Normally, we focus on background and reference check topics pertinent to employers, but employers aren’t the only ones that need to identify the red flags that background checks frequently produce.  Remember Dylann Roof, the guy accused of 33 hate crimes in connection with a Charleston shooting rampage that ended in the deaths of nine people attending church services?

Now, surviving family members have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the FBI, citing negligence regarding Roof’s background check. Here’s what the UPI 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’s a little disconcerting to think that agencies like the FBI could miss important information that would have been right in front of them with a properly conducted background check!

Here are more details: “A month after the church massacre, FBI Director James Comey publicly admitted a failure in completing Roof’s background check, blaming incomplete and inaccurate paperwork. An incorrect arresting agency was listed on Roof’s record, and the background check was not completed within the three-day waiting period.”

In allowing the suits to go forward, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel noted, “The FBI apparently gave up its attempt to learn about Roof’s purportedly felonious drug arrest, and it took no action to prevent Roof from being allowed to purchase a handgun.”

While this incident has nothing to do with hiring, it does illustrate what can happen when organizations either fail to do a background and reference check—or ignore or overlook the information produced. The FBI has deep pockets, but imagine the potential repercussions if a private employer had made similar mistakes. As they say, “A word to the wise…”