Hurricane Ike Closes Courts: Impedes Background Checks
September 17, 2008
As you know, the city of Houston, TX and surrounding areas suffered heavy damages caused by Hurricane Ike. Currently (at the time of this post) 93% of those in Harris County (Houston) are without power. Neighboring counties of Brazoria, Montgomery and Fort Bend are also largely without power. And of course, many people are returning to severely damaged homes.
In addition to Texas, this storm has caused considerable damage and flooding throughout a significant portion of the country, including parts of Louisiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, West Virginia and Indiana.
Of course, the damage this storm has caused and the people that have been affected are of primary concern to us all. However, we thought we would address how the damage is affecting background checks in these areas.
Needless to say, the courthouses in these affected counties have been closed since the storm hit and will remain closed for at least a few more days. Those requesting court records in the affected counties will experience delays until these courts reopen.
So the question many employers are asking is, “Am I supposed to wait to hire applicants without the information from these jurisdictions?” Unfortunately, we as employment screeners shouldn’t answer that question for any organization. Some employers might choose to wait on a hiring decision pending the completion of a background check. Of course, the risk is losing that candidate. Other companies might choose to hire them and make their employment contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. That certainly allows the company to secure their candidate, but it could open them up for short-term liability.
There are some short term solutions which can act as a bridge to the county information such as Statewide and National Database Searches. However, it is important to know the shortcomings of these tools before you choose to utilize them.
One thing that we can offer is that no matter which lane you choose, don’t forget to perform the background check when the courts reopen. It’s easy for these things to get lost in the shuffle. This is one area that shouldn’t slip through the cracks.