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California Redaction Laws Stall CRAs in Performing Background Checks

CA Blog

As many of you know by now, the 4th Appellate Court in the state of California made a ruling in All of Us or None – Riverside Chapter vs. W. Samuel Hamrick, which among other things instructed all Superior Courts in the state to remove the dates of birth (DOBs) from their online systems and public access terminals.

Of course, removing DOBs creates a major obstacle for background screening companies when they attempt confirm the identifiers needed to ensure that a criminal record belongs to the subject of a report.

It’s been approximately 60 days since these events began to unfold, but I’d like to give you some insight into the events as they occurred and how SJV has responded.

On July 20, 2021 the entire industry was shocked to learn that dates of birth would no longer be included on any court records. To make matters more difficult, none of the staff at these courts had any idea that these changes were made and were unable to provide any explanation. The good news, SJV quickly discovered, was that court researchers could still clear those individuals without criminal records. However, without DOB’s, those with “potential” records could not be processed. At SJV, we started to put all reports with potential records on hold.

Thanks to PBSA and companies like SJV, we advocated on behalf of the industry and approximately ten days later, we learned that a partial date of birth, both month and year, was repopulated on the public access terminals. Our team of proprietary researchers also realized they could confirm date of birth with court personnel, so while it wasn’t as efficient as when it was available on the court site, we were able to report records that included full DOB confirmation.

Unfortunately, this victory was short-lived— at least in Los Angeles County, when they announced on August 20th the court clerks would no longer be allowed to verify full date of birth.

After careful consideration and consultation with our clients, SJV decided that given the circumstances, we would have to report records using the partial date of birth. This certainly isn’t ideal for CRAs and employers, but it’s all we have to work with for now.

In the meantime, the same SJV team that proved so resourceful in solving other major court obstacles, such as the state of New Jersey’s move to online research only, continues to work through alternative solutions for confirming full date of birth. We are adding more proprietary researchers in places like Los Angeles to keep up with increasing demand in California and we’ve joined PBSA in their efforts to try to reverse this action through legislation or litigation.

This is a difficult situation for CRAs and employers of all sizes to grapple with. As always, SJV is here to help. Have questions about the unfolding events in California or need a partner that offers more transparency? Don't hesitate to reach out.

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