Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

With 2019 drawing to a close and new decade beginning, the ESR News Blog – which is published every weekday by leading global background check provider Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – is looking back at some of the top stories about background screening from the past year.

  • Major Air Line to Pay $2.3 Million to Settle Background Check Lawsuit for Alleged FCRA Violations: On January 3, 2019, a major U.S. airline agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle a class action lawsuit that claimed the airline allegedly failed to provide job applicants with a “standalone” background check disclosure in violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and related California state laws. Read More
  • SHRM “Getting Talent Back to Work” Initiative Helps Ex-Offenders with Criminal Records Find Jobs: On January 27, 2019, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) – the world’s largest HR professional society representing 300,000 members in more than 165 countries – announced the launch of the SHRM Getting Talent Back to Work national initiative that champions the hiring of ex-offenders with criminal records, an untapped talent pool that has traditionally been shut out of the labor market. Read More
  • Court Rules FCRA Prohibits All Extraneous Information in Background Check Disclosure Forms: On January 29, 2019, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a case that the federal FCRA prohibits any and all extraneous information in required FCRA background check disclosures, even information about rights under state laws. Read More
  • GAO Report Recommends Stronger Oversight of CRAs to Protect Consumers against Data Breaches: On March 29, 2019, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee Elijah Cummings (D-MD) released the findings of a report entitled “Actions Needed to Strengthen Oversight of Consumer Reporting Agencies” that focused on federal regulation of Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) and made recommendations for protecting consumer information against data breaches. Read More
  • New York City Ban on Marijuana Drug Testing by Employers Takes Effect in May 2020: On April 9, 2019, the New York City Council passed a proposed bill – Introduction No. 1445-A – that prohibited New York City employers from requiring job applicants to submit to drug testing for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, as a condition of employment. Read More
  • NAPBS and HR.com Release Results of Annual Survey of HR Professionals about Background Screening: In May of 2019, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – a non-profit trade association representing the interests of background screening companies – and leading human resources (HR) social networking website HR.com released the results of their third annual survey of “How Human Resources Professionals View and Use Background Screening in Employment.” Nearly all respondents stated they conduct background checks and the number one challenge continued to be the length of time in getting results. Read More
  • Nevada Becomes First State to Prohibit Denial of Employment Due to Positive Marijuana Drug Tests: On June 5, 2019, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed 60 bills that included Assembly Bill 132 (AB 132) that will prohibit the denial of employment because of the presence of marijuana in a pre-employment drug test taken by a prospective employee except under certain specific circumstances. AB 132 takes effect on January 1, 2020. Read More
  • Convenience Store Chain Agrees to Pay Nearly $2 Million to Settle Class Action Lawsuit for Alleged FCRA Violations: In June of 2019, a convenience store chain agreed to pay nearly $2 million to settle a class action lawsuit that claimed the company allegedly violated the FCRA by failing to provide a “standalone” notice of background checks to approximately 60,000 job applicants. Read More
  • FTC Reaches Settlement with Background Screening Firm Over False Claim of Privacy Shield Participation: In June of 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – a government agency that protects consumers and promotes competition – reached a settlement with a background screening company over an alleged false claim of being a participant in the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield frameworks which establish processes to allow companies to transfer consumer data from European Union (EU) countries and Switzerland to the United States (U.S.) in compliance with EU and Swiss law. Read More
  • Employers Paid $174 Million Over Past Decade to Settle FCRA Lawsuits Involving Background Checks: A compilation of court records released in June of 2019 found employers paid out $174 million over the past decade to settle class action lawsuits that claimed they violated the FCRA, a total derived from 146 successful class action lawsuits brought under the employment provisions of the FCRA against companies that use background check reports. Companies providing those reports have paid out another $152 million when they have been sued directly. Read More
  • Appeals Court Upholds Injunction Barring EEOC from Enforcing Guidance on Criminal Records in Texas: On August 6, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld an injunction that barred the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – which enforces laws prohibiting employment discrimination – from enforcing the EEOC’s “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” in Texas. Read More
