The National Employment Law Project (NELP) has released a report – ‘Wanted: Accurate FBI Background Checks for Employment’ – that estimates 1.8 million workers a year are subjected to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background checks that contain “faulty or incomplete information” and that as many as 600,000 of those workers “may be prejudiced in their job search” because of inaccurate FBI records. The complete report is available at

“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. “Employers assume FBI background checks are the gold standard, but the records are unreliable. Around half of the FBI’s records are missing information on the final outcome of arrests—information that in many cases would significantly benefit workers who have turned their lives around.”

The report from NELP – a national advocacy organization for the employment rights of lower-wage and unemployed workers – spotlights the failure of the FBI “to ensure that its records are accurate and complete.” While arrests are recorded, the final disposition of cases often is not, which is a critical defect since NELP estimates that “one-third of felony arrests are ultimately dismissed and charges are frequently reduced.” Other key findings of the 51 page report include:

  • The use of FBI background checks for employment is rapidly increasing. Roughly 17 million FBI background checks were conducted for employment and licensing purposes in 2012, which is six times the number conducted a decade ago.
  • Despite clear federal mandates that require the background reports to be complete and accurate, 50 percent of the FBI’s records fail to include information on the final disposition of the case.
  • African Americans are especially disadvantaged by the faulty records because people of color are consistently arrested at rates greater than their representation in the general population, and large numbers of those arrests never lead to conviction.

Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), warned of the same issues regarding information in FBI databases back in 2004 in the first edition of his book ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ which was updated for a second edition published in October 2012. Rosen wrote that two important points about the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) – the formal name for the automated database of criminal justice records maintained by the FBI – 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 about ESR, visit or call Toll Free 888.999.4474. For more information about ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’  by Attorney Lester Rosen, visit


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 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 [email protected]. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit