birth redactions

How Date of Birth Redactions Affect the Background Check Process

Sep 11, 2023 | Resources

When it comes to background checks, the need for accurate and comprehensive information has become an increasingly complex and pressing concern. One seemingly innocuous piece of information, your date of birth (DOB), holds significant power. In 2021, California introduced its birthdate redaction law that no longer makes identifiers, like birthdates, on court records accessible to the public online. 

But how does this seemingly minor alteration impact the background check process? In this article, we dive into how birth information is used in a background check, understanding California’s DOB redaction law, and how it affects employers for future hiring.

How Is Date of Birth Information Used During a Background Check?

In California, DOB information plays a crucial role in background checks as it helps verify the identity of the individual being screened. It allows background check providers to distinguish between individuals with similar names and ensure that all collected information pertains to the correct person.

When redacted or removed from a background check report, DOB information can significantly complicate the process. It becomes much more challenging to accurately match records and confirm someone’s identity without this key identifier. This can lead to delays, inaccuracies, and potentially incomplete background checks.

This can affect an individual’s job prospects or other aspects of their life that require a reliable background screening process. However, this redaction of birth information is often done to protect an individual’s privacy, striking a balance between personal data protection and the need for accurate background checks.

Are Employers Able to Ask For Date of Birth?

Under some circumstances, employers in California are allowed to request an applicant’s date of birth. It is important to note that an employer must comply with state and federal laws related to discrimination and privacy. 

Employers can typically ask for an applicant’s date of birth during the hiring process for legitimate purposes, like identifying eligibility to work, determining minimum age requirements for certain positions, and conducting background checks. Employers should be careful not to use this information for discriminatory purposes or in violation of anti-discrimination laws, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) at the federal level or the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) at the state level.

Additionally, employers should carefully handle an applicant’s date of birth to protect their privacy and ensure compliance with data protection laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Employers should have clear policies and procedures in place to safeguard personal information collected during the hiring process.

Understanding California’s Date of Birth Redaction Law

In recent years, California has taken significant steps to bolster data privacy and protection for its residents. One notable stride in this direction is the introduction of the date of birth redaction law, which has far-reaching implications for handling personal information in various contexts.

Enacted to help enhance privacy safeguards, this law requires the redaction of an individual’s DOB in certain public records, including background check reports. But what prompted this legislation, and what are the consequences?

The Introduction of California’s Birthdate Redaction Law

In California, Rule 2.507 of the California Rules of Court has been established to safeguard the privacy rights of individuals involved in criminal proceedings. This rule was tested in a legal case where the plaintiff, an organization dedicated to assisting former offenders, contended that using DOB and driver’s license numbers to access criminal history records violates Rule 2.507.

Since Rule 2.507 applies statewide, this court decision carries broad implications, mandating that all state courts restrict public access to identifiers like date of birth within court documents. Consequently, this measure conceals the identities of individuals with prior criminal records from public scrutiny.

California’s DOB Redaction Consequences

In California, there is a new challenge. With limited public access to personal identifiers like a person’s DOB, it has effectively hidden people’s birthdays, making it more difficult to perform background checks. Without the full birthdate, matching candidates to their criminal records rely on names and partial birth date information. 

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you cannot match criminal records to people based on names alone. Names are often too common, so it is not a fair or workable idea. Partial birth date information, like the month and year, is not much help either.

Now, background check companies only get Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from county court offices. This process can be slow and unpredictable because it involves waiting for responses from court clerks.

Some counties in California are making it even more complicated, requiring background check companies to set appointments, limiting time to one hour, charging extra fees for full birth date information, or limiting the number of daily requests. Some counties are even saying no to requests altogether.

What to Expect After DOB Redaction as an Employer

Because of DOB redactions, employers and background check companies should be prepared for the following:

  1. Background checks take longer, especially for people who currently live or have lived in California
  2. Higher costs, especially in places like Los Angeles
  3. Some background checks are becoming impossible for people with common names in counties that do not provide full birth date information.

As an employer, it is a good idea to keep in touch with your background check provider to understand which counties are causing issues and where things are going more smoothly. You might also want to let executives know so they can plan for the future of your hiring and business needs.

Background Checks With Pre-Employment Investigations

At Pre-Employment Investigations, we offer thorough pre-employment screening services, including employment verification. Our experienced team is ready to support you in confirming an applicant’s work history, allowing you to make well-informed hiring choices.

Have confidence in hiring for your organization’s future and take the first step to enhance your pre-employment screening process. Your success begins with the right employees, and we are here to help find them.

Reach out to us today to explore how our professional services can guide you in making informed hiring decisions and protecting your company’s future.