NAPBS Sues An Arkansas Court For Impeding Background Checks

August 14, 2018
The District Court of Benton County stopped providing essential records.
Backgrounds Online | August 14, 2018

The District Court of Benton County stopped providing records that are necessary to complete background checks in that area.

What’s Happening With The Court

The District Court of Benton County has been denying requests from Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) for records that are used to complete background check reports. According to the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), the court is doing this after misinterpreting the State Supreme Court's Administrative Order 19. NAPBS representatives believe the court’s current policy violates this order and existing state law.

After Benton County stopped provided records to CRAs, additional Arkansas courts followed suit. In total, ten courts adopted the policy of refusing to supply documents that should be made available to CRAs. This has become an issue for employers that rely on the data contained in court records to help them make informed decisions.

Background checks serve many essential purposes such as helping businesses create safe workplaces, confirm applicants are eligible for specific positions and learn if a candidate has a violent or otherwise serious criminal history that might make them ineligible for hire. Without these records, employers cannot review all the facts they need when hiring, considering a current employee for a promotion or handling other common duties.

The NAPBS Reacts

The NAPBS promotes ethics and performance standards for the background screening industry. Their core values include compliance, integrity and the advancement of knowledge. They have expressed a high level of concern over this ongoing issue in Arkansas and taken steps to remediate.

Step one was to contact the Arkansas State Judiciary Committee on Automation and ask for CRAs to regain the right to receive records from local courthouses. They also contacted state officials, the Governor and members of the Arkansas Legislature to make the same request. No assistance was provided, however, as the court’s decision was considered to be "within the Clerk's purview" based on the content of Administrative Order 19.

An NAPBS task force was created to “retain local legal counsel and guide outside counsel's decisions.” They acquired the services of a local law firm and sent letters to Arkansas courts asking them to start providing records to CRAs again. These letters advised that additional actions would be taken if the request was not met.

Progress So Far

After receiving these letters, seven courts started providing records again. The other three have continued to deny this service. To remedy this, the NAPBS and their legal counsel prepared litigation that asks for public records data services to be restored to all CRAs.

An official complaint against the Bentonville County District Court was submitted to the Arkansas State Court on July 20, 2018. The NAPBS is happy with their progress and believes they have a strong case for requiring the remaining courts to restore access to records that are necessary for background screening.

What This Means For Employers

Employers that operate in Arkansas should be aware that CRAs are currently unable to obtain records from Bentonville, Craighead County-Lake City, and Craighead County-Jonesboro Division courts. While the NAPBS is actively working on this, background checks that require records from those courthouses will either be delayed or must be completed without that data.

Backgrounds Online is proud to be an accredited member of the NAPBS. We strongly support their mission to uphold a high level of ethics, protect consumers and ensure the advancement of knowledge. Our team is committed to helping clients get the facts they need to create safe workplaces, protect their brands and make educated business decisions.

If you have questions about what we can do to enhance your hiring, background screening and onboarding efforts, please contact us today.