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BACKGROUND REPORT LAWSUIT EMPLOYER WILLFULLY VIOLATED FCRA

BACKGROUND REPORT LAWSUIT – EMPLOYER WILLFULLY VIOLATED FCRA

Facts – In October 2016, Donald Frazier, Jr. got his day in court.  Mr. Frazier sued Vintage Stock.  In his lawsuit, Mr. Frazier alleged Vintage Stock violated four different sections of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  Specifically, he alleged Vintage Stock violated the FCRA when it failed to: (1) provide him with pre-adverse action notice; (2) provide him with a copy of the background report; (3) obtained his employment background report without compliance with the FCRA user certifications for employment background reports; and (4) provide him with a clear and conspicuous disclosure of his FCRA rights in a document that consisted solely of the disclosure.

Analysis – The Court analyzed all four of Plaintiff’s claims during the bench trial.  First, the court acknowledged an “adverse action” occurred when Vintage Stock informed Mr. Frazier that its decision not to hire him was final.  However, the defendant failed to provide the plaintiff with the required pre-adverse action notice before it told him he was not eligible for the job due to his criminal history.  Vintage Stock also failed to provide Mr. Frazier with a copy of his background report and a summary of his rights under the FCRA.

Second, “[i]n Claim III, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated § 1681b(b)(1)(A) by failing to certify compliance with FCRA, and so obtained a background report that the consumer reporting agency would not have provided if it had known Defendant was using the report for employment purposes.”  Frazier v. Vintage Stock.    The plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence that  Vintage Stock obtained the employment background report “under false pretenses or knowingly obtained it without a permissible purpose.”

Third, in the plaintiff’s final claim, Count IV, he alleges that Defendant  used an offensive employment background screening form because the authorization also included a liability waiver.  “Some courts have found this practice to be impermissible under the FCRA because it does not satisfy the requirement that the disclosure be made in a document that consists solely of the disclosure. See Milbourne v. JRK Residential Am., LLC, 92 F. Supp. 3d 425, 432-33 (E.D. Va. 2015)see also Avila v. NOW Health Group, Inc., No. 14 C 1551, 2014 WL 3537825, *2 (N.D. Ill. May 27, 2015) (unpublished, citing cases).”  Here, Mr. Frazier “testified unequivocally that he signed a written authorization form that was a separate document, apart from the employment application;” however, he did not produce a copy of the offensive disclosure in discovery or at trial.

Outcome – Accordingly, the court held Vintage Stock violated the FCRA because it failed to provide him with pre-adverse action notice and a copy of the background report.  The Court further determined that the defendant’s actions recklessly disregarded Mr. Frazier’s FCRA rights.  The court entered a judgment against Vintage Stock in favor of Mr. Frazier for $2,000 – the maximum $1,000 statutory damages per violation.  However, due to the lack of evidence, the court concluded Vintage Stock did not violate the FCRA user certifications for employment background reports or fail to provide him with a clear and conspicuous disclosure of his FCRA rights in a document that consisted solely of the disclosure.

Has an employer turned you down because of an employment background report?  Did the employer have you sign an authorization to pull your background report before it did?  Did the employer provide you with pre-adverse action notice, a copy of the background repot and a summary of your rights under the FCRA?  If you answered no, then you should contact the Adkins Firm for a free case review.

The Adkins Firm represents consumers with background report errors.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides consumers with rights and remedies under federal law.  Contact us to learn about your rights under federal law.