Background screening by employers is on the rise. There are many reasons a employer might perform a employer background check. Negligent hiring lawsuits are on the rise. If a companies employee hurts someone on the job the employer can be held liable.
A employer may choose to do a background check on its officers and directors as a result of what happened with the Enron crisis. To see if there is any history of fraud, theft etc.
There are some jobs that fall under federal and state laws that require background checks be done. For more information on background checks and privacy rights you can visit www.privacyrights.org.