Michigan’s Hidden Birthdates May Leave Jobseekers Out of Luck

A new rule set to take effect on January 1st, 2022, may cause many job seekers some unexpected difficulty. Many job seekers and employers alike aren’t aware, but a rule from the Michigan State Court Administrative office is set to redact birthdates from public records.

This new rule will make it difficult and, in many cases, impossible to perform a background check. Many legislators, employers, and background screening services are protesting this new rule which would be yet another barrier between jobseekers and employment.

The issue is that without a date of birth, it is often impossible to be certain whether a specific individual is linked to a particular crime on record. For example, those with a common name like John Smith may request a background check on themselves to show to employers, but there may be thousands of crimes committed by a person named John Smith, and without a date of birth, it is impossible to say whether the particular John Smith in question committed them. This makes it impossible for a background check provider to perform a complete check.

So, for employers that need a background check to confirm a person can safely perform the job, such as for positions working with a vulnerable population, this may make them unwilling to hire new employees in the state. Many job seekers have protested this new rule as an unnecessary barrier between them and employment. For many employees, without receiving a background check, they simply cannot get the jobs they seek.

Though most people would agree that protecting personal information is a good thing, the fact is that birthdates have rarely been considered sensitive information. So far, 48 states have passed legislation regarding data breaches that require individuals to be informed when their data is breached. In 47 of these states, date of birth simply has not been classified as this type of information. This creates an extremely wide consensus that birthdates simply aren’t a type of personal information that requires protection.

One downstate court system in the state attempted to test the new rules and see how they would work out. Unfortunately, this predictably did not go well. The staff found themselves so overwhelmed that the court system chose to restore the old system after only one day.

Currently, many groups, including many state legislators, are campaigning for the sake of job seekers and employers alike to have the order canceled before it goes into effect at the start of next year.

Your personal background check is required for literally everything in your life these days, from employers to rentals. Take control of yours.


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