By Connor Roe, Summer Associate
Chances are, there’s someone else in this world with your same name.
And those people may not be as upstanding a citizen as you are. Samuel
M. Jackson is a 26 year old white guy. When he applied for a job at a
new company, the HR man who does the hiring ran a background check on
him. Who wouldn’t? It’s standard procedure for most companies
to do this before hiring someone into their work force. In fact 93% of
all companies do it. But the background check that Sam’s potential
employer used was faulty. The screening came back with three hits. Three
felonies that Sam allegedly committed. All three of those cases were rape
cases. Needless to say Sam didn’t get the job. But what the company
didn’t know was that all three of those hits were from different Samuel
Jackson’s. So not only does Sam share his name with the star of Pulp
Fiction, but also three registered sex offenders. The screening company
did no further research on Sam’s name. If they had, they would have
realized that all three of those sex offenders were much older than Sam.
Not to mention they were all African-American!
But faulty background checks don’t only hurt those who share the same
name as a convicted felons, but also the felons themselves. Take for example
a college graduate with an expunged juvie record. She is taking all of
the steps to make a life for herself. She put herself through college
and is now struggling to find a job. Who isn’t? Jobs are hard to come
by, even without time served in a Juvenile Detention Center for aggravated
assault. Even though her
records were sealed, the background check may only see a news article that reported on her
case that happened so many years ago. Or maybe her probation record showed
up on the check and shed light on her past issues. Even though those records
were sealed, the employer saw them in the check and cannot disregard them.
The college grad with a good work ethic won’t get the job solely because
the background check was faulty and brought past offenses back into the light.
A study done by the National Consumer Law Center uncovered more common
errors in background checks. Some screenings will show the same offense
numerous times. That will definitely hurt your credibility when applying
for a job. After all, three counts of vehicular manslaughter looks a lot
worse than one. Other times the screening company may misclassify the
offense. Once again, a first degree felony drug possession charge looks
much worse than a misdemeanor first degree. An adult who sold marijuana
in college is far more likely to get a job than a cartel member. A misclassification
in the background check could be the difference between the two in an
Steps can be taken to avoid these mistakes. Screening companies should
have to register federally in order to ensure that they complete all necessary
research for each screening. In addition, standards for ensuring accuracy
in background checks should be outlined more clearly. Finally, regardless
of the alleged offense, companies should give applicants ample time to
explain any areas of concern on there background checks.
It’s hard enough to get a job as it is. People looking for work should
not have to jump through the extra hoops of explaining everything on their
background checks because some billion dollar screening company didn’t
do the necessary research to ensure accuracy.