Overlooked Information Leads to Big Consequences
November 21, 2012
With NBC’s Today Show report on the negative side to background screening companies, another case arose this past week with the story of Darlene T. Martinez of Arizona, who was denied a job due to an inaccurate background check. After the NBC report, many background screening companies, including EmployeeScreenIQ responded confirming that, yes, companies in our industry do make mistakes sometimes. While we can’t speak for our competitors, our company does everything possible to conduct a complete and accurate background check, especially when it comes to criminal records. However, for Darlene, the mistake in her background check not only cost her a job opportunity, but caused additional hardships for the months that followed.
Martinez was already offered the position for a housekeeping job at a local hospital and all that was left was the background check. She was confident there would be no issues, as she knew she does not have a criminal record. However, within the background check conducted by Universal Background Screening, a record was found. Unfortunately, Ms. Martinez was denied the job with the hospital and spent three weeks contacting the background screening company and also worked to have the record corrected. In addition, Martinez was not informed of the record that was found in her background check by the background screening company-the hospital provided the information to her.
The background check came back with a record for Darlene Foster Ramirez, found guilty of dangerous-drug possession in Navajo County in 2009, and whose last name does not even match. The background screening company claims that the record was verified by both social security number and date of birth, however, Martinez’s attorney stated that they were able to confirm the DOB and SSN of Martinez and Ramirez were indeed different. One possible cause cited was that the background screening company searched both names, “Darlene T. Martinez” and “Darlene Martinez Ramirez,”-a married name that Darlene no longer uses. So, while there is no clear answer as to why the social security number and date of birth were not verified on the criminal record, the end result was devastating for Martinez. Fortunately, she found a job, but it was months later and she had to file for unemployment during the months in between.
Martinez is currently pursuing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court this fall “against the Phoenix-based company that did the search, Universal Background Screening, alleging that it failed to notify her about the damaging report and that it didn’t follow the necessary procedures to ensure accuracy.” According to Zachary Kramer, who teaches employment law at Arizona State University, they hope cases like this one will encourage background screening companies to examine their screening services and become more cautious of making further mistakes.
While no background screening company can claim perfection, including EmployeeScreenIQ, we work to ensure that if a criminal record is found for an applicant, we want to be 100% sure that the records we find belong to our client’s applicant. This includes verifying the date of birth, social security number, as well as looking at where the candidate has lived, i.e. county searches. In addition, our dispute rate for all counties searched is just .02% or 1 out of every 6,000. These are best practices, and we hope that others follow these same standards so that no one has to lose out on a job like Darlene. Watch the video below for additional details on the story.