Integrated Security Services, Inc., New York

A Company Like Amazon Needs More Than Just Any Background Check

02 Jul

Amazon offices Joshua Daniel Franklin/flickr

Large companies like Amazon are routinely involved in high-volume recruiting campaigns. However, not enough emphasis is placed on the importance of quality background checks.

This past April, Amazon and a third-party staffing agency called Staff Management Solutions LLC (SMX) were hit with a class action lawsuit in Washington state federal court.

According to, the suit claims that Amazon and SMX violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which requires potential employers to disclose the results of a background check before making hiring decisions. This gives the prospective employee an opportunity to address the findings and correct or contest any potential errors in the report, as the Federal Trade Commission explains.

The plaintiff, Gregory Williams, brought the lawsuit alleging that he was denied employment as a “puller” in an Amazon warehouse after a background check found a misdemeanor for an open container and a felony charge for possession of cocaine.

While the misdemeanor wasn’t enough to impact his chances for the position, the felony charge immediately disqualified him from consideration. The only problem: Williams had never actually been charged with the crime. The lawsuit stated that, because Amazon never disclosed the results of the background check, Williams never got a chance to correct their mistake.

Upward Trend

Background checks have become an increasingly crucial aspect of business in recent years. A study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management indicated that over 87% of companies conduct background checks during the hiring process.

Sterling Infosystems Inc., the company hired by Amazon and SMX to conduct the background check on Williams, has made the most of the surge in demand for criminal background reports.

According to the company’s website, Sterling has more than 2,600 employees conducting over 16 million background checks for 20,000 customers each year — Sterling CEO and founder Bill Greenblatt expects revenues to surpass $1 billion in the next five years, as Crain’s reports.

But in its aim to maximize profits, Sterling appears to have let its standards slide. In the last few years, a number of suits similar to the Williams case have popped up as a result of inaccurate and sloppy investigations.

The truth of the matter is that Sterling and other firms aren’t concerned so much with quality as they are with expanding their enterprise, resulting in costly lawsuits and settlements for the companies that hire them.

Make Quality and Accuracy a Priority

Major companies do not have time to oversee every detail of their monolithic hiring process, but minor mistakes can end up costing them millions. This is why it is even more important to hire qualified private investigation firms, such as Integrated Security Services, to get the job done right.

Integrated Security Services has the requisite experience, dedication, and resources to ensure accurate pre-employment screening services, all with a personal touch and attention to detail that the larger, overextended background computer generated conglomerates cannot be bothered to offer.

Integrated always provides a meticulous and comprehensive report on all of its findings. If a red flag or criminal related matter appears on the applicant’s profile, the findings are discussed with the client. Furthermore, a recommendation is made, to obtain all court related court documents, in order to ensure that we are dealing with the correct applicant.

This ensures that if inaccuracies are found, innocent prospective hires will have a chance to clear their names and build a future with a new employer, and the employer effectively mitigates the risk for FCRA-based lawsuits. At the end of the day, it is not just about accuracy — it is about making sure everyone gets a fair chance.