Currently, it is not clear what cases or charges Mr. Alexis had which may not have been reported on his commercial background. Even if cases are publicly available, they may not have been legal to list on a background report. If you peeked behind the scenes here you may be disturbed by the types of cases removed from a person’s background report in order to comply with federal and state laws.
When something horrible happens the first questions tend to be about the background check and why a background check didn’t find publicly available, relevant cases. It seems to be a new American pastime. Admittedly it’s the first thing I think about.
But trends in recent decades by the states and D.C. to limit or restrict criminal case reporting may be creating a dangerous situation for an uninformed public and employers.
Twelve states plus D.C. have added restrictions on reporting criminal cases. For a better understanding of CA law, see my blog article “If Released Today, Charles Manson Would Have a Clear Background Check Report.” Other states have followed suit with similar laws putting limitations on how long a criminal conviction (or non-conviction) can be reported.
These limitations include convictions (and here is the scary part)…even if the case is a felony or a felony involving bodily injury, sexual assault, murder, manslaughter, or guns crimes to name a few. D.C. has a 10 year limit on reporting convictions of any kind. After the time has passed, the ex-con is Clear regardless of the offense.
It makes sense to limit how long a bad debt or bankruptcy can be reported because those are a result of life circumstances and those circumstances may be temporary. The States; however, are limiting Felony criminal cases and these are serious criminal offenses and represent a behavioral pattern which may be repeated against new “Uniformed” innocent persons.
Everyday internally we see candidate criminal cases and have to remove the cases because of the candidate’s State residency like California. Some days we have cases the employer should be informed about but instead the person “Clears.” From our prospective it doesn’t seem to make sense to have laws gagging us to report information already publicly available at the courts; It appears to be a Freedom of Information violation to keep Employers in the dark about a potential employee, but we don’t create the laws.
Right now we don’t know what happened with Mr. Alexis’s background. It is probable, however, the employer didn’t have a right to see cases (if they exist) because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and/or State reporting restrictions; And the background check company providing the background may have been gagged from bringing up publicly available cases but could be in the hot seat right now.
By the way if you are wondering if we did Aaron Alexis’s background(s); we didn’t.