Man Misidentified as Criminal on Background Check Awarded Over $3 Million

 FCRA-graphic

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A Florida man who was denied jobs after a background check company misidentified him twice as a criminal – one who just happened to have the same birth date and a similar name – has won a nearly $3.6 million verdict in federal court, according to a report on the Gainesville.com website.

Gainesville.com reports that a Gainesville, FL jury found the background check firm violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by misidentifying Richard Williams of Chiefland, FL as Ricky Williams, a man convicted of aggravated battery and arrested on charges of selling cocaine.

Gainesville.com reports that the verdict “includes $250,000 in compensatory damages for lost wages and $3.3 million in punitive damages.” Richard Williams was a finalist for a job at Rent-A-Center in Chiefland in 2012 when a background check performed on him incorrectly showed a cocaine arrest.

Williams filed a dispute, but Rent-A-Center decided not to hire him before the background check was corrected, Gainesville.com reports. Williams received a second letter about his background check that contained information about a “conviction for burglary and battery on a pregnant woman.”

Williams’ lead attorney said the background check company “did not follow its own procedures for people with common names or set up an effective procedure for someone already misidentified once” or use reports “that show Social Security numbers or address histories.” According to the report:

Publicly available records from the Department of Corrections showed Ricky Williams at 6-foot-2 while Richard Williams’ driver’s license lists him at 5-foot-10 and also showed that Ricky Williams was in jail in Broward County when Richard Williams applied for the job at Winn-Dixie.

The background check company argued “it followed reasonable procedures in matching first and last name and date of birth through its national criminal database and then obtained the same information at the county level showing criminal records,” Gainesville.com reports.

The background check company also stated “its procedures result in accurate reports 99.61 percent of the time.” The complete story is available online at www.gainesville.com/news/20161031/man-wins-nearly-36m-verdict-after-background-check-goofs.

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