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When you were a kid, you may have heard threats about bad behavior going on your “permanent record.”

When you were a kid, you may have heard threats about bad behavior going on your “permanent record.”  Turns out, you may actually have a permanent record and it could be affecting your ability to get a job.

Some employers have started using third party database services that keep and distribute data about individuals’ employment history, such as a history of shoplifting.  The problem is that there aren’t the kind of checks on this reporting that there are in the criminal justice system, such as protection against coerced confessions.  According to the New York Times  many employees claim that they felt pressured into admitting that they stole merchandise even if they did not.  Instead of trained police officers, these “confessions” are often taken by store security personnel who may intimidate or trick an employee into stating that he or she committed some type of misconduct, even if it isn’t true.

It can be difficult for employees to challenge the information in one of these databases once it has been reported.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act mandates that individuals be told if information is being used against them and provided a copy of this information.  These databases also must provide people with the opportunity to contest false information and have it removed from their files.  An information sheet is provided here.

The problem is, many of these situations are essentially he said/she said.  If an employer reports false information, but the employee felt pressured into signing a confession (without due process protections such as being read his or her Miranda rights, for example), it’s going to be hard for the employee to get that information out of his or her file.  The Federal Trade Commission recently settled a case against one of these reporting companies. Click here to read more about this case. 

If you have been a victim of this type of false reporting, be sure to contest the information.  Ask the employer where it got the report on you, and contact the reporting company immediately and ask for a copy of any and all information it has that is being used against you.  You may have to pay a small fee.  Further, contact the Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore if you need help enforcing your rights!