Utah State Senate Fights against Arrest Reports in Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 2/10/2014

Those who follow EEOC regulations on employment background checks know that records of arrests, if those arrests did not lead to criminal convictions, cannot traditionally be used to bar an applicant from employment. In a society that presumes the innocence of its citizens until that presumption is proven false in court, an arrest report means next to nothing. Without a criminal conviction to tie to an arrest, an employer will have difficulty drawing any concrete assumptions about an applicant from that information. For that reason, the EEOC has long frowned upon the use of any arrest reports in background checks, to the point where many vendors that offer criminal background included – do not even include arrest records with their final background reports.

However, in the state of Utah, a battle is still being waged regarding arrest reports and background checks. Apparently, many pre-employment background screenings performed in the state continue to release arrest reports as part of employment-related background checks, and according to The Salt Lake Tribune, many employers have taken to viewing instances of arrest as black marks that can fairly disqualify applicants from consideration. Curt Bramble, a Republican State Senator hailing from Provo, Utah, told the Tribune that an arrest report can follow a job searcher around for years and hinder his or her chances at employment, even though the existence of the arrest offers no proof that the individual in question was ever guilty of a crime.

Bramble, however, is not okay with this situation and the Senator turned is concerns about the background check issue into a bill – Senate Bill 145, to be exact – that could make it illegal for employment background check reports in Utah to include any information on arrest history that did not lead to a conviction. The bill passed resoundingly in the Senate – earning a unanimous 26-0 vote victory – and will now proceed on to the House for further consideration and approval.

The way that Bramble sees it, the current background check system in the state of Utah gives the government all the power, leaving the people and the workers with none. The Senator stated that the government could essentially shut someone out of employment prospects by simply creating an arrest report, which would then show up on background checks for the foreseeable future – if not forever. Bramble views his bill as a defense of “individual liberty and freedom” and of the “innocent until proven guilty” concept, and hopes that it will help to create a more equal opportunity employment landscape.


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