Job offer, but no job? Background checks for potential employees in metro county delayed

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A computer upgrade in one county's clerk of courts office is having widespread consequences no one saw coming: Background checks for potential employees of many companies are being delayed.

Over the last couple of weeks, Channel 2's Gwinnett County bureau chief Tony Thomas received several emails and phone calls from frantic viewers.

The viewers said they are ready to start new jobs, but an issue that is out of their control is putting them, in some cases, on the verge of bankruptcy.

Thomas met with a couple, Thomas and Christina Harbin, who said they don’t know where to turn.

“I'm actually taking cash jobs so I can put gas and groceries in the car,” Harbin said.

The unemployed father has three job offers on the table but can't start any of them because of the backlog for background checks.


After receiving several complaints from people in similar situations, Thomas went directly to the clerk of courts to find out what's going on.

Richard Alexander told Channel 2 Action News in May that, his office converted to a new case management system. The two programs won't talk to each other, so the transition has taken weeks.

“We have maybe in the neighborhood of 4 million cases that were pushed from the old system into the new system,” Alexander said.

Officials didn't realize at the time how many companies use the clerk’s system for background checks. None could be done while the system was down.

“It was painful for some people and for us, too, because our phones rang off the hook,” Alexander said.

The Harbins are still waiting for the call that will enable Thomas Harbin to start work.

“We've had families' help, but with rent around the corner, what are we going to do?” Christina Harbin said.

“It's even got to the point my right to work has been taken away,” Thomas Harbin said.

The clerk of courts said companies could also do statewide background checks through the Georgia Bureau of Investigation – but many don’t.