Eighty-seven percent of employers use background checks as part of their pre-employment screening process according to the Society for Human Resource Management. If you’re doing business in the U.S., you’re probably among them. You also probably believe that the employment background checks you’re conducting are protecting your employees, customers, business and bottom line from potentially devastating bad hires—but your belief may be wrong.
A pre-employment screening program is only as good as the services it includes—something UberX recently learned the hard way. According to CBSDFW, the popular ride-sharing company conducts criminal background checks on all new drivers before allowing them to shuttle passengers on UberX’s behalf. However, they recently began re-screening UberX drivers based in Dallas because they discovered the multi-state criminal records database originally used was missing conviction records.
It wasn’t an isolated incident. The Chicago Tribune has reported that a Chicago UberX driver had a felony conviction, an issue UberX’s background check process did not discover—again, due to holes in the multi-state criminal database utilized. It apparently did not include all federal records and was missing a substantial number of county records.
Because many employers do not understand how courts report criminal records, choosing an incomplete database is an all too common mistake—even when working with a background check service. Many rely on national or federal criminal records that are often incomplete because the reporting of these records is highly irregular across counties and states.
Even state criminal databases can have flaws. According to the CBSDFW report, a local background check service ran everyone on death row in Texas through the state’s Department of Public Safety database. The result: the arrests and convictions of one third of Texas’ death row inmates had not been recorded in the database.
While it’s unlikely that a hole in your pre-employment screening process will cause you to hire a criminal off of death row—they’re behind bars, after all—it could fail to identify violent offenders, sex offenders, convicted drunken drivers, or others with potentially dangerous histories. The only way to ensure you’ve done everything you can to protect your employees, customers, business and bottom line is to conduct the most thorough and comprehensive background check possible. This means one that includes review of county records as well as state and federal databases.