New Court Rules Pose Challenges to Employer Background Screening

A growing number of states are beginning to implement new identity protection rules that may impact employer background screening. As more court records have personal identifying information (PII) like driver’s license numbers and birth dates removed, background checks will become increasingly difficult.

Here are a few changes that are currently on the horizon:

Michigan Courts to Shield Personal Identifying Information Starting in 2022

In May 2019, the Michigan Supreme Court published new rules prohibiting state courts from including PII on public court records. This includes the following:

  • Dates of birth
  • Passport numbers
  • Social security numbers
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Financial account numbers
  • State-issued personal ID card numbers

While the people involved in cases may still need to provide their PII to the courts, that information will no longer be accessible to the public, whether in print or online. 

The original implementation date for the new rules was July 1, 2021. However, after a strong backlash from various consumer reporting agencies, the court pushed the date back to January 1, 2022. This should enable the industry to better prepare for the new rules.

In the meantime, Michigan is working on a bypass system to allow subjects to consent to include their PII on court papers used for employment purposes.

Restrictions to Accessing Criminal Records Are Underway in California 

Employer background screening may become more difficult in California, too. In a recent case, the California Court of Appeal ruled that a criminal defendant’s birth date and driver’s license number cannot be used to identify them in public records. The decision only affects Riverside County for now. However, it has already prompted courts across the state to start removing birth dates from criminal records.

If the ruling is upheld by the California Supreme Court, it may severely affect employers and consumer reporting agencies conducting background checks. The Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) and other trade associations and businesses have sent an amicus letter asking the court to reverse the decision. 

What Does This Mean for Employers? 

The recent developments in Michigan and California may herald a larger, nationwide (and indeed, global) shift toward increased protection of personal data. 

On the one hand, this can help shield individual members of the public from undue invasions of privacy. However, it may also pose problems for employers, property managers, and consumer reporting agencies. Background checks are likely to become more complicated, time-consuming, and well beyond the capacity of most employers. Job applicants and prospective tenants could also find it harder to secure work and housing. Some may even be at risk of having their identity mistaken.  

All that means one thing: it has never been more critical for employers to carry out criminal background checks through a trusted third-party provider. This is essential for finding the best candidates for your openings and keeping your workplace safe.

How IntelliCorp Can Help with Your Employer Background Screening

At IntelliCorp, we specialize in providing talent screening solutions to highly regulated small to mid-sized companies. We combine our expertise and cutting-edge technologies to give you peace of mind and enable you to focus on your HR initiatives to meet today's growing hiring demands.


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