Background Check Expert Helps Employers Avoid FCRA Lawsuits

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

With litigation against employers conducting background checks mushrooming, Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), will present a webinar with Compliance World – ‘The Explosion of Lawsuits against Employers under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – Traps and Pitfalls to Avoid’ – on February 17, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM PT/1:00 PM to 2:30 AM ET.

“These FCRA class action lawsuits against employers have become very common,” says Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ the first comprehensive guide to background checks for employment purposes. “Ironically, these suits often could have been easily avoided. More often than not, employers are sued for violating FCRA 101 – simple rules and procedures that are clearly set out in the law.”

In the 90 minute webinar, approved by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) as eligible for 1.5 credits, Rosen will explain that most of claims of alleged FCRA violations involve aspects of the employer’s screening process that could be easily remedied to comply with the FCRA. The webinar will review the following areas where employers should review practices and procedures to avoid FCRA litigation:

  • Employer failed to obtain written authorization from the job applicant to obtain the consumer report or provide a disclosure to the consumer as required by the FCRA.
  • Employer failed to provide plaintiff with document consisting solely of the stand-alone disclosure as required by the FCRA.
  • Failure to comply with “pre-adverse action” requirements or allow sufficient time for a consumer to respond as required by the FCRA.
  • Failure to provide applicant with a post-adverse action notice as required by the FCRA.

Class action lawsuits for alleged violations of the FCRA, a federal law that controls the process of pre-employment background checks in the United States, have sharply increased. Well known companies such as Food Lion, Home Depot, Chuck E. Cheese, BMW, Whole Foods, Calvin Klein, and Wells Fargo have paid settlements in FCRA lawsuits ranging from $716,400 to $12 million since the start of 2015.

Rosen explains that the reason FCRA class action lawsuits make a tempting target is that the damages being sought can be enormous. Under the FCRA, if there is an allegation of a “willful” violation, a class action lawsuit can ask for damages in the amount of $100 to $1,000 for every consumer impacted. “For big businesses that handle a large volume of job applicants, that can add up quickly,” Rosen says.

“There have been cases where employers have settled claims for millions of dollars simply because they did not spend a few minutes reviewing their process or have a competent FCRA lawyer or other expert review their practices,” explains Rosen, a frequent presenter on background check issues with the ‘ESR Speaks’ program. “Often times it is just a failure to dot the ‘i’s’ and cross the ‘t’s’,” he adds.

Rosen founded Employment Screening Resources (ESR) in 1997 and the firm is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). He was the chairperson of the steering committee that founded the NAPBS and served as first co-chair. He also has qualified and testified as an expert witness on safe hiring. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this web site is for educational purposes only.

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