CalChamber-Supported Background Checks Bill Awaiting Senate Action

A California Chamber of Commerce-supported bill that will restore the accessibility of key court electronic indexes for conducting background checks will be considered by the full Senate, as soon as today. If the proposal passes the Senate floor, it will move on for consideration in the Assembly.

The proposal, SB 1262 (Bradford; D-Gardena), preserves access to work by removing roadblocks to timely completion of employment background checks. Specifically, SB 1262 restores the long-standing 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.

All of Us or None of Us v. Hamrick

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 support letter submitted to legislators, 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 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.

Staff Contact: Ashley Hoffman