  • NAPBS Completes Transition to Global Organization with Rebrand to Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA): On September 9, 2019, the NAPBS announced that its members overwhelmingly voted at the 2019 NAPBS Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, to approve the association’s rebrand to the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA). The change in the NAPBS’s structure and the new name marks the culmination of the association’s transition into a truly global organization, a vision that was initiated 12 years ago with the addition of an international committee which led to three international chapters in the years that have followed. Read More
  • Court Dismisses FCRA Class Action Lawsuit Against Consumer Reporting Agency Citing Spokeo Ruling: On September 23, 2019, a District Court in Virginia granted a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit where the plaintiffs – applicants who applied for jobs with a financial services company between August 17, 2012, and April 10, 2015 – claimed the defendant, a CRA performing background checks on the job applicants, violated the FCRA. The CRA argued the plaintiffs lacked standing under Article III of the United States Constitution to pursue the claims. The Judge cited the Supreme Court ruling in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins that, to establish standing, a plaintiff must have: “suffered an injury in fact, that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant; and, that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.” Read More
  • Judge Decertifies Class of 6.5 Million Applicants in FCRA Lawsuit Against Retail Corporation Finding Insufficient Injury Under Spokeo: On October 18, 2019, a California federal judge decertified a class of approximately 6,547,400 applicants in a class action lawsuit that claimed a retail corporation procured background checks using disclosure forms that violated the FCRA, finding the plaintiffs failed to allege an injury sufficient enough as required under the Supreme Court ruling in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins. Read More
  • FMCSA-Regulated Employers Readying for CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse: In October of 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – an administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) – opened registration for the Congressionally-mandated FMCSA Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse that will be operational on January 6, 2020. Read More
  • Consumer Reporting Agency to Pay $3.6 Million to Settle FCRA Lawsuit: On November 12, 2019, a Florida federal judge granted final approval for a $3.6 million settlement in a class action lawsuit filed against a CRA to resolve allegations that the CRA violated the FCRA by providing employers with background checks conducted on job applicants without proper authorization as required under the FCRA. Read More
  • EEOC Announces $6 Million Settlement in Criminal Background Check Discrimination Lawsuit: On November 18, 2019, the EEOC announced that a major retail chain had agreed to pay $6 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC that claimed the retailer’s criminal background check process discriminated on the basis of race. According to the lawsuit filed by the EEOC, the largest small-box discount retailer in the United States violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by denying employment to African American applicants at a significantly higher rate than white applicants for failing the company’s broad criminal background check. Read More
  • CFPB Requires Screening Firm to Pay $8.5 Million for Alleged FCRA Violations: On November 22, 2019, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – an agency enforcing federal consumer financial laws – filed a proposed Stipulated Final Judgment and Order that will require a background screening company to pay $6 million in monetary relief and a $2.5 million civil money penalty to resolve allegations of FCRA violations. Read More
  • FTC and CFPB Hold Workshop on Accuracy in Consumer Reporting: On December 10, 2019, the FTC and the CFPB held a free public workshop on Accuracy in Consumer Reporting that examined issues affecting the accuracy of traditional credit reports and background screening reports. The Accuracy in Consumer Reporting Workshop brought together representatives from CRAs, trade associations, furnishers, and consumer advocacy organizations for a wide-ranging public discussion on the changes in legal requirements and technological developments that may affect the accuracy of consumer reports. Read More
  • Fair Chance Act Will Ban the Box in the U.S. Federal Government: On December 20, 2019, United States President Donald J. Trump signed into law S. 1790, the “National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020” that included a “Ban the Box” bill called The Fair Chance Act that will take effect two years after the date of enactment to give ex-offenders a better chance to find work in the U.S. federal government. The Fair Chance Act will Ban the Box and prohibit the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of job applicants early on in the hiring process. Read More

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