CARSON CITY — A state agency for four years released incorrect background check information to companies on their job applicants, saying some people had been convicted of crimes that should not have disqualified them from employment, according to an audit released Wednesday.
The records bureau within the Department of Public Safety’s Records and Technology Division from July 2003 to October 2007 used the wrong criteria in conducting background checks for companies, legislative auditors found. Gaming companies, in particular, seek state background checks of their job applicants.
The agency’s staff used a list of crimes that were not found in state statutes to find that some applicants should not be hired. The list was found in a bill considered by the 2003 Legislature, but the measure did not become law.
When auditors informed the agency of its error on Oct. 5, 2007, the list was corrected, according to the audit.
The audit was released to the Legislature’s Audit Subcommittee, and exasperated legislators questioned whether any people who should have been hired were denied jobs. They also wondered whether the state had been sued by angry applicants.
Capt. Phil O’Neill, who runs the division, said he did not know of anyone who lost a job over the mistake, adding they might not have been hired for other reasons.
“No one asked for a clarification” over what was in the backgrounds report given employers, he added,
But in response to questions by Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, O’Neill admitted only employers received the background checks and applicants might not have been aware why they did not get jobs.
“That may be why you weren’t sued,” Leslie said.
O’Neill apologized for the error and said steps were taken immediately to prevent a recurrence.
According to the audit, the agency gave bad background checks to applicants convicted of misdemeanor DUIs and other minor crimes when the actual law stated such offenses should not be reported.
About 8,100 background checks using the incorrect disqualification criteria were given to companies during the 12 months before the error was discovered.
Auditors studied files of 30 job applicants who received the bad background checks and found in 13 cases the applicants should not have been disqualified from jobs.