Court Rules Job Seeker May Sue Data Aggregator for Inaccurate Information

The San Francisco, CA-based Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled an unemployed job seeker may sue a data aggregator that inaccurately described him as wealthy and well educated by alleging a violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) “without showing actual harm.” The opinion of the court is available at http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2014/02/04/11-56843.pdf.

According to a report on the Courthouse News Service website, Virginia resident Thomas Robins claimed his job search was hampered by his description as a high earner with a graduate degree on Spokeo, “a search engine that aggregates information about individuals.” Robins proposed a class action in 2010 against Spokeo but the judge found Robins “had failed to show that he had suffered any actual harm.”

Courthouse News Service reports a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court reversed that decision by ruling Robins can allege a violation of the FCRA since the “statutory cause of action does not require a showing of actual harm when a plaintiff sues for willful violations.” The Courthouse News Service report about the case is available at http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/02/04/65099.htm.

A statement on the Spokeo website under the heading ‘Prohibited use for businesses’ says the company “is not a credit reporting agency or eligibility tool” and “may not be used to determine employment, housing, or credit eligibility or for any other purpose specified in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).” The statement is available on the bottom of the web page at http://www.spokeo.com/business-uses.

As reported earlier on the ESR News Blog in June 2012, Spokeo agreed to pay a $800,000 fine to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that the company allegedly marketed information to employers and recruiters without taking steps to protect consumers as required by the FCRA. An FTC press release about the Spokeo settlement is available at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/06/spokeo.shtm.

For more information about FCRA compliant background checks for employers, please visit Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and a nationwide background screening firm accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at http://www.esrcheck.com/, call Toll Free 888.999.4474, or email sales@esrcheck.com.

Related ESR News Blog: https://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2012/06/13/ftc-fines-data-broker-spokeo-800000-dollars-to-settle-charges-of-violating-fair-credit-reporting-act/

About Employment Screening Resources® (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Lester Rosen in the San Francisco, CA-area in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. ESR provides Effortless Legal Compliance, Proven Expertise, Less Work/Lower Cost, Results You Can Trust, and Painless Migration. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com, call toll free 888.999.4474, or email sales@esrcheck.com.