Starbucks Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Alleged FCRA Violations during Applicant Background Checks

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A class action complaint filed in a federal court in Georgia against Starbucks Corporation claims the coffeehouse chain allegedly violated required provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by not giving job applicants the chance to correct inaccurate information on their background check reports.

In the complaint filed September 20, 2017, Plaintiff Kevin Wills claims Defendant Starbucks “willfully violated” the FCRA by taking adverse employment action against him and others based on a consumer report without first providing them with a copy of their reports and a written description of their rights under the FCRA.

FCRA Section §1681b(b)(3)(A) requires that employers taking any adverse action “based in whole or in part on a consumer report used for employment purposes” must first provide to the consumer: (a) a copy of the report, and (b) a description in writing of the rights of the consumer under the FCRA.

Wills, a resident of Georgia, applied for a job with Starbucks at a Buford, Georgia store location in September 2015. He was hired for the position pending the results of his criminal background check and – having no criminal history – did not anticipate any problems with his background report.

According to the complaint: “The consumer report provided to Starbucks included a statement that Kevin W. Willis of Minnesota had been convicted twice of domestic violence. Plaintiff has never used the name Kevin Willis and does not spell his name like Kevin Willis, nor has he ever resided in Minnesota.”

Wills claims the information was erroneously mixed into his report by “Starbucks background reporting company.” Starbucks then took adverse employment action against Wills by informing him over the telephone that the criminal history on his consumer report disqualified him from working for them.

Days after being orally declined employment, Wills claims he received a letter from the background reporting company on behalf of Starbucks enclosing a copy of his report in violation of FCRA Section §1681b(b)(3)(A) since a copy of the report should have be given to him before any adverse action was taken.

A primary reason why employers must “provide the report to the consumer before taking the adverse action is so the consumer has time to review the report and dispute information that may be inaccurate, or discuss the report with the prospective employer before adverse action is taken,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit seeks a Class of U.S. residents who had an adverse action taken against them by Starbucks based in whole or in part on a consumer report, and to whom Starbucks did not provide a copy of the report and a written description of rights at least five (5) business days before adverse action was taken.

Awards for FCRA violations range from $100 to $1,000 per violation. The class action complaint is Wills v. Starbucks Corp., Case No. 1:17-cv-03654, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia is available at www.esrcheck.com/file/Wills-v-Starbucks_Class-Action-Complaint.pdf.

Enacted in 1970, the FCRA is federal legislation that promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information in the files of consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) and protects consumers from the willful and/or negligent inclusion of inaccurate information in their background check reports.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) reminds readers that allegations alone made in class action lawsuits are not proof that a business or person violated any law, rule, or regulation.

ESR Whitepaper on Common Reasons for FCRA Lawsuits

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen has written a whitepaper entitled “Common Ways Prospective or Current Employees Sue Employers Under the FCRA” that is available at www.esrcheck.com/Whitepapers/Ways-Employees-Sue-Employers-Under-FCRA/.

In the whitepaper, Rosen – author of “The Safe Hiring Manual” – explains how FCRA class action lawsuits are becoming more common but can be easily avoided since, more often than not, most employers are sued for violating “FCRA 101,” simple rules and procedures that are clearly set out in the law.

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

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