Background checks are a standard employment procedure. While pre-employment screenings are familiar, employee background checks – also called “routine background checks” – are also conducted but are not as common. Employee background checks for local Navy contactors in Virginia, however, resulted in many workers losing their jobs. At the same time, the company, LB&B, provided no answers to the employees as to why they were terminated. Many of these contractors had been with the company for several years, if not decades.
Routine background checks for Navy workers are federal homeland security requirements and are conducted on both employees and contractors. For the latter, contractors have fewer rights regarding employment. As a result, those fired do not have any protection in investigations, cannot dispute inaccurate or old information, and are not allowed an appeal process. The government, additionally, will not re-examine the results.
As a result, 15 percent of LB&B’s workforce has gone, and the company is having difficulty filling its positions with workers they deem “favorable.” In fact, only three out of 18 openings have been filled, and the cause is background checks. Those quoted in the article hypothesize that the company does not know how to interpret the results of a background check and may even be using illegal practices, such holding bankruptcy against an employee. A spokeswoman for the Navy Supply Systems Command is quoted as saying: “[The command’s various branches] do not employ trained adjudicators and therefore do not have the expertise to make trustworthiness determinations.”
She goes on to say:
“Final determinations are NOT made by NAVSUP commands. After all attempts to upgrade a no determination made… have been exhausted, the contractor company is advised to replace the employee with a ‘no determination made’ with an employee who holds a favorably adjudicated background investigation.”
An assistant regional fuel superintendant responsible for filling the openings agrees that the Navy needs to revise its standards for background checks, especially when it comes to credit history:
“It’s very hard, and we know it’s happening across the country, and we understand some portion of it. But at least come back to the individual and say, ‘Hey, we see this blemish, what caused this blemish, and is it still there?’ More thought needs to be put into the people that they say can’t work here anymore. They were all very good people, good citizens and then, bam.”
In modern times, the use of background checks – pre-employment and routine – are proliferating, but so are credit issues because of long-term unemployment or other financial difficulties resulting from the recession. Should an employee, one who has been with a company for several years, be fired because of poor credit history? And, should credit history even be used as an indicator of character and trustworthiness in the present?