Recently, James Stewart of Fort Scott, Kansas was in the news because of the faulty nature of some criminal background checks. Like millions of other Americans, James had been out of work for about a year and a half, and no doubt was becoming desperate. Believe me, I am also well aware of the dreadful empty feeling in the pit of your stomach at not knowing where next month’s rent is going to come from.
In the case of Mr. Stewart, an incorrect background check was the reason he wasn’t being called back. In the past, he had applied to quite a number of jobs, and had been turned down. During the latest episode, when applying to a railroad company, he was told a felony on his criminal record kept him from being hired.
“It came back that I had been convicted of an opiate conviction, for a felony in the past seven years,” Stewart says. “That’s a little hard to believe, because I’ve never been arrested in my life.”
A note for potential employees; your prospective employer MUST inform you they are going to screen you. If they do not hire you based on negative information on a background check, they MUST also inform you of that decision, and give you a copy of the report if you ask for it, along with information for how to dispute incorrect records. It seems that procedure was not followed in the case of Mr. Stewart.
An employment screening company in Little Rock, Arkansas known as Acxiom Company was the provider. However, what tipped James Stewart was not the lack of being hired, but another case that stirred his curiosity enough to check it out himself.
Mr. James proved the case numbers on the background check didn’t match with those in the court records. However, despite bringing this to the attention of Acxiom, he was told they would simply put a statement in the record alongside the alleged conviction.
I can only imagine the anger this must have incited in Mr. Stewart. Michael Gayoso, the Crawford County, Kansas, prosecutor said perhaps there were a number of other options beside a lawsuit.
“If they’re getting it from a law enforcement agency, then yes, that can be remedied by law enforcement,” Gayoso says. “If they are getting it from an independent, private source, then there’s really no remedy that they have.”
In the meantime Mr. Stewart is even cashing out a life insurance policy to stay on top of the never ending stream of bills. Stewart said: ”Really, it’s a rock and a hard place, and I’ve got to get it corrected, because it isn’t me.”
Now for some good news: Just today I found out that Mr. Stewart has been working with the Crawford County sheriff’s department, and managed to clear his name so a criminal records search in the future don’t show erroneous information. His records had been mixed up with another individual who had the same name.
Even the president of Acxiom contacted Mr. Stewart and worked with him on a resolution. The greatest thing to come out of this whole debacle was the Mr. Stewart was hired by the railroad company, and is on his way to getting a semblance of normalcy back into his life.
You may looked at your own record in order to see what’s up. Well, the bad news is that most consumer accessible services are worthless, and will only result in wasted money on your part. However, among the options there are consumer accessible criminal background checks that are definitely superior to the rest, and depending on the state you live in, will have more or less comprehensive records. The directory is a good place to start a search.
Categories: Personal Background Check