Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
A Green Bay, Wisconsin job seeker has won at least $230,000 in settlements from employers across the country involving alleged violations of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that regulates background checks for employment purposes in the United States, according to an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Journal Sentinel reports that Cory Groshek, 33, applied for 562 jobs over an 18 month period in an effort to catch companies in alleged FCRA violations, threatened to sue at least 46 companies that performed background checks on him for alleged FCRA violations, and received settlements from approximately 20 of these companies.
Under the FCRA, an employer may not procure a background check unless “a clear and conspicuous disclosure has been made in writing to the consumer at any time before the report is procured or caused to be procured, in a document that consists solely of the disclosure, that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes.”
The Journal Sentinel reports that “Groshek believed the FCRA required a separate, single-page disclosure of a company’s intent to obtain consumer credit reports. Some companies, Groshek found, included the disclosure in other documents. Some companies included it in an online application program.”
The Journal Sentinel also reports that “Groshek taught himself to spot when companies fail to properly make that disclosure, burying it in fine print or several pages of forms” and also “admitted during a deposition that he has applied for hundreds of jobs, hoping to initiate the background check process that could lead to an FCRA violation.”
A Motion to Dismiss filed in May of 2016 by Time Warner Cable Inc., one of the companies being sued by Groshek, claims that “Groshek is a professional plaintiff who admits to running a FCRA claims ‘business.’ His scheme is to apply for scores of jobs simply to cause the prospective employers to run a background check on him.”
The Motion to Dismiss also claims that Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling in the case of Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins holds that “Article III standing requires a concrete injury even in the context of a statutory violation” and that a plaintiff “cannot satisfy the demands of Article III by alleging a bare procedural violation” of the FCRA.
As reported by ESR News in May 2016, the Supreme Court ruled in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins that consumers must prove “concrete” injury in class action lawsuits for alleged “bare” violations of a federal statute and sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stating its Article III standing analysis in a decision to reverse a dismissal of the case was incomplete.
Whether or not the ruling in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins affects any of the cases involving alleged “bare” violations of the FCRA remains to be seen. The complete Journal Sentinel article is available at www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/professional-plaintiff-uses-credit-law-to-threaten-companies-win-230000-in-settlements-b99748699z1-384400481.html.
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