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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A class action lawsuit filed in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania against Big Lots Stores Inc. claims the retail discount store chain allegedly conducted improper background checks on employees in violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), according to a report from reports the lead plaintiff, Aaron Abel, claims extraneous information was included in the form Big Lots used to obtain consent from job applicants for background checks in violation of the FCRA when Abel applied to work at a Big Lots store in November 2013.

Abel argues that the form he signed called ‘Consent to Request Consumer Report & Investigative Consumer Report Information’ is not a sufficient “disclosure that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes nor an authorization for the procurement of a consumer report.”

The lawsuit claims that the form also contains the statement “that all employment decisions are based on legitimate non-discriminatory reasons.” Abel seeks statutory damages in the amount of $100 and $1,000 for each job applicant whose FCRA rights were allegedly violated by Big Lots.

The lawsuit is Aaron Abel v. Big Lots Stores Inc., Case No. 151100286, in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. The full report from is at

The FCRA requires that “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.”

This requirement for “a clear and conspicuous disclosure” is by far the most common claim made in recent FCRA class action lawsuits. In 2015 alone, companies such as Food Lion, Home Depot, Chuck E. Cheese, BMW, and Whole Foods paid settlements in FCRA lawsuits ranging from $803,000 to $3 million.

In addition, an article in The National Law Review describes a new breed of “phony job seekers” looking for FCRA violations instead of work by submitting job applications “solely to position themselves as the named plaintiff in class action litigation and secure a windfall settlement or litigation recovery.”

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) reminds readers that allegations made in FCRA class action lawsuits are not proof that a business violated any law, rule, or regulation. For more blogs about FCRA class action lawsuits, visit


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