Michigan Bill Requires DOB on Court Records to Help Background Check Firms

Background Screening News

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On October 5, 2021, House Bill 5368 was introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives and would require date of birth (DOB) to be included in publicly accessible personal identifying information (PII) on court records to ensure background check firms may continue to report criminal records to employers and property managers.

“Millions of background checks are performed each year in Michigan by job providers and landlords who are looking out for the safety of their customers, residents, and the general public,” Michigan State Representative Graham Filler (R-District 93), who sponsored the bill, stated in a post on the Michigan House Republicans website.

“When a background check is performed – especially on someone with a common name – comparing dates of birth is the best way to confirm the accuracy of the records. Restricting access to this information would be a mistake that jeopardizes public safety,” stated Filler, who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

A rule proposed by the Michigan State Court Administrative Office would result in the redaction of dates of birth for defendants in court proceedings. Filler said the rule – which is set to go into effect on January 1, 2022 – “would make it next to impossible for background check companies to do their jobs,” according to the post.

Background check firms are regulated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which requires them to match certain personal identifiers – such as DOB – to the background check subject. If identifiers cannot be matched, a report cannot be generated, and the proposed rule has raised concerns for Michigan employers.

House Bill 5368 would clearly state in law that the PII including the DOB of criminal defendants must be included in court documents in Michigan, but would not include information about victims or witnesses in a court case. “Without this change, Michiganders will no longer be able to rely on accurate background checks,” Filler said.

In June 2021, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) – a non-profit trade organization representing background check firms worldwide – issued a call to action to members about the DOB redaction since access to DOBs is needed to confirm a record as a match to a job candidate during a background check.

The PBSA sent a letter to the Michigan Supreme Court to explain how DOB redaction affects background checks. “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 PBSA said.

“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 letter stated.

The PBSA represents the interest of more than 880 member companies that offer employment and tenant background screening services, advances excellence in the screening profession, 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 level of professionalism of background screening 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 chair of the committee that founded the PBSA in 2003 when it was the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) before rebranding to a new name in 2019. That same 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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