Wanted: Accurate FBI Background Checks for Employment; Reward: Good Jobs

Source: Madeline Neighly and Maurice Emsellem, National Employment Law Project, July 2013

A record 16.9 million FBI criminal background checks were run for employment or licensing purposes in 2012 , a six-fold increase since 9/11 . But serious flaws in the FBI records are jeopardizing work opportunities for hundreds of thousands of job seekers every year, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project.

The NELP report, entitled, “ Wanted: Accurate FBI Background Checks for Employment ,” estimates that 1.8 million workers a year are subject to FBI background checks that contain faulty or incomplete information, and 600,000 of those workers may be prejudiced in their job search because the positive outcome of their case is not reflected in the FBI record.

The report spotlights the FBI ’s failure to ensure that its records are accurate and complete. Arrests are recorded but the final disposition of cases often is not — a critical defect, given that one-third of felony arrests are ultimately dismissed and charges are frequently reduced. Much of the toll falls on workers of color, who are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system and suffer the consequences of faulty FBI records in terms of job loss, hiring barriers, and financial hardship.