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What to Do When the Background Check Says "Case Pending"?

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Employers in various industries use background checks as part of the standard employment hiring process. When a background check yields a result of "case pending," it means there is a criminal case that the person hasn't been convicted of yet. Background checks are not limited to any particular industry. You can be sure that insurance and financial services conduct background checks, along with law enforcement, child care, and any industry where driving and machinery are involved.

Pending Cases

There are a variety of pending cases that might come to light in a background check. These include felony and misdemeanor charges. "Case pending" doesn't mean you will be convicted; it just means the item isn't resolved at the time of the background check report. However, your future job position might be affected, for example, if you are applying for a driver's position and the pending issue is a DUI charge. Conversely, a domestic violence charge made during a divorce might not have as much impact on an employer's decision. Banks and financial institutions are required by law to hold any pending applications. If a pending case involves insurance fraud, money laundering or other financial misdemeanors or felonies, you need to be cleared of charges before any job application can move forward.

Improve Chances of Hiring

Make sure you answer all application questions honestly when completing the job application. You don't need to volunteer information if you aren't asked something, but remember that you don't want to be perceived as hiding information. If there is something you are aware of that is pending, be up-front, and provide any explanation of the pending action. While there are certain situations where an employer's hands are tied based on company or industry rules, many situations might not have a large impact on the process -- and employers prefer to not be blindsided.

An example is pending action regarding any job that involves money. If you are applying for any position where money handling is a requirement, say at a check-cashing office, then the case must be resolved and discharged for the entity to continue with the hiring process.

Fixing Mistakes

If something shows up erroneously, such as an expunged case, you may need to take further legal action legally to have your background cleared of the issue. There are situations of mistaken identity and even identity theft than might lead to a "case pending" situation on your background report. Contact the agency performing the report to get all information and see what needs to be done to correct it. If someone at the company got your birth date wrong, for example, you might be getting a background hit for someone else with the same name.

State Laws Vary

The state where the background check is performed affects what shows up on the report and how it can be used in the process. Many states, like California, allow employers to make hiring decisions based on pending information. Some state background checks won't show misdemeanors -- only felony charges. It might be worth calling a background check company to inquire about state laws and how they might affect you in your employment search process.


Kimberlee Leonard has trained more hundreds of professionals in telemarketing, sales and promotional events over the past 20 years. She brings humor and simplicity to her writing whether writing for small local brands such as Hawaii's or major marketing sites such as Kimberlee is a proud fourth generation Hawaii local.

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