PBSA Issues Call to Action Regarding DOB Redaction in Michigan Court Records

Background Screening News

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) – a non-profit trade organization representing firms performing background checks worldwide – has issued a call to action to its members regarding proposed amendments from the Michigan Supreme Court that will redact the Date of Birth (DOB) in court records.

The PBSA worked with the Michigan State Court Administrator’s office regarding ADM File No. 2020-26 that will remove DOB from court records but was told it would not be changed or modified and had an implementation date of July 1, 2021. On that date, Michigan will implement court rules that will remove DOB from court records.

In addition, clerks will also not verify a DOB verbally on a court record or limit a search of their records using DOB. Access to a full DOB is often a minimum requirement needed in order to confirm a record as a match to a job candidate during a background check, and the PBSA is asking for help to stop these rules from going into effect.

  • Update to Rule 1.109, paragraph 10, subparagraph (a): “…The clerk of the court is required to redact protected personal identifying information before providing direct access to the document via the internet, such as through the court’s website.”
  • Update to Rule 8.119, paragraph (H): “…If a public document prepared or issued by the court contains protected personal identifying information, the information must be redacted before it can be provided to the public, whether the document is provided via a paper or electronic copy, direct access via a publicly accessible computer at the courthouse, or direct access via the internet, such as on the court’s website…”

Although the Michigan State Court Administrator’s Office said that courts would provide DOB verification on records if researchers provided a signed release form at the point of request, the PBSA said that the option is problematic for the screening industry since many local researchers cannot directly access release forms.

The PBSA also indicated that a standard authorization to obtain a consumer report may not satisfy a requirement to obtain consent to the courts’ release of DOB, that it would be impossible to be consistent with this process, and that it would greatly increase processing costs, turnaround times, and further burden court clerks.

On June 9, 2021, the PBSA sent a letter to the Michigan Supreme Court about the effect ADM File No. 2020-26 would have: “If implemented, this rule will likely cause a halt in hiring and rental housing placements in Michigan. It is not merely inconvenient; it is set to upend all rental housing and employment decisions in Michigan.”

The letter continued: “Background checks are a critical component of the employment and rental process. Employers, property managers, and consumers alike depend on our members to search public records to determine whether a particular record belongs to a candidate being considered for employment or housing.”

The PBSA is asking members with clients in Michigan or who completed background checks on individuals who live or have lived in Michigan to contact the Michigan Supreme Court using a sample letter and contact list provided by the PBSA, and to also ask their Michigan customers to write a letter, no later than June 15, 2021.

The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) represents the interest of more than 880 member companies that offer employment and tenant background screening services and is the trusted global authority for the background screening profession. To learn more about the PBSA, visit https://thepbsa.org/.

The PBSA will continue to strengthen the professionalism of background screeners in the United States, according to leading global background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), which compiled the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2021 featuring emerging and influential trends in the industry.

ESR founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Attorney Lester Rosen was on the steering committee that founded the PBSA in 2003 when it was known as the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) before rebranding to a new name in 2019. That year, Rosen received the PBSA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a founding member of the PBSA that was ranked the number one screening firm by HRO Today in 2020 – is accredited by the PBSA by successfully completing the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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