Defense News

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Inaccurate background check derails job hunter

via the Grand Rapids Press (9/28/07)

ALTO -- During the past year, former real estate office manager Paul Davis sent out more than 100 resumes and applications and wondered why his efforts resulted in only two calls.

After talking to one helpful human resources manager, he was told he would find the answer by looking at his criminal background.

So the 53-year-old Davis -- who received top security clearance when he worked with nuclear missiles in the Army during the 1980s and who hasn't had so much as a traffic ticket since the 1970s -- went to the state police criminal history Web site and typed in his information.

What came up was a charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor from May 1980 in another part of the state.

"I knew it wasn't me, but there's no way they would know," Davis said of any prospective employer. "I wonder how many jobs I might not have gotten because of this."

In 2004, a Wall Street Journal survey found that 80 percent of big companies in the U.S. perform background checks, compared to 56 percent in 1996. Since 2004, Wal-Mart has been doing checks on all prospective hires.

Avoiding liability is the reason behind the growth of checks, according to Star Swift, an assistant professor at Grand Valley State University's Seidman Management Department.

"Attorneys are telling clients to do more and more background checks because they can be held liable," Swift said.

If an employee inflicts deliberate harm, the company can be held accountable under laws referred to as torts of negligent hiring or retention, usually brought by customers or other employees victimized by the employee.

Such suits have resulted in multimillion- dollar jury verdicts.

In Davis' case, if the potential employer did even the most rudimentary fact-checking, they would have seen that birth dates and Social Security numbers for Davis and his criminal online alter-ego did not match up.

"There are so many people looking for jobs that any reason they can use will be used to exclude people," Swift said. "They don't have the time, and why take a chance on someone if they may have a criminal record? Especially if you're the one who will be held liable."...more.

1 comment:

Cam said...

There is a great solution for managing your background information. allows individuals to perform a quaality background check on themselves and then post the crime-free results for those they wish to verify via their one-of-a-kind online verification system. The best part of this system is the fact that they ACTUALLY perform a real background check, handled by a P.I. hands-on. I learned the hard way about the "instant" online background check companies... if you do a little research, you will learn that all of these companies just run names through out-of-date inaccurate databases.