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Spoiler alert: FBI background checks don’t tell the whole story 2

Finding a job is not easy. Finding a job if you have a criminal record is even more of a challenge, especially if your criminal record is incomplete. According to a report released recently by the National Employment Law Project, employers consider an FBI background check to be the gold standard, but the FBI’s records often fail to tell the whole story. The arrest may be on file, but the dismissal of charges may not be.

Both workers and employers lose when such vital information is misreported or not reported at all, NELP says. Workers lose opportunities, and employers lose qualified workers. And the issue does, in fact, involve discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: A person of color is more likely to have an arrest in his history than his white counterpart.

In 2012, employers tapped into approximately 17 million FBI criminal records, the report’s lead author explained. Half of those, he added, are missing information on the final disposition of the case. The report points out, as well, that the FBI has the information and the wherewithal to update the records; it’s just not a priority, apparently.

In the end, then, the report warns employers not to judge a candidate by his or her background check. Employers may want to dig a little further on their own or may want to work with the candidate directly to resolve any questions.

Business, especially small businesses, may also want to consult with an experienced employment law attorney for guidance.

Source: Business Insurance, “Worker advocacy group claims FBI criminal background checks are flawed,” Judy Greenwald, July 30, 2013

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