FCRA Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Background Checks

Written By Thomas Ahearn

Class Action Lawsuit BlogsA Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) class action lawsuit filed in a Georgia federal court alleges that a rent-to-own retailer ran background checks and credit reports on employees and job applicants without providing copies of the reports and took adverse employment action against applicants and employees without giving them access to the reports or informing them of their rights under the FCRA. A copy of the Complaint is available at http://thejordanfirm.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/1-main.pdf.

According to the Complaint filed July 3, 2014, the Plaintiff, Daniel Antoine, individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals, brought this class action lawsuit against the Defendant, Aaron’s, Inc., a Georgia corporation, for willful violations of the FCRA. The class action lawsuit accuses Aaron’s of allegedly failing to provide pre-adverse action notices required under the FCRA to job applicants and employees – including a copy of the background check report and a summary of FCRA rights – prior to taking adverse action.

The FCRA was enacted to promote the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information in files of consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to protect applicants for employment and employees from adverse employment action taken as the result of inaccurate information. Employers who use consumer reports on applicants and employees are required to provide express disclosures and a summary of rights before taking adverse employment action based on information contained in the background check reports.

The class action lawsuit alleges Aaron’s willfully violated the FCRA by procuring background checks and consumer reports about job applicants and employees but failing to provide such applicants and employees with copies of the reports and a summary of their FCRA rights before taking adverse action against them:

In short, in violation of the FCRA Aaron’s fails to provide its applicants and employees with both a copy of the background checks/consumer reports it procures together with a description of their rights under the FCRA before taking adverse employment action against them, where the adverse action is based in whole or in part on the consumer report. See 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(3).

As a result of Aaron’s willful violations of the Act, job seekers, such as Plaintiff Antoine, are deprived of rights guaranteed to them by federal law and are thus entitled to statutory damages of at least $100 and not more than $1,000 for each violation. See 15 U.S.C. § 1681n(a)(1)(A).

The class action lawsuit is ANTOINE v. AARON’S, INC., 1:14-cv-02120. A copy of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) 15 USC § 1681 et seq is available at http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-credit-reporting-act.

“This type of litigation demonstrates the need for employers to ensure that they are following the basic FCRA requirements,” says Attorney Lester Rosen, CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a nationwide background check firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners® (NAPBS). “Employers need to exercise due diligence in hiring but at the same time they need to audit their background check practices when it comes to legal compliance and there are numerous resources available to assist them.”

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued a joint publication titled ‘Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know’ to explain how compliance with the FCRA and anti-discrimination laws intersect when employers use employment screening background checks. The publication is available online at http://business.ftc.gov/documents/0487-background-checks-what-employers-need-know. [PDF]

More class action lawsuit blogs from ESR News are available at http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/class-action-lawsuits/.