Retailer Liable for Background Checks on Potential Employee

Lowes recently paid $2.2 million to settled a class action lawsuit by job applicants who claimed the information contained in background checks run by the retailer violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Similarly, a class action was recently filed in California federal court against Robert Half International Inc. by an Ohio man who accuses the staffing agency of reporting a false felony conviction to a potential employer.  The plaintiff claims the Robert Half reported the conviction before he could contest it, in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  As the applicate in these cases, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that company conducting a background check must get permission from the applicant before running the background check, and give the applicant an opportunity to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information in the report.  

These cases highlight the risks of conducting background checks without ensuring compliance with the various restrictions and requirements imposed by federal law, state law and local ordinances.  There are increasing limits on background checks, including a complete ban in some states and cities on requiring the applicant to list or even acknowledge criminal convictions on job applications.  

For a more thorough explanation of these requirements and limits, please see the article entitled “Criminal Background Checks:  Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t” (Parts I and II) in WFCA’s Premier Flooring Retailer (March/April and May/June 2014).

Notice: The purpose of this blog is to review the latest developments that are of interest to clients of Mr. King.  The information contained is abridged from legislation, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion, and is not a substitute for the advice of counsel.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017