Background Screening

In late April, an article appeared on the front page of The Indianapolis Star about what can happen when a background check is done incorrectly. “When Michele Petry learned that she wouldn’t be hired for a nursing job, she was shocked to find out why,” said author Fatima Hussein. “The employment background report revealed that Petry had multiple felonies, including felony convictions for drug paraphernalia and for theft.” The check had been done by an unnamed third-party vendor.

The problem, Hussein reported, was Petry had “a squeaky clean criminal record and had never been convicted of any such charges.” After performing a background check and receiving the report, the prospective employer told her she wouldn’t be hired. When Petry was denied an opportunity to review and challenge the background check, she filed a class-action lawsuit against the prospective employer claiming that the company violated provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The article goes on to point out that many states are exploring ways to reduce or even eliminate the incidence of inaccurate background screening results. As reported recently by Barada Associates, on July 1, 2017, California will become the latest state to enact regulations that limit state employers’ ability to use criminal history when making employment-related decisions.

At Barada Associates, we long ago took steps to protect our clients. For employers that do not use Barada Associates, we urge them to ensure their screening firms follow similar practices. Typically, we use a minimum of two key identifiers when doing court checks: the candidate’s full legal name and date of birth. If one or more records are found with exactly the same name and same date of birth, we inform the prospective employer and recommend they ask the candidate to confirm which set of records corresponds to him or her. If there is negative information in that record, we further urge the employer to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, allowing the candidate the opportunity to review the record and correct it if it is inaccurate.

That’s the safe, simple solution.