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Employment Background Checks Causing Job Loss

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2012 | Consumer Protection

A recent report released by the National Consumer Law Center on
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 reveals that criminal background checks
conducted on prospective employees routinely contain errors,
mismatch people or misclassify criminal offenses.

The report said that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks, employers increasingly have conducted background checks on
prospective hires.  That has created a booming industry of
Internet companies that cull public information databases for
employers. But the information produced by some of those firms is
riddled with errors, the report says.

“Background screening companies routinely cut corners to improve
their profits and then they wipe their hands of any responsibility
for producing an inaccurate or misleading report that can cost a
worker his or her job,” wrote Persis Yu, the report’s

The National Consumer Law Center brought up the matter of Samuel
Jackson, a person we wrote about in a previous blog “The Crime of
Having a Common Name”.  In that story, we write about how he
was allegedly denied a job after a prospective employer ran a
background check that returned a 1987 rape conviction. But the man,
Samuel M. Jackson, was only 4 years old in 1987. The rape
conviction was for a man named Samuel L. Jackson, who was
incarcerated at the time the check was run. See article.

Situations like these are becoming more and more common as more
background checks are performed, the report found. Background
checks sometimes contain sealed or expunged information or omit
information on how a case was resolved. A job applicant who was
arrested, for example, may have been found innocent. But that
outcome may not be contained in the information supplied to the
employer.  In addition, some charges that may have started out
as a felony, may have been reduced to a misdemeanor, though the
background report still listed as a felony.  This latter
situation is one we specifically dealt with successfully at Larry P. Smith & Associates.

The report’s authors urged the recently formed Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau
to draw up regulations to ensure
that background checks are accurate and to require background-check
companies to register with the bureau so consumers have an
opportunity to correct false or misleading information.  The
reports authors also urge the Federal Trade Commission to
investigate the many companies that employers use to make sure they
are not violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal law that
protects consumers from false information in credit reports.

SmithMarco, P.C., has over 30 years of combined experience
practicing law protecting the rights of consumers around the
country and handles Fair Credit
Reporting Act
cases. If information about you is inaccurately
being reported, or if you feel that you’re rights have been
violated, please contact us for a free case