FCRA CLASS ACTION DISMISSED BECAUSE OF LACK OF STANDING UNDER SPOKEO

BACKGROUND REPORTS & EMPLOYMENT 

FCRA CLASS ACTION DISMISSED BECAUSE OF LACK OF STANDING UNDER SPOKEO

FACTS

A District of Idaho court recently dismissed a FCRA putative background report class action because the plaintiff lacked standing to bring a claim under Spokeo. In Mitchell v. Winco Food, LLC, the plaintiff (“Mitchell”) filed a class action lawsuit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).  Mitchell applied online for a job with Winco Foods (“Winco”).  The online application included an FCRA disclosure, which notified Mitchell that Winco would pull a background report in connection with her application of employment.  Presumably, the background report would be used to determine her eligibility for employment.

Mitchell alleges Winco provided her with a separate form in addition to the disclosure.  After Winco hired Mitchell, she claimed the additional form violated her rights under the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(2).

ANALYSIS

In Spokeo, the United States Supreme Court addressed the prerequisites for standing in federal court.  “The Supreme Court reiterated the long-held standard that a plaintiff invoking federal jurisdiction must establish: (1) an injury in fact; (2) fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant; and (3) likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.” Id. at 1547.  The injury in fact element requires a plaintiff to show that she suffered “an invasion of a legally protected interest” that is “concrete and particularized” and “actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.” Id. at 1548. For an injury to be particularized, it “must affect the plaintiff in a personal and individual way.” Id. To be concrete, an injury must be “de facto” — that is, it must be real; it must actually exist. Id. But intangible injuries can be concrete. Id. at 1549.

Winco argued Mitchell does not have standing because she did not suffer an injury in fact.  Thus, the issue for the court to decide is whether Mitchell has alleged a “concrete” injury. Mitchell argued she suffered a concrete injury when Winco did not provide her with a stand alone disclosure as required by § 1681b(b)(2), thus, she suffered an “informational harm” and “invasion of privacy.”  Notwithstanding, Winco offered, and Mitchell accepted, a job.

Outcome

The court disagreed.  The court acknowledged “Justice Alito’s example of a bare procedural violation that does not create Article III standing, a situation where a consumer reporting agency fails to provide the required notice to a user of the agency’s consumer information, but the information is entirely accurate.”  Id. (bold supplied). Because Mitchell actually received the job she applied for at Winco, and the background report did not include any inaccurate information, “Winco’s bare procedural violation of one of the FCRAs requirements did not result in a concrete injury.   Accordingly, the court granted Winco’s motion to dismiss.

Have you been turned down for a job because of a background report?  Did the employer provide you with a stand alone authorization to obtain your background report, which included your rights under the Fair Credit reporting Act?  Did the employer provide you with a copy of the background report BEFORE it told you that you were not eligible for hire?  Was the background report accurate?

If you answered NO to any of these questions, then you may have claims under the FCRA.  We represent employees all over the country who have been turned down for employment due to false information on their background reports.  Contact the Adkins Firm for a free case review.

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