Esteem is a corporate tool used by numerous corporations in hiring employees, as part of the pre-screening process. It's owned and controlled by ChoicePoint
, a credit bureau.
Quite simply, Esteem is a database containing a blacklist. Any employee caught shoplifting, stealing, or fired for such a reason is added to the database. That person stays in the database for at least 7 years, so prospective employers who subscribe to the database can screen out potential employee thieves. The person doesn't even have to be arrested, anyone reported for stealing goes in the database, convicted or not.
Who would use such a database? Retail stores, like CVS/Pharmacy, Target, etc. The US Retail market is massive, with 23 Million employees out of the 110 Million-person (non-government) workforce. Store "shrinkage"; a fancy term for shoplifting and theft, costs up to 2% of sales, 40% of which stems from employees stealing.
ChoicePoint brags on their website that their Esteem database includes 14 million criminal record files (largest in the Theft Database industry), as well as social security numbers. It's also a Contributory database, meaning clients can also add records to it of employees they've busted for shoplifting or theft. They claim it's more effective than a criminal background check, as smaller incidents of shoplifting in the workplace are often unreported to the police (more than 2/3 of the time), meaning a company has a risk of hiring an unconvicted thief.
Certain government regulations exist to restrict employee information, but of course a prospective employee waives some rights when applying, in order to perform a background check. Esteem is in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, so it is legal in America (and likely has ways to remove a person unfairly added to the list).
A partial list of stores that participate in the Esteem Database: