Court Rules Former Employee May Pursue FCRA Claims Over Termination

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On July 21, 2020, the United States District Court, District of Columbia issued an opinion in Mattiaccio v. DHA Group., Inc. that determined the Plaintiff had standing to pursue claims of Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations against his former employer after a background check was used to justify his termination from work.

Plaintiff Gennaro Mattiaccio II was terminated by Defendant DHA Group for alleged misconduct. While pre- and post-employment background checks that investigate employee misconduct are usually exempt from the FCRA, Mattiaccio II claimed these background checks were retaliation for a complaint he had filed against DHA Group.

Plaintiff brought two FCRA claims. First, Defendant lacked proper authorization to perform background checks since the authorizations were not clearly formatted. Second, Plaintiff did not authorize a post-employment background check and was not given a summary of rights or a chance to review his report before termination.

The opinion written by District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly was the latest decision in an almost decade-long dispute between the Plaintiff and his former employer. Judge Kollar-Kotelly granted in part and denied in part the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment for lack of standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution.

“First, to the extent that Plaintiff brings such a claim, Plaintiff cannot bring a claim that he did not authorize the pre-employment background check. Second, Plaintiff does not have standing to bring his claim that Defendants failed to obtain his consent on a document that solely consisted of the authorization,” Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

“However, Plaintiff does have standing on his remaining claims that he did not authorize the post-employment background check and that he was not provided with a copy of the report or a summary of his rights before adverse action was taken against him,” Judge Kollar-Kotelly concluded. The case now heads to court.

Enacted by Congress in 1970, the FCRA promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information contained in the files of Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs), protects consumers from the willful and/or negligent inclusion of inaccurate information in their consumer reports, including consumer credit information.

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Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – offers FCRA-compliant background screening solutions as well as whitepapers on how employers may avoid FCRA lawsuits and on how CRAs may avoid FCRA lawsuits. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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