California Court of Appeal Sides with Employer in FCRA Lawsuit Months after Siding with Applicant in Similar Case

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On April 15, 2019, the Court of Appeal of California affirmed summary judgment for an employer in Culberson v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, a class action lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law that regulates the use of background checks in the United States.

The ruling came nearly three months after the Court of Appeal ruled for an applicant in the similar case of Gilberg v. California Check Cashing Stores on January 29, 2019, which found the FCRA prohibits extraneous information in required disclosures, even individual’s rights or state-mandated disclosures.

In Culberson v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, plaintiff Roger Culberson claimed he received a background check disclosure from Disney with extraneous information, a violation of the FCRA requirement that the disclosure must be in a “standalone” document that “consists solely of the disclosure.”

Plaintiff Culberson also claimed that Disney made an “adverse action” by deciding not to hire him “based in whole or in part” on information from the background check report without giving adequate notice before making that decision, which violated the FCRA “pre-adverse action notice” requirement.

After a trial court granted summary judgment for the employer on both the “standalone” and “adverse action” claims by concluding that the alleged violations of the FCRA were not “willful,” the plaintiff appealed ruling to the Court of Appeal of California, which affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

Enacted by Congress in 1970, the FCRA promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information from consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) – a name for background check firms – and protects consumers from the willful and/or negligent inclusion of inaccurate information in background check reports.

Costly class action lawsuits involving the FCRA are one of the main compliance concerns for employers performing background checks and this trend was chosen by leading global background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2019.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) also offers two complimentary white papers that examine the many causes behind FCRA lawsuits: “Common Ways Prospective or Current Employees Sue Employers Under the FCRA” and “Common Ways Consumer Reporting Agencies are Sued Under the FCRA.”

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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