A California Chamber of Commerce-supported bill that will restore the accessibility of key court electronic indexes for conducting background checks passed the Senate this week.
SB 1262 (Bradford; D-Gardena) preserves access to work by removing roadblocks to timely completion of employment background checks.
It passed the Senate with unanimous support on May 24 and moves on for consideration in the Assembly.
Specifically, SB 1262 restores the long-standing accessibility of driver license numbers and dates of birth in California court electronic indexes.
Due to the prevalence of common names, this critical information is necessary to establish whether a court record belongs to a specific job or rental housing applicant. Without a return to the status quo, an applicant’s name could produce hundreds or thousands of records unrelated to that individual.
Background Check Delays
A 2021 case out of Riverside County, California called All of Us or None of Us v. Hamrick halted thousands of background checks last summer when it incorrectly interpreted California Rule of Court 2.507 regarding court electronic indexes as prohibiting searches by date of birth or driver license numbers, including the ability to use this information as search filters.
This decision drastically limits the results returned to users of electronic indexes, causing the background check process to slow to a crawl or grind to a halt.
CalChamber members reported delays of multiple weeks in hiring and sometimes were unable to accurately complete a background check.
Restoring Access to Work
In urging legislators to support SB 1262, the CalChamber — joined by nearly 50 employer associations and chambers of commerce — pointed out that if organizations, including those that are legally mandated to perform background checks on applicants, can no longer use search filters such as date of birth and driver license number in conducting routine checks of court records, they will be left with nothing but names, and little or no way to associate a court record with a specific individual.
This is especially problematic, the CalChamber said, with the prevalence of common names. Hundreds — indeed, thousands — of potential false positives will result, rendering record search results meaningless.
Many businesses and nonprofits are required to perform background checks before they can put people to work. Even if not required, some organizations or apartment owners will conduct checks to ensure that they are maintaining a safe environment.
When a person wants a job or apartment, they often need that opportunity right away. It is vital that the ability to timely review applicants’ records is restored, because without SB 1262, those applicants are at risk of being denied access to work and housing, the CalChamber stated.
SB 1262 resolves this issue by explicitly allowing electronic indexes to be searched and filtered by a person’s driver license number or date of birth, or both. The bill is essential to timely placing applicants in open job positions and ensuring Californians have access to work.