Labor supports overhaul of FBI background checks

Bill would bolster accuracy of the system the FBI uses to perform criminal background checks

A consortium of 42 union and labor advocacy groups has endorsed a new bill that would improve the way the FBI does criminal background checks used for pre-employment screening.

The Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act (H.R. 5300), sponsored by Rep. Robert Scott (D-Va.), would bolster the accuracy of the system the FBI uses to perform about nine million criminal background checks for civil purposes, mostly for employment, according to a letter posted June 9 on the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers' (IFPTE) Web site.

The unions said the U.S. attorney general’s office estimates nearly half of the FBI records are incomplete or inaccurate, and that those faults result in lost jobs for many who would otherwise qualify. The system also raises civil rights concerns because of the disproportionate effect that criminal background checks have on people of color, the letter said.

“Moreover, because of the inaccurate FBI records, employers are denied workers of their choice and federal and state agencies that require criminal background checks end up diverting valuable time and resources on worker appeals challenging the accuracy of the FBI’s records,” the letter said.

The bill would require the FBI to track down incomplete or incorrect data before releasing it to authorized employers and government agencies, the letter said. The bill suggests that the FBI adopt the strategy it uses in tracking down incomplete criminal record information for federal gun checks required under the Brady Law. As a result of these investigations, two-thirds of the incomplete state records are updated in three business days, the letter noted.

Groups that signed the letter of support included IFPTE, the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Service Employees International Union.

 

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