Claiming errors on his background check report that mistakenly indicated he had been convicted of a felony cost him a job, a man has filed several federal lawsuits including one against the background check company that allegedly compiled the report for violations of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information, the Grand Rapids (MI) Press reports.
The 53-year-old man had earned a permanent job at a baking company through a temp agency but lost employment after a background check showed a 2007 felony conviction in Florida which belonged to another man with the same name, according to the Grand Rapids Press report. He claims he was terminated by the baking company based on a “false” background check report and had to leave his family to find another job.
In his lawsuit against the background check company, the Grand Rapids Press reports that the man alleges the company failed “to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information” contained in the background check report and he is seeking compensation for lost wages and employment opportunity.
A Privacy Rights Clearinghouse research director quoted in the story said it is “not uncommon” for mistakes in background checks to be made. She also suspected many subjects of background checks did not even know about the reports or possible mistakes. However, while the FCRA requires employers to provide workers a chance to dispute errors in background reports, they do not have to hold the job open during the process.
The case is an example why employers should use accredited background check firms that have policies and procedures in place to ensure accuracy, says Attorney Les Rosen, President of Employment Screening Resources (ESR) and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’ In the event of an error in public records, employers are advised to utilize proper “adverse action” procedures so that any errors in reports can be quickly rectified.
Rosen says that under the FCRA, a subject of a background check report is entitled to a notice of pre-adverse action if a background check report is used in any way to deny employment, specifically to provide an escape valve if there is an error. “Public records are not perfect,” says Rosen, “and sometimes there can be criminal mistaken identity theft where a crime is committed by a person with the same name.”
For more information on background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a nationwide background check company accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at http://www.ESRcheck.com.
(ESR’s policy is to not identify any parties during litigation. To access the story in the Grand Rapids Press, visit: http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/04/lawsuit_draws_attention_to_pot.html.)
About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. ESR streamlines the screening process and reduces administrative overhead though its proprietary technology solutions. ESR is one of a select few firms accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). This important recognition was achieved by successfully passing a third party audit demonstrating compliance with the NAPBS Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about ESR, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com.