CalChamber-Supported Background Check Bill Will Speed Up Job, Housing Applications

A California Chamber of Commerce-supported bill that will restore the accessibility of key court electronic indexes for conducting background checks will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee tomorrow.

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 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, rendering it impossible to complete an accurate background check.

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 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.

Staff Contact: Ashley Hoffman

Ashley Hoffman
Ashley Hoffman joined the California Chamber of Commerce in August 2020 as a policy advocate specializing in labor and employment and workers’ compensation issues. She was named a senior policy advocate starting January 1, 2024 in recognition of her efforts on behalf of members. Hoffman holds a B.A. with high honors in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law where she was a Michael T. Masin scholar, an editor at the UCLA Law Review, and staff member for the Women’s Law Journal. See full bio.