Have you been denied a job because of a false background check? You may have a case.
Many employers conduct pre-employment screenings such as background checks as part of the hiring process. The background check results must typically be obtained before you can start a job after receiving an offer. Most people don’t think that there will be mistakes in their background checks. Regrettably, mistakes in background checks frequently occur and can prevent you from getting hired. You have the right to review the background report first to ensure the accuracy of the information.
Background Reports Sometimes Contain False Information
Incorrect criminal history on a background check is frequently caused by having the same name, and/or similar background information. All it takes is a background check company failing to verify that the information is correct.
The Law requires credit reporting agencies to use Reasonable Procedures to Ensure Maximum Possible Accuracy.
What exactly does the Fair Credit Reporting Act Require?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer credit information by credit reporting agencies. The law was enacted in 1970 and has been amended several times since then, most recently in 2020. It imposes certain obligations on companies that report information to credit bureaus, the credit reporting agencies themselves, and on employers that obtain credit reports to run background checks.
Under the FCRA, consumers have the right to know what information credit reporting agencies have about them and to dispute any inaccuracies in their credit reports. The law requires credit reporting agencies to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report once a year and to investigate any disputes within 30 days.
Additionally, employers are not allowed to reject your application for employment without first showing you the background report they obtained and providing you with a reasonable period of time to address any issues. This procedure lets you dispute false information (maybe they found a record of a different person with the same name).
Employees’ Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides employees with certain rights. Here are some of the key employee rights under the FCRA:
● Consent: Before an employer can access an employee’s credit report, they must obtain written consent from the employee. You should be asked to sign a document that authorizes a credit report. Most often, this will be done when a job is being offered or when an employee is applying for a promotion.
● Disclosure: Employers may not take adverse action against you based on information in the employee’s credit report unless they first provide the employee with a copy of the report and a summary of their FCRA rights and give you a reasonable period of time to respond.
● Accuracy: Credit Reporting Agencies must take steps to ensure the accuracy of the information in the employee’s credit report and must promptly notify the employee if they find any errors. Indeed, the FCRA requires CRAs to use “reasonable procedures to ensure maximum possible accuracy.
● Limitations on Use: Employers can only use credit information for employment purposes that are “substantially job-related.” They must also keep the information confidential and cannot disclose it to unauthorized parties.
● Legal Remedies: Employees have the right to sue employers and CRAs who violate their rights under the FCRA and can recover damages, including actual damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.
It should be noted that worker background checks are becoming more and more common. Indeed, many employers across a large number of industries are increasingly relying on comprehensive background checks, including credit checks. In an age where identity theft is a huge concern, there are major questions about the accuracy of credit reports. It is imperative that all employees understand their legal rights under the FCRA. You can challenge an FCRA violation. If you have questions about your options, our Massachusetts & Connecticut employee rights lawyer can help.
- Several Cases of Background Checks Revealing False Criminal Information
In 2013, Domino’s Pizza agreed to pay $2.5 million to affected delivery drivers to resolve a case involving Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations. The case, Singleton v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC, was heard in a court in Maryland. In the case, the representative plaintiffs brought a class action claim on behalf of Domino’s employees and prospective employees who argued that the company willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by taking adverse employment actions against them without providing a copy of their background check.
One of the representative plaintiffs (Justin D’Heilly) was terminated based on information obtained through a credit report. However, Mr. D’Heilly never received a copy of the report from his employer nor was he granted a reasonable opportunity to respond to any inaccuracies in the report(s). The class action FCRA lawsuit was eventually settled by the employer for approximately $2.5 million.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are My Rights Regarding Employee Background Checks?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), employees have several rights when it comes to background checks. Firstly, employers must obtain the employee’s written consent before conducting a background check. Secondly, employees have the right to receive a copy of the report if it’s used to take adverse action, such as not hiring or firing them. Thirdly, employees have the right to dispute inaccurate information in the report. Lastly, employers must notify employees if they intend to take adverse action based on the report and provide the employee with a summary of their rights under the FCRA. All employees should understand their rights and protections under the FCRA.
What are the Rules for Employee Background Checks?
The FCRA puts a number of important rules and regulations in place for employee background checks. All employers that obtain credit information for the purposes of running employee background checks must follow the rules. Among other things, key regulations include:
● Obtaining employee consent before running a background check;
● Providing an employee with a copy of the report before making an adverse decision; and
● Granting an employee the reasonable opportunity to fix material inaccuracies.
An employer that violates consumer/worker rights under the FCRA may be held legally accountable, potentially including the paying of damages and the provision of other remedies. FCRA cases may be brought by a single worker or they may be class action claims on behalf of many employees.
What is an Adverse Employment Action?
Your rights may have been violated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act if your employer (or a prospective employer) took adverse action against you based on unfavorable information obtained in a credit report and the employer failed to follow the requirements under the law. An adverse employment action is a negative employment decision taken by an employer against an employee or job applicant. Adverse employment actions can include not hiring an applicant, firing an employee, demoting them, reducing their hours, or decreasing their pay.
What Remedies are Available for Background Checks Violations?
Individuals who have suffered harm due to violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) have several remedies available to them. Firstly, they may be entitled to actual damages caused by the violations, such as lost wages or other financial losses. Secondly, individuals may be entitled to statutory damages, which range from statutory damages are $100 to $1,000 per violation of the FCRA. Thirdly, punitive damages may also be awarded in cases of willful or reckless violations of the FCRA. Additionally, individuals may be entitled to attorney’s fees and costs. If you have any specific questions or concerns about the remedies that are available to you if your rights were violated under the FCRA, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced Massachusetts & Connecticut lawyers for immediate assistance.
What if I Plead Guilty But Did Not Actually Commit the Offense?
If you believe that your credit report or other background check information is materially misleading, it is crucial that you contact an experienced attorney right away. The employee rights advocates at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC can help you navigate complex legal questions, including how to handle a matter where you plead guilty to an offense that you did not commit.
How Our Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Attorneys Can Help?
Fair Credit Reporting Act cases are complicated. You do not have to navigate the complexities of the legal claims process all alone. At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC, we are devoted employee rights advocates. Our firm goes above and beyond to protect the rights and interests of our clients. We take a proactive and solutions-driven approach. Among other things, our employee rights lawyers will:
● Listen to your story and answer questions about your rights under the FCRA;
● Investigate your case, gathering any relevant evidence and information; and
● Take action to pursue every remedy under the law, potentially including compensation.
Schedule a Consultation With Our Connecticut and Massachusetts FCRA Lawyers Today
At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC, our employee rights attorneys are committed to putting your best interests first. If you have any questions about a Fair Credit Reporting Act case, we are here to help. Give us a phone call at (860) 522-8888 or connect with us directly online to set up a strictly private, no-obligation legal consultation. From our legal offices in Hartford, New Haven County, Springfield, and Northampton, we handle FCRA claims throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts.