The Perception of the Invasion of Privacy

Background checks, the phrase brings with it a connotation of mystery. Many people aren’t even aware of what a background check entails. Many people are worried, wrongly I might add, about an invasion of privacy. Why do I, as an employer, get to know about your background? Well, there are many reasons but I would say that the most compelling among them is because I do not want to lose my business! Is it fair to judge someone based on their past performance? In many instances I would say yes! How come I get to pick and choose who works for my company? Because, it is my business! I owe my employees a safe workplace. I owe my family a secure future.

The perception of the invasion of privacy, what do I mean by that phrase? It means that people perceive a problem where there is none. Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe in just randomly running checks on people. But, I do believe that if I have a legitimate reason, I should and will run a background check on you. If you are working for my company I want to know what kind of a person you are. Many people mistakenly think that background checks are a new phenomenon brought about by 9/11 and the Patriot Act. The fact is; companies have been doing background checks on employees for ages. has been in business since 1991 and our main focus has always been background employment screening. Background checks are nothing new, but the perception that we are invading people’s privacy is relatively new.

Some of the arguments I hear against background checks on a regular basis are: “Background checks aren’t 100% effective, you can not catch everything”. While this is true, you will not catch every crime or every criminal that works for you and there certainly are people that have serious issues that will not be able to be detected, does this mean that we shouldn’t conduct them at all? The fact is, background checks are effective. Employers end up with fewer turnovers, less theft, and less violence; they also end up with an overall better class (grade) of employees. Another argument is: “It is none of my employer’s business what I do with my own time”. Really? With negligent hiring lawsuits at an all time high and the general litigiousness of today’s society it most certainly is your employer’s business. It is his business to protect his employees and his customers. The most umbrageous among the people that cry foul at background checks will usually be the first to file a lawsuit when Carl from accounting shoots up the place for some perceived slight.

Why is there all this outrage now aimed at background checks? One of the main reasons I believe is that people do not want to be held accountable for their actions. When you commit a crime and are convicted of it, it then becomes public record. Public record is just that, public! If you are convicted of theft, I am sorry but I don’t want you working with my assets. If you are a violent person, you are not going to be working with my customers. If you drive drunk, you are not getting behind the wheel of one of my vehicles. Should people who commit a crime and then serve their sentence be punished forever? No, absolutely not, I do believe that people can change; you have to admit though, if it came down to a choice of hiring someone with a criminal record and one without, most people would choose the person without a record.

Sometimes you just have to take personal responsibility. Yes people mess up, we are all human, but why blame society for a mistake that you made. Some people claim discrimination. Discrimination is based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, marital status, national origin or even age. If I don’t give you a job because you stole a car, that is not discrimination, that is good judgment on my part. Life in general has worked this way for a long time, even before computers. In the old west, if you came into my establishment and wanted a job working for me, that is just fine. But, let’s say that I knew you were a bank robber and that you had stolen from your last two employers, there is no way in heck that I am going to hire you and for good reason.

Let me get back to the idea of invasion of privacy. Here is my logic and what I believe to be the government’s logic as well. If you commit a crime and then go to court and get convicted; those charges are brought against you by “the people”. The people in this case being the general public. You are being convicted and punished by society in general for not following OUR laws. This crime that you committed and then were convicted of is then put into the court records. The same records that are paid for and maintained by the people’s tax money. In essence, you committed a crime against society (me) so therefore I have a right to know about it. It has been this way ever since we have had a court system. Contrary to popular belief you do not have a constitutional right to privacy. You can read an excellent article on the subject written here by Ted L. Moss.

Background checks are not an invasion of an individual’s privacy, but they are a way to protect life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They do this by helping to protect our employees, families and business. According to another famous document, that particular right is unalienable.