News & Resources

Background check woes hurt businesses, employees

Jan 19, 2013 Quinn Thomas

Recent events that have resulted from flippant or inadequate background checks have illustrated the need for better employee screening methods. Businesses have to balance between asking too many and too few questions to successfully conduct background checks, and this can be difficult when employees in charge of the processes are not properly prepared.

For example, a variety of employee-protection agencies - both federal and state - govern the processes and levy sanctions or fines against companies that do not follow outlined guidance. Additionally, many industries require an increased level of background checks, which complicates matters even further. However, these difficulties can be avoided altogether.

Companies that do not feel comfortable conducting criminal background checks, or other screening responsibilities, should consider hiring a firm that specializes in the processes. This way, businesses can rest assured that all of the most necessary steps are taken and the laws governing proper screening are met.

When screening goes wrong
The Huffington Post recently listed the top five incidents in which companies messed up during the background screening process. According to the news provider, there are a variety of challenges businesses face when conducting background checks, and some can lead to serious issues, even those that are the product of simple negligence or bad luck.

The source explained the case of Patrick Padilla, who was not hired at one big box retailer because of a name mix-up. The retailer had found the wrong Patrick Padilla in the screening process, and erroneously believed he had a long line of criminal charges, including sexual contact and false imprisonment.

The next mistake was with Donnie Ward, whose job was taken away because her employer believed she had lied on her application following a more extensive background check. The business believed that she was her brother, Don Ward, and that she had a criminal record. Even after trying to explain that this was not her, her bosses still asked her to leave.

The Huffington Post highlighted the story of Samuel Jackson who applied to one company that found he was a registered sex offender following a routine background check. However, this was once again a case of mistaken identity, as the applicant had no criminal record.

Finally, the source illustrated the stories of Daniel Baker, who was mistaken for a two-time embezzler during a background check, and Judy Rivers, who showed up as deceased during her background check because of a mix up with a credit reporting agency years prior.

All of these stories illustrate the importance of ensuring company background check policies and procedures are in accordance with the law and accurately conducted. When businesses are not completely confident that their background checks are as strong as possible, they should seek out the assistance of firms that specialize in the responsibilities.

Background check backlog
Speed is almost as important as accuracy in the background checking process, as slow turnover can lead to missed opportunities for both the applicant and the business. NBC 9 News, a Colorado-based affiliate, recently reported that the state's Bureau of Investigation has a 17-month backlog of criminal background checks.

This has led many companies that rely on the agency to become frustrated, and has strained the employment process substantially. According to the source, officials inside the Colorado Bureau of Investigation believe that this backlog is the product of an antiquated system. Others close to the issue agree that it is time for a new system to be implemented for background checks in the state.

Businesses should rely on firms that have advanced methods of conducting background checks, as this will move the process along more smoothly and quickly.