The Importance of Civil Searches When Conducting a Background Check

According to statistics from the Department of Justice, four to five women are murdered by their partners each day in the United States, and more than two million women annually are injured in incidents of domestic violence, with more than 550,000 requiring medical attention. These incidents can follow an employee into the workplace, jeopardizing the safety of an entire organization.

In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control released a publication titled Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. Their data shows nearly eight million days of paid work are lost annually—the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs. They estimated the costs of this violence to be nearly $6 billion annually in 2003. By today’s standards, the amount would be much higher. Nearly one-third of women killed in U.S. workplaces between 2003-2008 were murdered by a former intimate partner.

Criminal record checks are common in background screening, but based on our expertise, civil searches should be as well. Civil indexes produce different results than criminal searches, and should be considered for a variety of reasons. First, civil searches produce Domestic Violence/Restraining Order cases. As an example, your applicant, Mary Jones, may be the victim of domestic violence. She has no criminal record herself, so you hire her. Had you searched in civil courts, however, you could have found multiple restraining orders for Mary and her husband over a period of years. These volatile relationship issues can spill over into your workplace through on-site harassment, repeated phone calls, workplace distraction, employee absenteeism, and potential deadly violence.

In addition to domestic violence, civil searches can also produce records of civil and/or sexual harassment with previous employers, premises liability (slip and fall), breach of contract, negligence, and other torts that can drastically affect a company’s productivity and profits.

Please feel free to contact our offices with any questions related to civil searches.


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