As a company that specializes in employment screening, we sometimes work with organizations where screening practices need to be improved because they are missing important “red flags.” So, an article about a lawsuit against the FBI for that very thing really piqued our interest.
By now, we have all heard of Dylann Roof, the young man convicted of 33 hate crimes in connection with a Charleston church shooting that resulted in the deaths of nine people. What is less known is that surviving family members have now filed wrongful death lawsuits against the FBI, citing negligence regarding Roof’s background check.
Here’s what United Press International reported: “The plaintiffs say the FBI failed to manage its own database or perform a proper background check on Roof when he purchased a Glock .45-caliber handgun and applied for a background check. A prior arrest, for possession of medication without a prescription, should have eliminated him from purchasing the weapon.”
It surprised us to learn that the FBI could miss important information that would have been obvious with a properly conducted background check. In reality, they didn’t overlook it; they never even saw it. FBI Director James Comey publicly admitted that incomplete and inaccurate paperwork prevented the FBI from completing the background check within the three-day waiting period, so Roof was automatically granted the license for the weapon.
In our opinion, given current screening technology, there is no legitimate reason for such a procedural breakdown, whether the background check was for the FBI or a private employer. Agencies (and companies) that do not have the manpower to submit appropriate paperwork on a timely basis should hire a professional screening service that does.
These suits, which may result in large judgments, are ample proof that conducting thorough, timely background checks is vital to the health of any organization. The FBI has deep pockets, but imagine the potential repercussions if a private employer had made similar mistakes. The resulting lawsuits might completely sink the firm.