Getting a job has never been more complicated than it is now. Potential employers want to review your credit, your work history, your social media pages and even your criminal background. In addition to a resume, cover letter, references from professional acquaintances and former bosses and a drug test, your entire recorded history will likely get carefully checked.
Most people trust that criminal background checks are accurate, but, in reality, mistakes are common. Some companies will work with candidates when a mistake creates the impression of a criminal history. Others will simply advise applicants that the background check was the reason for not hiring them. In some cases, workers aren't even told that much and must try to piece together what happened without any help from the company.
Mistakes happen, but they can cost you a lot
It's easy to see how mistakes in reporting criminal backgrounds can happen. Maybe you have a common name, and there's someone else whose record got conflated with your own. There have even been cases where individuals with the same name share the same birthday, which can make contesting the accuracy of a background check that much more difficult. Your best option is often to seek to correct the mistakes in your criminal record before seeking any additional employment opportunities.
Sometimes, there are data entry errors that can cause issues. Other times, they may have records of charges that were later reduced or dismissed. These companies often operate under the assumption that if someone plead to a lesser crime, that person was, in fact, guilty of the original charge. It may not seem fair, but it is common practice. If you've gotten charged with a crime in the past, it could turn up on your record, even if you don't actually have a felony conviction.
Private companies can be held accountable for these mistakes
If the company you applied to used a private business for your background check, that company could be held liable for the mistake that cost you a job. Businesses that specialize in criminal background checks and investigations, like Pinkertons, maintain their own records and databases. These databases can contain mistakes and errors that cost people jobs and create serious financial hardship. Because there is no federal oversight, little is done to protect the average person from these mistakes.
When a background check's inaccurate or intentionally misleading information costs you a job, you have the right to push back. If the company won't change their records, you may have to pursue civil action against them. Potential outcomes could include updating your record or even obtaining compensation for lost income. You shouldn't have to live with the consequences of a data entry mistake preventing you from gainful employment. Take action to protect your future and others who may experience the same thing at a later time.