FBI Background Checks for Employment Containing Inaccurate Information Can Cost Applicants Jobs

Employers that use Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal databases to background check job applicants could be basing employment decisions on inaccurate information that can cost applicants job opportunities, according to an article in The Washington Post available at http://wapo.st/17cC0Kn.

The Post reports many FBI records “list only arrests and not the outcomes of those cases such as convictions.” Some consumer groups say “missing information often results in job applicants who are wrongfully rejected” and African Americans and Hispanics are denied work in disproportionate numbers.

According to a Post graphic, twenty states claim about “30 percent of their case files do not include a final ruling, making it unclear whether someone who was arrested was convicted.” The FBI said in a statement that it receives data from state records agencies and that “states are responsible for keeping the information updated.”

The Post reports that FBI criminal background checks run for employment or licensing purposes experienced a six-fold increase from 2002 to 2012, rising from 2.8 million to 16.9 million in those years. However, employers may only request FBI background checks when authorized by state or federal laws.

A 2006 Attorney General’s Report on Criminal History Background Checks estimated that approximately 50 percent of the arrest records in the FBI’s criminal databases did not include disposition information. The Attorney General’s report is available at http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ag_bgchecks_report.pdf.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) released a report that found as many as 600,000 of the nearly 17 million employment background checks the FBI processed in 2012 contained inaccurate information. The NELP report is available at http://nelp.3cdn.net/bd23dee1b42cff073c_8im6va8d2.pdf.

“People cannot get jobs, or they’re losing their jobs, because of these defects in the FBI’s records,” Madeline Neighly, staff attorney with NELP and the report’s lead author, stated in a press release about the report. “Employers assume FBI background checks are the gold standard, but the records are unreliable.”

The NELP report – ‘Wanted: Accurate FBI Background Checks for Employment’ – estimates 1.8 million workers are subjected to FBI background checks that contain incomplete information each year, and claims flaws in FBI records jeopardize work opportunities for hundreds of thousands of job seekers.

Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), warned of the same issues back in 2004 in the first edition of his book ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’:

The FBI database’s formal name is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and is an automated database of criminal justice and justice-related records maintained by the FBI. The sources of the FBI’s information are the counties and states that contribute information as well as the federal justice agencies. Two important points about the NCIC are:

  • The NCIC is not nearly as complete as portrayed in the movies. Because of the chain of events that must happen in multiple jurisdictions in order for a crime to appear in NCIC, many records of crime do not make it into the system.
  • The information the NCIC does have is predominantly arrest-related. The disposition of most crimes in NCIC must be obtained by searching at the adjudicating jurisdiction. Dispositions are important issue for employers.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – is a nationwide screening firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). For more information, visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call Toll Free 888.999.4474.







About Employment Screening Resources® (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call toll free 888.999.4474.

About ESR News: 

The Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/feed/. To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Newsletter/.