clerk may be next to impossible over the phone. Depending on how serious the information in the database and how critical the job is to the prospective employer, it may actually be necessary to physically go to the County Clerk’s office to look up the actual record in the actual Docket Book or on a computer terminal that contains the docket information.
Sometimes it’s possible to send an e-mail or an actual letter requesting the necessary information. The problem is, obviously, turnaround time. It can take weeks to get a reply back from extremely busy or very large counties.
One other solution is to put the burden on the candidate to prove he’s not the person whose name came up in the court check. And that could mean the candidate will actually have to go back to the original arrest records and, in the extreme, show that his fingerprints don’t match the other person with the same name and birth date!
While you’re making the effort to confirm the original source, it is a good idea to make sure the information is current by following guideline #8:
GETTING CURRENT DISPOSITION OF ALL RELEVANT INFORMATION
If a national database turns up a conviction, the employer should insist that the CRA go to the primary source – the County Clerk’s Office of the county in which the conviction took place – and make sure it’s up-to-date. As we mentioned before, this can ordinarily be done by simply placing a call to the Clerk’s Office of that county.