Report: Faulty FBI Background Checks Add to Loss of Jobs

Tuesday, 30 Jul 2013 12:01 PM

By Courtney Coren

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FBI background checks used by employers could be inaccurate and jeopardizing jobs around the country, and are often inadvertently the source of racial discrimination, a new report finds.

The National Employment Law Project released a report Tuesday saying that 50 percent of the information provided to employers by the FBI about job applicants only includes arrests, but not how those arrests turned out, such as whether there was a conviction.

This may give potential employers the impression that a person's criminal record is worse than it actually is, and may result in an applicant being wrongfully rejected, The Washington Post reports.

"One third of felony arrests do not result in conviction and many others are reduced to misdemeanors," the employment project report states.

The report said that this incomplete information may disproportionately affect black applicants.

"African Americans are especially disadvantaged by the faulty records because people of color are consistently arrested at rates greater than their representation in the general population, and large numbers of those arrests never lead to conviction," the report says.

According to a statement released by the FBI, the agency said it receives data from the states, and they are responsible for making sure the information is updated and accurate, the Post reports.

The report also found that FBI background checks are used six times more than they were just a decade ago. In 2012, approximately 17 million FBI background checks were done for the purpose of employment and licensing.

The FBI said background checks skyrocketed after the 2001 terrorist attacks as more industries required them for employment.

Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia is set to introduce a bill this week which would make sure the FBI is more proactive about providing accurate information. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, has sponsored a similar measure directed toward those who apply for federal jobs.

"Finding a job in this economy is already hard enough," Ellison said. "No one should lose the chance to work because of an inaccurate background check."

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