Lesson from Ohio State Incident: Date of Birth Vital for Background Checks
March 15, 2010
Many employers wonder why they need to provide an applicant’s date of birth in order to perform thorough employment background checks. This story below might convince them of the importance of not only providing the date of birth, but also why it is vitally important to verify the given birth date.
By now, many of you have seen the story about the workplace violence incident that took place at The Ohio State University last week which resulted in the death of one employee and a serious wound to another by shooting. The first thing everyone asked, and rightfully so: did the university conduct a background check before hiring this employee? The answer was yes and the background check didn’t reveal the employee’s past conviction where he spent 5 years in prison for receiving stolen property. The university says that had it known of the record, they never would have hired the individual.
Of course, the media jumped all of the company that performed the background check. But before you automatically assume that the screening provider botched the check, here’s an important fact to consider and an equally important lesson for employers. It turns out that the employee provided the school with a fraudulent date of birth.
Why is that a problem?
Nearly all courts file criminal records by name and date of birth (some include more information). In order to conduct a criminal background check, court researchers must search by both the name and date of birth. If the date of birth is incorrect, the record will not be found. Originally, both the school and the media seemed to be squarely blaming the background screening company. However, it appears that the record was missed because Ohio State ran the check using the wrong date of birth.
So here is the lesson. Employers must verify an applicant’s date of birth before performing the background check. All you have to do is look at a driver’s license or other government issued ID. Failing to do so allows the applicant to provide you with fake information which will ultimately derail your efforts to perform thorough employment background checks. Verifying the date of birth also helps to avoid innocent mistakes or clerical errors. Now, I’m sure my alma mater had the best intentions in mind. In truth, my guess is that many organizations forget or neglect to do this. Unfortunately, the results can be deadly.
For more information on what employers can do to combat workplace violence, please download our recent whitepaper, Protecting Your Employees from Workplace Violence.