Kenneth Schustereit was convicted of a misdemeanor theft charge in 1974; however, data brokers incorrectly reported his misdemeanor as a felony. The background check of his criminal report from those data brokers also stated that he spent seven years in prison, when he spent 51 days in county jail. Schustereit is a perfect example of why background screening companies must perform quality assurance on any and all criminal records received from public sources.
In 2004, Schustereit applied for employment with Home Depot, conducted an face-to-face interview, discussed salary and working hours, and even completed a drug test. Home Depot then requested a background check be performed and based on the results of the report, Schustereit did not receive an employment offer from their organization. Schustereit inquired into what the background check had revealed and learned about the incorrect information that Home Depot’s background screening provider at the time, ChoicePoint, reported about his criminal records. Needless to say, one can only imagine how many other employers rejected Schustereit based on his distant criminal past that disqualified him for employment with their organizations.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) specifically stipulates that only criminal convictions that occurred within the last seven years are reportable on employment background checks; however, California, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and Washington allow reporting of convictions that occurred up to ten years ago based on pay grades associated with certain positions.
It is evident that Kenneth Schustereit’s misdemeanor conviction should not have even been reported due to the length of time that has passed since the disposition date of 1974. In addition, the fact that the background screening provider erroneously reported the record as a felony instead of a misdemeanor further calls for stringent adherence to the FCRA’s guidelines.