A California Chamber of Commerce-supported bill that will restore the accessibility of key court electronic indexes for conducting background checks passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week.
The proposal, SB 1262 (Bradford; D-Gardena), preserves access to work by removing roadblocks to timely completion of employment background checks.
The bill restores the longstanding accessibility of driver license numbers (DLN) and dates of birth (DOB) 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, rendering it impossible to complete an accurate background check.
Appeals Court Decision
Last May, a California Court of Appeals decision, All of Us or None of Us v. Hamrick, halted the 20-year practice of using DLNs and DOBs to filter through records by incorrectly interpreting California Rule of Court 2.507 as prohibiting any electronic access in indexes of DOBs or DLNs, 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.
In a recent letter submitted to legislators and signed by more than 50 businesses and organizations, the CalChamber 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 a 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 with the prevalence of common names. Hundreds—indeed, thousands—of potential false positives will result, rendering record search results meaningless, the CalChamber said.
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 warned.